Meg Jay Profile Photo

Meg Jay

Keynote Speaker

Author of The Defining Decade and Supernormal; Clinical Psychologist at the University of Virginia

"80 percent of life's most defining moments take place by age 35." – Meg Jay

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Meg Jay, PhD, is a developmental clinical psychologist who specializes in twentysomethings. She is the author of The Twentysomething Treatment: A Revolutionary Remedy for an Uncertain AgeSupernormal: The Secret World of the Family Hero and the cult-classic The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter and How to Make the Most of Them Now. Her books have been translated into more than a dozen languages and her work has appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Harvard Business Review, and on NPR, BBC and — maybe most important for her audience — TikTok. 

A recent New York Times profile called Dr. Jay “the patron saint of striving youth” and her TED talk “Why 30 Is Not the New 20” is among the most watched to date. Dr. Jay earned a doctorate in clinical psychology, and in gender studies, from the University of California, Berkeley. She is on faculty at the University of Virginia and maintains a private practice in Charlottesville.

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Meg Jay
Why 30 is not the new 20 | Meg Jay

Meg Jay’s Speech Topics

  • The Twentysomething Treatment: A Revolutionary Remedy for an Uncertain Age

    There is a young adult mental health crisis in America, and it is a crisis of proportion and of perception too. So many twentysomethings are struggling—especially with anxiety, depression and substance use—yet, as a culture, we are not sure what to think or do. Perhaps, it is said, they are snowflakes who melt when life turns up the heat. Or maybe, some argue, they’re triggered for no reason at all. Yet, even as we trivialize twentysomething struggles, we are quick to pathologize them and to hand out diagnoses and medications to young adults whose brains and bodies and lives are still on the move.

    Hear developmental clinical psychologist, Meg Jay, talk about her age-specific approach to young adult mental health. Her work is a proven prescription that reveals what twenty-five years of work with young adults—and the latest research—can teach us about what works with this age group. It is a revolutionary remedy that upends the medicalization of young adult life and stands up instead for skills over pills.

    In this talk, you’ll hear about three key routes to better mental health: education, experience and expectations. You'll learn why our twenties are the most difficult time of life as well as what uncertainty has to do with mental health. You'll find out why our mental health is most likely to improve outside of a doctor’s office—through skill-building—and why, for the young adult brain in particular, the time for skill-building is now. You'll learn about the skills twentysomethings need—or what exactly they need to be practicing or doing—for better mental health in their twenties and beyond. You'll find out why mental health gets better as we get older and why, in the meantime, embracing uncertainty may be the most life-changing skill of all.

    Mental health has never been more in the zeitgeist as today’s youth are the most willing in history to talk openly about it and to seek help. Yet, what kind of help they find and what those conversations are matters, not just for twentysomethings today but for the thirtysomethings and fortysomethings and fiftysomethings they may become. It is time to take young adult mental health seriously, not because twentysomethings cannot get better but because they can. 


    Did you know that 75 percent of all mental health problems emerge by the age of 25? Or that, on average, people wait eight years before they seek help?

    In this eye-opening talk, Meg Jay argues there is a mental health crisis is afoot in young America – and it is a crisis not just of proportion but of perception, too. Record numbers of young adults are struggling with symptoms of anxiety, depression, eating disorders, substance abuse problems, and more. Yet, as a culture, we tend not to take the problems of young adults seriously.

    While the media might point to “helicopter parents” or “narcissistic kids,” Jay shines a light on the fact that 21st-Century twentysomethings are living with a staggering, unprecedented amount of uncertainty, both in their personal lives and in the larger world around them. She shows us how this uncertainty is experienced in our brains and bodies as a significant source of danger and stress.

    Given that uncertainty is certainly here to stay, Jay argues that if we take young adult struggles seriously sooner – and learn to live courageously during what may feel like our most dangerous years – then millions of women and men will be healthier and happier people, partners, parents, and workers.


    Whether it is bullying, the loss of a parent to divorce or death, alcoholism or substance abuse in the home, a mentally ill parent or sibling, domestic violence or neglect, or emotional, physical or sexual abuse, 75 percent of us experience at least one significant adversity by the age of 20.


    Did you know that 80 percent of life’s most defining moments take place before age 35? That the brain changes more in our 20s than at any other time in adulthood? That personality changes more in our 20s than at any other time in life? That the first ten years of work have an exponential impact on success? That over half of us are married or dating or living with our future partner by the age of 30?

    With authority, humor, and compassion, Meg Jay argues that our “30-is-the-new-20” culture trivializes what is actually the most transformative period of our adult lives. In this inspiring and practical talk, she makes clear just how much our 20s do matter and how you – or your twentysomething students, workers, or children – can make the most of them now.

    • Why “Who am I?” is a question best answered not with a protracted identity crisis, but with one or two good pieces of something called identity capital

    • How joining the world of work can make us feel better, not worse

    • Why it’s the people we hardly know, and not our closest friends, who will change our lives for the better

    • How the twentysomething brain gives us our best chance to change who we are

    • Why living together may not be the best way to test a relationship

    • How we pick our families and not just our friends

    ‘The Defining Decade’ is a talk – and a developmental sweet spot –you don’t want to miss.


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