How Millennials should make the best of their 20’s

Dr Meg Jay on TED summarized her talk on “why 30 is not the new 20″ with a practical and brilliant definition of the character of the older millennial generation (those born between 1983 and 1993), and how they can seize their day (see: ).

She describes the three things every 20-something male or female deserves to hear:

  1. Forget about your identity crisis and get some identity capital (do something that will make an investment into what you next want to be). Identity capital begets identity capital. Exploration that does not add up to something that counts is not exploration, but procrastination. Make it count.

  2. The urban tribe is overrated. Hang together with like-minded peers only and you will miss what comes from outside the inner circle. New things come from our weak ties, our friends of friends of friends.

  3. The time to start picking your family is now. You do that when you choose who you marry. Grabbing any partner is not progress. The best time to work on your marriage is before you have one, that means being intentional with love, as you are with work. Pick whom you want to be with, and not killing time with whoever happens to be choosing you.

Her comments make sense and if added to the findings of the pew research on millennials, may show that differences exist between the older (born between 1983-1993), and younger millennials (born between 1993-2003). Pew defines the millennials as “confident, connected, and open to change”, but is that entirely true? To be fair to the very credible work done by the Pew researchers, they do qualify their findings in the preface with, “There are as many differences within generations as there are among generations” (Pew defines the millennial age group as those born after 1980).

Pew analysis of millennial marital norms takes on a spectral emphasis in Dr. Jay’s third point above. Pew writes, “Millennials are more likely to be living with other family members (47%), such as their parents, than were the immediate two previous generations at the same age (Gen Xers, 43%; Boomers, 39%). They also are more likely than others had been at the same stage of life to be cohabiting with a partner or living with a roommate.” Consider the following chart that compares marriage % per generational grouping:

marriage among millennials research and analysis

analysis of decreasing commitment to marriage among millennials and the consequences

(Figure: page 12 of  Pew Research Center report on the Millennial generation)

Consequent to the above stats, Dr. Jay’s recommendation to “pick your family” is outstanding, and prescient. She summarizes her talk as follows: “so claim your adulthood; get some identity capital; use your weak ties; pick your family; don’t be defined by what you did not know or did not do; you’re deciding your life right now”. Her advice combined to Pew’s conclusion that millennials are “open to change” gives hope. I concur with Dr Jay, that the millennials are easy to work with; and ready to listen to people who invest the time to understand them.

My heart was deeply moved as I listened to Dr. Jay’s talk. My thoughts lingered over the many young friends that presently fit into the struggles she mentions. I long to say to each one, “Put my name in your address book under ‘who to call when in emergency’”. My heartfelt desire is that each finds along their paths meaningful life-changing friendships with all generations: friends beyond their circle of peers.


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(The conclusions, or opinions expressed within this article are entirely those of the author of this article. It is not our intention to suggest either that the authors/writers quoted, in any way agree with what we have written, or that we are expressing their full view on any of the subjects covered)