Why 30 is not the new 20.

by girlontheave on May 22, 2013

Every once in awhile I come across a compelling article or talk at a critical moment in my life, and it really puts things into perspective for me. Not that it solves my problems, it just challenges me to approach it in a different light. So in the last few months, having turned a year older, still seeking that elusive career a year out of grad school and staring in the face of uncertainty, I was glad to stumble on Meg Jay’s powerful Ted talk this morning. What clinical psychologist Jay said really brought it home for me – your 20s are that precious, definitive decade where you should set out to do meaningful things that add value to your identity and your life.  Not wait around for your 30s when you’re (supposedly) more mature, settled and accomplished.  Of course one might argue that age is just be a number, but regardless of whatever stage you are in life, I think her message is applicable and we should always immerse ourselves in a continuous process of self-improvement and growth, building the identity capital she talks about.

I encourage you to watch the entire video, but here are the important bits alongside my favorite parts:

Claiming your 20s is one of the simplest, yet most transformative, things you can do for work, for love, for your happiness, maybe even for the world.

This is not my opinion. These are the facts. We know that 80 percent of life’s most defining moments take place by age 35. That means that eight out of 10 of the decisions and experiences and “Aha!” moments that make your life what it is will have happened by your mid-30s.

We know that the first 10 years of a career has an exponential impact on how much money you’re going to earn. We know that more than half of Americans are married or are living with or dating their future partner by 30. We know that 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. We know that personality changes more during your 20s than at any other time in life, and we know that 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.

So when we think about child development, we all know that the first five years are a critical period for language and attachment in the brain. It’s a time when your ordinary, day-to-day life has an inordinate impact on who you will become. But what we hear less about is that there’s such a thing as adult development, and our 20s are that critical period of adult development.

But this isn’t what twenty-somethings are hearing. Newspapers talk about the changing timetable of adulthood. Researchers call the 20s an extended adolescence. Journalists coin silly nicknames for twenty-somethings like “twixters” and “kidults.” It’s true. As a culture, we have trivialized what is actually the defining decade of adulthood.

Leonard Bernstein said that to achieve great things, you need a plan and not quite enough time. Isn’t that true? So what do you think happens when you pat a twenty-something on the head and you say, “You have 10 extra years to start your life”? Nothing happens. You have robbed that person of his urgency and ambition, and absolutely nothing happens.

When a lot has been pushed to your 30s, there is enormous thirty-something 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.

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. Too many thirty-somethings and forty-somethings look at themselves, and at me, sitting across the room, and say about their 20s, “What was I doing? What was I thinking?”

Forget about having an identity crisis and get some identity capital. By get identity capital, I mean do something that adds value to who you are. Do something that’s an investment in who you might want to be next.

So now is the time for that cross-country job, that internship, that startup you want to try. I’m not discounting twenty-something exploration here, but I am discounting exploration that’s not supposed to count, which, by the way, is not exploration. That’s procrastination…explore work and make it count.

The urban tribe is overrated. Best friends are great for giving rides to the airport, but twenty-somethings who huddle together with like-minded peers limit who they know, what they know, how they think, how they speak, and where they work. That new piece of capital, that new person to date almost always comes from outside the inner circle. New things come from what are called our weak ties, our friends of friends of friends. So yes, half of twentysomethings are un- or under-employed. But half aren’t, and weak ties are how you get yourself into that group. Half of new jobs are never posted, so reaching out to your neighbor’s boss is how you get that un-posted job. It’s not cheating. It’s the science of how information spreads.

The time to start picking your family is now. Now you may be thinking that 30 is actually a better time to settle down than 20, or even 25, and I agree with you. But grabbing whoever you’re living with or sleeping with when everyone on Facebook starts walking down the aisle is not progress. The best time to work on your marriage is before you have one, and that means being as intentional with love as you are with work. Picking your family is about consciously choosing who and what you want rather than just making it work or killing time with whoever happens to be choosing you.

Twenty-somethings are like airplanes just leaving LAX, bound for somewhere west. Right after takeoff, a slight change in course is the difference between landing in Alaska or Fiji. Likewise, at 21 or 25 or even 29, one good conversation, one good break, one good TED Talk, can have an enormous effect across years and even generations to come.

