Your Most Defining Decade
Here’re the facts.
- 8 out of 10 of your most defining memories will take place while you are in your 20’s,
- Your brain undertakes its second major growth spurt, re-wiring itself and defining the neurological pathways that will define your adult experience … while you are in your 20’s, and
- Your personality goes through more changes in your 20’s than during adolescence.
While some young people view their 20’s as a waiting room for adulthood they are actually missing the most defining decade of their life.
Simply put, in your 20’s, the decisions you make or don’t make, the experiences you have or don’t have, the insights your gain or miss, the commitments you take responsibility for or avoid, these all come together to radically shape the rest of your life.
The theory goes like this: We have been noticing for some time the lengthening of the life course. Not only are we able to live longer, but our longevity seems to have elongated each of the life stages. Well, sort of. Our incessant attention upon the freedom of adolescence and emerging adulthood has seemingly shrunk down childhood on the one hand, and relegated adulthood on the other, to make as much space as possible for a period of social moratorium.
A “social moratorium” is a period of time where the pressures of growing up are temporarily pushed aside to enable free experimentation without fear of consequences.
While there is a lot to be said for a positive and constructive period of social moratorium, what we are discovering is that people are emerging from their 20’s and saying things like:
“Wow! My 20’s went past in the blink of an eye. I don’t know what happened to them.”
“I entered my 20’s with a better resume than I have now. Now I have to front up to employers with an apparent black hole in my professional life”
“I’m not actually sure what I achieved in my 20’s….”
“All I have to look back on are missed opportunities, forgotten memories, regrettable relationships and bad decisions. I’m sure I must have learned a lot in my 20’s, I just can’t remember what those lessons were.”
20-Someones, not 20-Somethings.
I realise the above paints the 20’s in a particularly bleak light. I’m not saying that this is everybody’s experience or that it is necessarily yours. I am saying, that it is becoming a noticeable trend, and more importantly, it is an avoidable trend.
What we are learning is that, as developmentally important as your childhood and teen years are, the 20’s is the decade where you consciously or unconsciously shape your adulthood in very significant ways. It is the era where for the first time your social, emotional and cognitive development is matched by a societal permission to choose your future (social moratorium), to lay down the patterns, social networks, character and spirituality that will define you for years to come.
So much in your post-high school years moves from the realm of “should” to “could”. During adolescence, your social circumstance are heavily influenced by the choices of other adults in your life. But in your 20’s, with varying degrees of freedom, you will be the one who will decide what country you will live in, whether you will study or not, what meaningful work you will undertake, how you will contribute to society, who you will share your intimate self with, and how this is all interwoven with spirituality if at all.
Meg Jay, author of “The Most Defining Decade,” highlights that if we are to move toward becoming a 20-Someone and not a 20-Something we need to ‘invest’ in something she calls ‘Identity Capital.’ Just like financial capital is something we can invest in to secure our financial future, identity capital are those things which once embedded in our life, shore up our personhood, character, relationships and faith, providing a foundation from which we can constructively engage with life’s challenges.
By pursuing identity capital you can make our 20’s count, and set yourself up for an engaging and vibrant adulthood.
NEXT – Identity AND Spiritual Capital
The heartbeat of NEXT is that young people have the opportunity to figure out who they are, what they believe in, and how they can go about living these two things out together. As such, we not only set out to create a program that has identity capital at its foundation but spiritual capital as well.
Like Identity Capital, Spiritual Capital are the resources that foster resilient faith. These resources become assets that we can draw upon when times are tough. They include relationships, networks, commitments, practices and rituals that together weave into our life not only a sense of meaning and purpose, but an abiding connection with God. (We will explore identity and spiritual capital further in our next post)
NEXT is one of the only courses you can do without the pressure of wondering if it will lead to a career. Instead of., or perhaps before, studying business, psychology, nursing or bricklaying, you invest in yourself, your faith, your world, and your relationships.
Quite simply, we think it is one of the best ways to spend a year during your most defining decade.