The twenties is generally understood as a time for finding oneself and commonly an identity crisis is expected to happen. Dr. Meg Jay had a client come in with this understanding but Jay realized this young women was caught up in the idea of the identity crisis just like many other twentysomethings she had seen before. Identity crisis can happen during the twenties, but thinking that self awareness will just suddenly find you without action is the wrong view.
Erik Salomonsen grew up with a confusing combination of colliding cultures which left him confused about his own identity. Dr. Meg Jay shares insight on Erik’s life after high school.
“After High School, Erik hoped to become an artist. He traveled around Europe, taking art classes and sometimes sleeping under bridges. At twenty-five, he returned to Germany and worked as an art teacher, studied Montessori education, got married, and started a family. After teaching the children of some very prominent psychoanlysts, Erik was analyzed by Sigmund Freud’s daughter Anna, and he went on to earn a degree in psychoanalysis.
In his thirties, Erik moved his family to the United States, where he became a famed psychoanalyst and developmental theorist. He taught at Harvard, Yale, and Berkeley and wrote several books before winning a Pulitzer Prize. Hinting at his feelings of fatherlessness and his status as a self-made man, he changed his name to Erik Erikson, meaning “Erik, son of himself.” Erik Erikson is best known for coining the term “identity crisis.” It was 1950.”
Erik Erikson‘s life made him believe that an identity crisis wasn’t a negative experience, but one that everyone had to go through. Everyone should explore themselves and create his or her own self. Erik Erikson did have a period of wondering and exploration, but he picked up capital along the way. He didn’t just wonder about Europe waiting for his identity crisis to suddenly clear up. Instead, he took classes, got a teaching job, got married and by thirty he had the right capital to set him up for the life he wanted for himself. His crisis and capital happened at the same time.
We, twentysomethings, need to remember Erik Erikson’s example. We should take the time to discover a sense of our true self but also remember to invest in ourselves concretely. Invest in ourselves by enlisting in identity capital opportunities. If you have an identity crisis that drives you to go on a back packing trip through Europe, think of Erik Erikson, invest in some capital along the way.
In my next post we will see how Dr. Meg Jay took advantage of her freedom as a twentysomething but also remembered to stay on track for what she truly wanted.
*All quotes from this post and this post series come from The Defining Decade and should be accredited to Dr. Meg Jay.*