By Hope Dorman
As I got the mail one afternoon late this summer I saw a package from University of Portland addressed to me. Inside was Dr. Meg Jay’s book, The Defining Decade, and a note about how she would be speaking about it on campus. I didn’t anticipate reading it, but packed it anyway for the two-day drive up to Portland, and was glad I did.
The book uses anecdotes from her psychiatric patients to articulate the many struggles that twentysomethings face. The book is divided into three parts: Work, Love, and The Brain and the Body, each providing insight for how to handle these challenges as they arise. She supports these anecdotes with academic research, a persuasive tactic for the college-aged audience fresh from spending hours on databases finding support for their theses. The book reads easily and quickly; it has many small lessons unified under the same theme, so it is easy to digest. The memorable anecdotes are relatable and the individual lesson in each one helps the reader to understand how to best overcome challenges.
The book’s universal theme is to go after what you want, and don’t delay in doing it. This is a scary thing for people who have been told their whole lives “you can be anything you want!” but then are faced with the realities of student debt, the hunt for employment, and many other factors that hinder our success. However, Jay takes a realistic approach to this problem. She shows her clients and her readers that the best thing twentysomethings can do for themselves is to find opportunities to make advancements toward their ultimate goals. Her pragmatic approach takes into account the unfortunate possibilities of the post-college world and finds ways to make progress on problems in an attempt to conquer them gradually and successfully.
This book was exactly what I needed to read before starting senior year of college. Adults frequently ask, “are you excited to be almost done with school?” Truthfully, the answer is no, because life after graduation takes a lot of work and is a big adjustment. But after reading The Defining Decade, I feel better prepared because I know the way to find long-term success one day is to keep looking for opportunities and not to lose sight of my goals.
Dr. Meg Jay will be speaking at the University of Portland on September 27th. Based on her book, I’m sure her presentation will be very worthwhile, especially for those who cannot read The Defining Decade. The event is free for all UP students and I urge anyone who feels at all nervous about life after graduation to attend and gain some insight into the possibilities for your future.