My students are all reading The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter--And How to Make the Most of Them Nowmostly because it is an assigned text for a psych course, but also because maybe the twenties are the new Freakonomics, the new Malcolm Gladwell, the new Rachael Ray all wrapped up in bacon and birthday cake. I don't know. The twenties are trending, though, am I right? I haven't read The Defining Decade and I'm probably missing out on a TED talk that summarizes it, but something tells me it won't be groundbreaking for me. Because I spend much of my day with people on the fringes or well entrenched in their twenties. Because I have experienced the twenties, the whole decade of them, and I've lived to tell about them, which makes me an expert, obviiiiousssslyyyyy.
If Dr. Meg Jay is right and the decisions made and relationships forged in the twenties are clutch and will dictate the failures and successes of the future, then let us ponder the magnificent mistakes by yours truly in her twenties?
1. I made the magnificent mistake of having good health insurance.
Oh yeah. That non-profit I worked at right out of college? It took away my soul and good nature but boy was that health insurance top rate. So good, in fact, that when I did the responsible thing of going to the dentist, they took one look at my loaded dental plan and prescribed me 11 fillings for the cavities I didn't have. They were just the beginnings of cavities, so future dentists have told me. Nevermind that I'd never had a cavity before. Nevermind that I didn't know what it was to "get a second opinion." I always wanted to know what having my skull drilled was like....
2. I married my college sweetheart.
And because we never broke up prior to getting married, I never had a chance to figure out if I was just psychotic *with him* or if it was just a part of my general charms and abilities that would emerge in any romantic relationship.
3. I believed all the nice things people said about me in college.
I had emerged from undergraduate actually buying that I had unique skills that companies would be falling over themselves to bring aboard to finally, finally complete their puzzle and achieve sustainable success, if only for my winning and unmatched copyediting abilities! Then I entered a world of Working People at Real Jobs that sort of frowned upon the notion of a siesta. I forgot that life wasn't grading on the A-F scale, but rather the Hired-or-Fired scale. I somehow missed the memo that I still had crazy copious volumes to learn about maturity and comporting self and doing a solid job.
4. I cried on my 26th birthday because it seemed too old to not have started my family yet.
Because who does that?
5. I spent six months studying to be a financial advisor and an insurance salesperson.
I failed. Really magnificently, I failed. I learned tons about self sabotage and blocking out every reasonable voice that tells you gently that maybe they saw you more doing something in the humanities? I threw away hundreds if not thousands of dollars and felt worthless and directionless and angry. And because of my spiritual and emotional poverty, I was able to hear the voice of God more clearly, calling me home. Which is why I'm so grateful for the twenties. The defining decade. The very definition of how faith broke down the doors to my heart and set me sailing on a sea of redemption. The magnificently mistaken twenties. Thank you, Lord, for them. Amen.