“Eighty percent of life’s most defining moments take place by age thirty-five”. My jaw dropped and eyebrows lifted as I heard more and more of the facts: Personality changes in our twenties more than any other time in our lives. Our brains cap off their second and last growth spurt in our twenties. Our twenties are the defining decade of our adulthood. I suddenly had a reality check hearing all of this just a couple of weeks ago at our Amate fall in-service day. Thirty is not the new twenty.
Our fall in-service was a time for the 28 of us to reflect on wise words from our staff about Dr. Meg Jay’s book The Defining Decade - Why Your Twenties Matter and How to Make the Most of Them Now. Our day was divided into three parts: work, love, and spirituality in our twenties. I think it is safe to say that I was not the only one feeling uneasy when talking about how to take control of our twenties, and ultimately the rest of our lives. This unsettling feeling slowly passed however by the end of the day, and was replaced by a sense of empowerment—once I realized how I can take control.
Coming to Amate House was definitely an opportunity that I could not resist. Meg Jay describes twenty-somethings as airplanes taking off from LAX. One slight change in course can cause the plane to go to a completely different part of the world, just as one good break can have an inordinate impact on a twenty-something’s life. I just finished Dr. Jay’s book, and I couldn't help but think she was directly speaking to me in this part, given that only two months ago I myself flew away from my home in California to my new home with Amate—LAX to Chicago. The sense of empowerment that I walked away with after the in-service was from the realization that I have a great amount of power and influence in how I want the rest of my life to look. Fortunately, Amate House is a way that I am investing in myself and positively influencing the course of my twenties.
Dr. Jay talks about how important it is for every twenty-something to invest in identity capital and to grow by forcing yourself outside your closed circle. Identity capital comes from choosing to do something that adds value to who you are and is an investment in who you want to become. I never thought that I would be teaching phonics reading classes to high school students this year with Amate. I feel challenged, overwhelmed, and often incompetent as a teacher. Luckily, Meg Jay notes in her book that if I have these feelings, I am working in a job that is allowing me to reach my full potential (thanks Dr. Jay!) I feel that in this position I am growing, while also ensuring that I gain identity capital. Dr. Jay also emphasized how important it is to not huddle together with like-minded peers. We grow by using weak ties, finding new jobs, new friends, and new opportunities outside our comfort zones. Well, I can’t really think of a better way to do all of these things than moving to the other side of the country and joining the Amate fleet. I've realized how important it is to always be slightly outside my comfort zone. There is no certainty in the future, but as Dr. Jay says, by challenging myself I can claim my adulthood now.
Although Dr. Jay does not directly mention spirituality in her book, we had the opportunity to explore how spirituality plays a part in our twenties at the in-service. We were introduced to our prayer partners for the year, (another Amate member) and were able to delve into what our spirituality looks like now that we are in our twenties, out of college, and away from our families and loved ones. In Amate, we talk about how this year is a “year of growth”, and through this in-service I realized how important it is for me to take ownership and become aware of how I am individually shaping my spirituality. I have realized that I have so many more questions about my spirituality now that I am an adult, which I think means that I am growing or at least open to growth. Thank you Dr. Jay and Amate for giving me assurance that this time in my life isn't random, and that I actually have a great amount of control in dictating my future. I can’t wait to begin more adventures in my defining decade—my mom always says “every day is a gift” and I now know that especially in my twenties, every day is an opportunity.