30 is the new…what?

Meg Jay says 30 is not the new 20

I listened to this podcast while at work, crunching through e-mails and writing new client messaging. Jay’s voice floated through my earphones and froze my fingers poised over the keyboard. 30 is not the new 20, she said. And according to her, it’s time we stop acting like it. 

Millennials, born from 1981 to 1997, appear to have all the time in the world. We’re casually dating through unanswered texts, missed connections and fears of being single the rest of our lives. Apparently, we’re also marrying later although my Facebook feed of engagement rings and wedding photos say otherwise. We’re at jobs we like well enough, that pay well enough, while holding out hope that our rose-colored careers will eventually appear. At the age of 23, 27 and 30, we’re kicking the metaphorical can down the road in the (false) belief that the road is endless. 

We coin excuses. When asked why we don’t leave our jobs or leave our jobs too often, when we’ll go to school or graduate, when we’ll get married, buy a house, have a child, settle down, the answers are:

Next year. When I’m 30. When I’m older. When I’ve saved. When I find the perfect person. When I’m 35.

I wonder about my generation. I wonder if I’m part of the statistic or an outlier at the end of the bell curve. In some ways, I think Millennials are caught with this gnawing question: Is there something better? 

We’re the generation of increased opportunity and decreased satisfaction. There are so many people who we could choose as our marriage partner, companies who could pay more or treat us better, places with a higher quality of life, weather and quantity of Whole Foods. I fear we will become the generation of the Fisherman’s Wife. 

Blue Ridge Labs, now a program of Robin Hood, has a unique fellowship program where intelligent, tech-savvy individuals collaborate together to help solve poverty-induced problems in New York City. I went to the final presentation for this year’s participants and was blown away by the creativity, focus and drive of people not much older than myself. Millennials. Their apps include lending circles for college students, tenant surveys to combat absent landlords, and a website to quickly text all group participants in a surrounding area. For these fellowship-ers, their “30 is the new 40” mentality is anything but their peers’ ennui.

So there’s hope. And perhaps the way the rest of us can get out of our “30 is the new 20” slump, is to stop thinking exclusively about our own happiness and start asking how we can make a positive difference in the world. Right now. 

Group Rocks

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