A little over a month ago, I turned twenty and my mom decided it was the perfect time to buy me a self help book about my twenties titled “The Defining Decade.” At first, I laughed a little at the gift because I didn’t think that turning twenty was a big deal nor did I think I needed a self help book, but when I sat down to read it I realized that as always- my mom knows best. If you just turned twenty, are about to turn twenty, or are currently in your twenties this book is a must read. “The Defining Decade” helps explain why our twenties matter and why we should make the most of them right now.
Why do our twenties matter so much? Our personalities change more during this decade than at any time before or after. Before reading “The Defining Decade,” I had no idea that our twenties are our “best chance for change” because I had always heard that our childhood and adolescence shape our personalities tremendously. Similar to most people my age, I thought that who I was and what I was capable of was already largely determined by my childhood. I was wrong, and that is so exciting. It is exciting because there is still time to change- time to figure out who I want to be and deliberately work at making myself a better person.
Our personalities change more during this period because our brains are not fully developed. The frontal lobe of our brain processes rational thoughts and allows us to think about the future, but this vital section does not fully mature until sometime between the ages of twenty and thirty. Therefore, every interaction and experience we have right now creates new connections in our brain that increase our capacity to learn new things. Right now our brain is being shaped by the people we talk to and the jobs we take, but in the future it won’t be as easy to learn new things or become who we want to be. After age thirty most of our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are relatively stable, meaning that for the most part we are who we are. So don’t wait- now is the time to become who you want to be.