Redefining Self in Your Twenties

About two months ago, I watched a TED talk (http://www.ted.com/talks/meg_jay_why_30_is_not_the_new_20) that a coworker had recommended to me.  The speaker’s name was Meg Jay and she spoke to the idea that many twenty-somethings are coasting through an extremely influential decade in their life, claiming that adulthood starts ten years later.  While she makes many good points, the most memorable excerpt for me was the idea that in our lives, our brains go through two major growth spurts.  The first is as a child and the second is in your twenties.

The result?

Your twenties offer you with a new boost of personality and a new opportunity for you to develop into who you want to be.

I gave this idea some thought the other day and quickly spiraled into a level of reflection that I haven’t reached in quite some time.

It turns out that I am in a period of transition.  If you were to ask me what I want to do with my career, I wouldn’t have an answer.  The same is true for when I want to have kids, or where I want to live, or even bigger things, like whether I have a soul that will continue on after I die or whether, ultimately, I should be inherently selfless, or look out more for myself than for my neighbor.

To be completely honest, what prompted this soul searching was my recognition of how I have been dealing with relationships and leading conversations in my life.  My stepmother has told me before that “it is far easier to be negative than to be positive in life” and my goodness, I’ll be damned if that isn’t true.  So, to determine a cause for the shift in my life outlook, I began to deeply consider the things that surround me.  Why, in this critical period of personality development, would I be turning into an irritable, hard-to-deal-with person?

The truth is, I feel like I encounter intolerance everywhere I go.  On the commute home, it’s as if every man is for himself.  People cut each other off and honk their horns and follow too closely.  At the grocery store the other day, I literally had an old man snap at me for accidentally picking up the deli meat he had ordered at the counter…  Only to have an old woman yell at me in the parking lot after she nearly backed into me.

So, what’s the point?

The point is that I have realized that in trying to juggle the demands of adulthood, I am slowly, but surely, becoming jaded, just like the man at the deli counter or the woman in the parking lot.  And as a woman in my mid twenties, it is extremely difficult to think back to the vivid hopes and dreams that I had as a child – of the person that I was going to be and the life that I was going to live [I literally thought that I was going to change the world] – and recognize that I am living the same life as my neighbors, am equally as (if not more) frustrated than them with the inconveniences of daily life and have adopted that into my psyche without acknowledging it…

Is it inevitable that in adapting to our world as adults, we lose touch of the fire and drive that we felt as children?  Does being a good person to those that you love constitute as changing the world?  Why do we feel such intolerance for our neighbors, who are trying to “get by” day to day, just like us?  Is there a set path that we are meant to follow psychologically and physiologically when we get to this age?  If so, am I on it?

Am I ultimately developing into the person that I want to be?

These are the questions that I want answers to…

-E

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