The Defining Decade for Twentysomethings

???????????????????????????????????  A dear friend of mine bought this book for me. I read it with an open mind and I’m very glad that I did. I found myself nodding and even tearing up (because there was patent onion chopping in the vicinity) at some of the sections. Two aspects of the book stuck out to me.

The first one is that of time. Dr. Jay mentioned a French speleologist (I just want to call him a spelunker who studies caves) Michel Siffre who spent two months in a cave because he wanted to live “beyond time.” When he emerged from his caveman experiment, he thought he had been underground for only twenty-five days instead of two months. The brain condenses unmarked time, which makes sense. Sometimes I have no idea what day it is other than the fact that I looked on my phone. For me, calendar marking is an easy way of remembering the time paradox: you can have so little of it and once it passes, it’s gone. It seems a most precious commodity, but I realize just how much I waste because I don’t make more of an effort to mark it. For me, living beyond time can have a jarring effect, almost as if I’ve time traveled and forgotten where I’ve been or if I’ve come out of a deep sleep and am suddenly noticing the world around me. It’s as if my brain was on autopilot and just decided that the world was interesting again. The book was definitely a call to action for twentysomethings to get out there and fully live before they live to regret. Especially the section on fertility–informative but laid on thick.

The second aspect I appreciated was the research on brain development Dr. Jay included. It was fascinating to get some insight on adult development and realize that the brain is still forming, making connections, and in some ways rewiring. The fact that the twenties is a period where you can unlearn or learn something new is amazing. It’s a time for reinvention, for expanding, and for exploring. Dr. Jay compared it to child development when babies are born with all of these neurons to help them develop and the unused neurons gradually die off. I appreciated the section on how the front and rational part of the brain is still developing and gaining control over the back and emotional part of the brain–partly because it made sleep at night, convinced that I wasn’t crazy.

I liked the book overall. Some sections were a good reminder, others I felt were common sense (like dating down and the fact that if one hooks up with everyone and their brother it’s going to be a real challenge to suddenly have a Disney worthy happy ever after). Personally, I got the most from the section on “The Brain And The Body” and thought that the “Work” session has a lot to offer as well. As a twentysomething, I recommend it.

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