Thirty is not the new 20, so claim your adulthood, get some identity capital, use your weak ties, pick your family. Don’t be defined by what you didn’t know or didn’t do. You’re deciding your life right now.


In Pursuit of Passion.

by girlontheave on January 23, 2013

Clearly, I’ve fallen into a blogging blackhole, and I’ve been awful at keeping up with this space. I still want to document the things and places that catch my eye, gather some of my (fragmented and random) everyday musings…putting together the bits and pieces of my life. Let’s start slow, shall we?

Lately I’ve been in kind of a rut. The “what do I want to do with my life” type of existential questions have been popping up lately. I know what I’m passionate about, it’s getting there that has been on my mind. But really, it’s important to remember that struggling and dealing with challenges is part of the journey. Nothing worth doing ever comes easy – an oft-repeated yet still easily forgotten saying.  Most of us hold on to perfectionist ideals, myself included, but in reality, things hardly pan out according to the picture-perfect script in our head. So yes, it’s okay to make mistakes, but more importantly to learn from them.

Another crucial aspect of pursuing your passion – setting realistic goals for yourself so you’re not aimlessly drifting towards this dream. And then I came across this nifty flowchart today on Design*Sponge – while it pertains to starting a business, I think it is just as applicable to pursuing your passions in life. It may seem simple enough but I think many of us lose sight of ourselves as we get caught up in the busyness of everyday, so it helps to have little reminders like this to nudge us in the right direction.

Someone also shared with me that she admired a co-worker who was great at setting goals…she detailed her weekly, monthly and yearly goals, and the concrete steps she had to take to achieve them. As time-consuming and rigorous as it sounds, I think the discipline helps. Maybe you don’t want to make it a weekly thing, but how about setting  monthly, quarterly and yearly goals? That’s where I plan to start, and I’m going to get cracking by finally ordering that Moleskine tonight.

Credit//Lisa Congdon for Design*Sponge


Apple Cake.

by girlontheave on November 9, 2012

On a rainy day, the warmth and scent of something delicious baking in the oven is so uplifting. I was exhausted from my workout so I picked something that was easy and quick to put together. I am always hesitant about cakes and bread because if you mess up one step, it can ruin everything and all your time and effort’s gone to waste. But doing more baking recently has given me more confidence, even if frozen puff pastry sheets play a starring role. The trick, really, is to start small and go for straightforward, tried and tested recipes. Then practice, practice, practice so you get better each time.

This chopped apple cake by Ashley of Not Without Salt is my first attempt  in recent memory at a cake of sorts and also an effort to use up the seemingly endless harvest of apples from a recent apple picking trip at the Oak Glen orchards. Last weekend I baked an apple pie from scratch (will share more on that soon) and can’t get enough of the rustic flavors of the season, so I’ve been bookmarking plenty of apple recipes (much like my berry obsession in summer). This recipe is far less elaborate than a pie, completely achievable on a weeknight and practically foolproof.  It feels like a cross between bread and cake – a wonderful balance in my book. I do so love the crumbly top that’s far from dry, and how moist it turned out. Dessert, breakfast and tea for the next few days…settled.


Getting Social.

by girlontheave on November 6, 2012

I don’t get to blog as often as I would like to, but you’ll find that I’m way more active on Instagram and as of this weekend my newest obsession, Pinterest (that I have attempted to resist, clearly to no avail!).



I do have some blog posts lined up, so thank you for patiently sticking around all this while!


Edible Notables.

by girlontheave on November 4, 2012

Always grateful for the slower pace that the weekend brings – the game plan this time is to not make any plans at all – and thought I would share some of the delicious reads that I have come across and bookmarked over the past month. Inspired by Ashley’s roundup last month, I came across these in the course of doing research for work (how fun is that?). I hope you’ll enjoy them as much as I do!

Penned by LA-based Adrianna Adarme, A Cozy Kitchen is a collection of recipes that perfectly expresses the blog title. It’s comforting, indulgent, creative…yet nothing too complicated. There’s plenty of  breakfast foods here that you’ll want to dig into over the weekend, lots of desserts too, and mouthwatering appetizers to inspire for your next dinner party.  Throw in scrumptious snapshots and clear instructions and trust me, you’ll find yourself with a long list of recipes to try out from here.

