Positive Life: Did 'Friends' have it all wrong?

life in your 20s

I've long been interested in the way we change and learn and grow as grown ups.  Children's development is discussed ad nauseum. There are hundreds, if not thousands of books, articles, web sites, blogs, TV shows and even films that depict the changes and challenges of childhood.  

But we don't stop learning and growing when we reach eighteen.  We don't finish school, get a drivers licence and start drinking at the pub (legally) and then never learn or change or grow or develop at any point from then on.  There's a whole lot of change still to come.  Life provides an ongoing opportunity to grow and flourish, right until the very end.  

Your 20s is a big period for growth.  In the 90s and early Noughties, Friends (a TV show if you're currently under 20 or over 60 and never tune into 111 Hits on Foxtel) depicted 20-something life. There was a lot of hanging around in coffee shops, hanging around with each, living with each other, dating each other, eventually even marrying each other.  Careers were a background activity for some and non-existent for others.  There wasn't much travel and there was a lot of talk - and a lot of laughs.

Friends gave us the impression that your 20s is a throwaway period when you can pretty much hang around with your mates and not do much else.  And many of us have done that - to different degrees.

But your 20s is actually a huge time for growth and for getting yourself on track for the future, or so says Meg Jay, the clinical psychologist whose TED talk I've got for you today.  She reckons that we should being using our 20s to get going - and growing - so that we are better set up for the rest of our lives, and I reckon she's on to something.

Many years ago I wrote a book called, 'Turning 30: How to get the life you really want' with a friend and fellow psychologist, Sheila Panchal.  It was born out of our experience of friends and family, and us too, getting towards the end of our 20s and thinking, 'Faaarkk, what happens now?  I think I'm supposed to have got it all together; have a career, have a steady partner, have money, be thinking about kids, but I'm nowhere near that point.'

We were enjoying being one of the first generations to break away from the traditional expectations of marriage, home ownership, family and career building (in the Western world at least) in your 20s.  We saw it as the time to explore, experiment, inquire and adventure.  We travelled, tried different avenues of study, lived with different people, dabbled in this and that and things that maybe we shouldn't have.  But we still felt the same pressure to have 'got it all together' by 30 and that led to varying degrees of uncertainty, angst and crisis.

Meg Jay has some great ideas for how you can combine the two - use your 20s as a time of exploration and adventure and hanging with friends in coffee shops, but in a conscious mindful way that might better set up the 20-somethings of the future (my children in my case, my 20s were a looong time ago) so that they hopefully experience less angst and a more successful transition into real adulthood.

Take a look and tell me what you think? I'd love to hear your 20-something story!