This weekend I headed to Pasadena to visit two of my college friends at True Food Kitchen.
Alan I knew through my community service fraternity, Alpha Phi Omega, and Nadeige was a friend of a friend. More ancillary, versus direct friends, I stayed in touch with Alan, following his adventures on Facebook as he, like myself, entered and navigated the crazy world of education in NYC while working @ Wireless Generation. A kindred spirit in some regard, I was eager to finally meet up with him, having read that he had moved from NYC to Pasadena 1.5 years ago.
The way we can talk about our lives at 31 years old is much different than the chatter of living so much in the present while at college. While 21, we are dealing with this ever present feeling of a nascent future exciting and agitating us all at the same time. Being younger, our past is just years removed, while at 31, we have the whole wide spans of our childhood and young adulthood to page through.
It’s kind of a special thing to be able to examine our 20s. Meg Jay, a clinical psychologist who specializes in studying people in their 20s, noted in a TED Talk that:
- “80 percent of life’s most defining moments take place by age 35…
- The first 10 years of a career has an exponential impact on how much money you’re going to earn…
- More than half of Americans are married or are living with or dating their future partner by 30.
- The brain caps off its second and last growth spurt in your 20s as it rewires itself for adulthood, which means that whatever it is you want to change about yourself, now is the time to change it.
- Personality changes more during your 20s than at any other time in life.
- Female fertility peaks at age 28, and things get tricky after age 35.
So your 20s are the time to educate yourself about your body and your options.”
She also noted that, “Journalists coin silly nicknames for twenty somethings like “twixters” and “kidults.”
Nadeige and Alan – and myself – are aware and living through much of what Meg Jay describes in her TED Talk:
“The post-millennial midlife crisis isn’t buying a red sports car. It’s realizing you can’t have that career you now want. It’s realizing you can’t have that child you now want, or you can’t give your child a sibling.”
There is enormous thirtysomething pressure to jump-start a career, pick a city, partner up, and have two or three kids in a much shorter period of time. Many of these things are incompatible, and as research is just starting to show, simply harder and more stressful to do all at once in our 30s.”
While fortunately Nadeige is happy in the career she started straight out of college, Alan and I are still figuring what it is we want to do, and what goals we may have that sway how we use the time in our 30s – often considered a peak period in one’s career. We have had enough time to develop our skills in our 20s, so how do we best apply what we have learned in a fulfilling and robust pathway in our 30s?
Alan recently switched careers, after many years at Wireless, to start up an arcade building company with a few of his friends that live in Dumbo. They create the world’s only 10-player arcade strategy game – Killer Queen – a console many busy bars will buy that allows for a fun, social, 5 versus 5 video game competition. This creation lies amidst a collection of fun, social, non-arcade games, including Pigeon Piñata and 30-person Pixel Prison Blues, that his company creates.
There is caution in his voice when he talks about switching from a well-paid position with an established company to taking on the risk and lower salary of moving to a startup. However, he has worked hard the last decade and saved up, while Nadeige was 100% supportive of him in making the transition to a more exciting and satisfying career path.
I am excited to see what happens for Alan and his company and only wish I could see them more often. As for myself, with my post-millennial midlife crisis, I must figure out what I am going to do next with my career, having quit my decade long career as an educator in NYC to pursue an animal rights activist position in California – that I have now quit as well.
Do I return to what I have done in the past or move on to something completely new? That remains the question to be answered in the next month or two.