Formerly an aspiring pastry chef plating desserts at Spago in Beverly Hills, Ashley is now devoted to her husband and three young family in Seattle. Sharing her stories of feeding both her family and passion of food on Not Without Salt, she illuminates the process of cooking good food that’s wholesome, nutritious and satisfying. It is also a beautifully penned peek into her family life, and rightly so, for food is so important in bringing people together.

Last but not least, there’s Honey & Jam by Hannah Queen. She may only be 22, but Hannah is such a talented photographer and baker. Her passion for what she does is palpable – the blog is brimming with gorgeous, light-filled photos and has such a cozy, rustic feel to it. You can sense her appreciation for the simple everyday moments, her love for nature and her joy for whipping up cakes and pies and muffins and biscuits.




by girlontheave on October 18, 2012

This sums up my penchant for bright hues and pretty prints quite eloquently.



Getty Villa.

by girlontheave on October 7, 2012

Sometime ago, I spent an afternoon at the Getty Villa in Malibu. It was built by oil baron J. Paul Getty, when his  art collection outgrew the gallery adjacent to his home in the Pacific Palisades (he sure has lots to go around!). The museum specializes in the arts and cultures of ancient Greece, Rome and Etruria – but while I wasn’t able to fully appreciate the art, I found myself drawn to the Roman-inspired architecture and gardens. Perched on top of a hill, the villa is a replica of a first century Roman country house in the ancient town of Herculaneum near Pompeii,  wiped out following the eruption of Vesuvius.

History aside, it is absolutely breathtaking. Manicured landscaped gardens, pristine Roman columns, lush Mediterranean plants, sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean, lavish marble and gold embellishments, mural-covered walls – it’s pretty much like the modern day version of walking through a historical site, full of awe-inspiring design and intricate details replete with significance.

My camera was low on battery (and incessantly reminded me so), but I’m so glad it lasted till we made it out!

Entry is free but timed entry tickets have to be secured in advance here.


The Bookshelf is Full.

by girlontheave on October 7, 2012

Two  acquisitions this week that won’t fit on an already crammed bookshelf – the all-new, wholesome cookbook by Sprouted Kitchen (Her recipes are easy to follow, healthy and tasty, in fact I’m baking these for breakfast tomorrow) and a classic heavyweight (literally), Martha Stewart’s Cooking School to pick up new skills and techniques from the doyenne of domesticity herself.

I also noticed that there has been a series of food bloggers coming out with books – Smitten Kitchen, Spoon Fork Bacon, Cannelle et Vanille and La Tartine Gourmande to name a few.  Just curious – are there any that you will be adding to your reading list?


Ladylike Advice.

by girlontheave on October 5, 2012

The weekend is almost here, and it has been a sobering day (like almost getting run over by a speeding car while crossing the road). To lighten things up a bit, thought i’d share a cute print that made me giggle (even if i’m not a whiskey fan). Happy weekend my friends!

Credit: Mary Kate McDevitt


The Art of Doing.

by girlontheave on October 3, 2012

The month of October started on the first day of a brand new week. It hit me that we only have three more months till the end of the year. What have I accomplished? What have I said that I wanted to do but kept pushing back? It’s always tempting to get swept up in the busyness of life. The waves of to-dos that pile up barely before you’ve crossed out your old checklist. But it was a sobering thought. Honestly I haven’t been posting much in this space because I’ve been feeling lost, a sensation that’s new-to-me. But I’m working on it. I’m working on doing things that I’m genuinely passionate about, that make me happy, that fill me with drive. The fire-in-my-belly type of stuff.  Not things that look good on paper or that people feel you need to do in order to be taken seriously. Life’s too short and precious for that.

In the exercise studio I go to (officially a year now, a milestone in itself), there is a sign that just says “DO”. It is a simple, but powerful verb. It implies action with mindfulness. In that context of working out, it is about staying committed to improving your fitness and changing your body for the better, however tough the class may seem, or however more flexible the person next to us is. At the end I somehow find that I have much more energy and strength, and I can sit up a little taller. But it can also be extrapolated to life itself – that we need to go for what truly matters to us with conviction and dedication, no matter the bumps in the road or the naysayers. It won’t be easy, but it is incredibly rewarding to pursue the things that make our heart beat a little faster (in a good way). For the rest of the year, I’m going to be focusing more on greater self-awareness as I embrace the art of doing. And already, there is so much to be excited for and look forward to.