ASK E. JEAN: JANE EYRE HAD LIVED, LIKE, 17 LIVES BY THE TIME SHE TURNED 23
A young woman asks E. Jean if she is falling behind the curve for her age.
By E. Jean
DEAR E. JEAN: Serious question: Does life actually get better after you get past your twenties? Success was already starting to happen to the Brontë sisters by the time they reached my age: 23. I’m falling behind my peers and feel I can’t catch up! Please tell me the thirties are better. —Your Wilting Gardenia
GARDENIA, YOU YOUNG BLOCKHEAD: Bah! You’ll spend your thirties regretting how you fouled up your twenties if you run around comparing yourself with those three little English stiffs. A live girl is better than a dead icon.
Because, if you’re lucky, you’ll live many lives, Miss G. And if you’re very lucky, you’ll live several of those lives in your twenties. To help you understand that blazing thirties begin with the decisions you make in your twenties—the torrid twenties!—I’ve chosen, as my afternoon’s employment, to examine all the letters from women in their thirties (men deserve their own study) that the Ask Eeee column has received in the past two years. Here are my findings:
The (Unofficial) Top 10 Things Women in Their Thirties Regret Having Done in Their Twenties 1. Marrying the wrong chap 2. Starting their careers too late 3. Losing their lissome figures 4. Having kids too soon 5. Not marrying the right chap when he asked 6. Living the lives their parents wanted 7. Running no risks 8. Pursuing no purpose 9. Never quite believing in themselves 10. Sticking with a series of chumps, dickweeds, and half-wits, all of whom ended up borrowing money
The lamentations from correspondents regarding number seven alone, Miss Gardenia, would cause you to push through the violent hordes of your competitive contemporaries and seize the day! According to Meg Jay, PhD, author of The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter—and How to Make the Most of Them Now, two-thirds of career wage growth happens in the first 10 years of working.
So get the best job you can get (Jeremy Renner took gigs as a makeup artist when he couldn’t get past a callback), keep a playful attitude, run some risks, and admire the backs of your thighs—they’ll never be as tight again. In your twenties you’re the scriptwriter of your life. In your thirties, you’re the script doctor.