Sorry, College Graduates, Your 20s Do Matter
That stretch is life's 'developmental sweet spot,' says psychologist
By John Johnson, Newser Staff
Posted May 26, 2012 9:28 AM CDT
Barnard College graduates listen to President Obama deliver their commencement address on May 14.   (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

(Newser) – Too many college graduates these days are embracing the message that it's fine to fritter away their 20s and figure things out by the ripe old age of 30, writes clinical psychologist Meg Jay in the Los Angeles Times. Which is too bad because "our 20s are life's developmental sweet spot," she writes. "They matter. A lot." Yeah, the economy is lousy and our pop culture "fetishizes" the idea that the 20s should now just be a period of extended adolescence.

College grads would be wise not to use those things as excuses, to find false comfort in the slogan that "30 is the new 20." It's not. Where we end up in our 30s and 40s largely depends on what we do in our 20s, writes Jay. In fact, she offers a new definition of the midlife crisis: It "isn't buying a red sports car. It's smart, well-meaning 40-year-olds grieving a little as they look at themselves—and at me sitting across the room—and say about their 20s, 'What was I doing? What was I thinking?'" Read the full column here.

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May 26, 2012 9:37 PM CDT
As a 22 year old who just graduated college a week ago, I have never in my life heard anyone say or imply that our 20s don't matter. Everyone I know who graduated is either looking for jobs or plan on attending grad school. We're not all trying to live out a Van Wilder movie. This seems like a b.s. generalization to me.
May 26, 2012 1:34 PM CDT
"Research shows that those who start their adult lives in hard times are inclined to believe that luck, not their own efforts, determines success." Hayyyy, maybe "success" is a combination of both luck and your own efforts, with the scales tipped largely toward "luck." By "luck" I mean everything outside of your control, which is...almost everything.
May 26, 2012 12:55 PM CDT
Man if I were to spend time with regrets about the things I did in my 20's it would take me another lifetime. My 20's were in the early 70's and it was free sex, drugs and rock-and-roll. Not burning the candle at both ends, burning that sucker at both ends and in the middle. And I believe it was that period that helped me formulate who I was and what I really considered important. This was the time when I took all of the lessons learned from my family, friends, school, etc. and either applied them or threw them away and adopted my own.