Turning 30: My life isn’t all figured out. Is yours?
Between the ages of 20 and 30 many people marry, buy homes, have children, and reach pivotal points in their career. Seeing these things happen around you (and on your Facebook newsfeed) can strike up all kinds of thoughts and emotions, especially if you’re not ‘there’ yet. I know I’ve felt this pressure over the years.
Life can sometimes feel like a race against your peers to find the perfect partner, perfect career and perfect life so you can officially become a fully fledged grown-up. This is a huge amount of pressure to put on ourselves and it can be exhausting!
How silly was I to think that I would ever have it all figured out? In actual fact if I was celebrating my 30th birthday thinking “great, that’s me done, I’ve achieved all I need to and anything else is a bonus” that would be a bit dull wouldn’t it?
For much of my twenties I’ve focused a lot on reaching the destination of ‘proper’ adulthood. At thirty I thought I’d have all the answers and know exactly what I want from my life and have a clear vision of how it’s going to turn out. As the years have gone on I’ve realised that life doesn’t really work like that. We constantly change and evolve, re-prioritise and move the goal posts. My vision for myself in my early twenties is vastly different to the reality of my life as I enter my thirties and that’s ok.
Worrying about the future doesn’t help
Perhaps my biggest and most valuable lesson from my twenties (and there have been many) is not to constantly live in the future, worrying about what is going to happen next. I broke up with my long term boyfriend at 21 and after the initial heartbreak, I was constantly thinking what’s next? who’s next?
In my mid-twenties I visited New York at a time when I was at a crossroads in my career and was so worried about what was next that I had a headache for most of the trip and woke up worrying everyday about what I was going to do next. What a waste!
I don’t do well with uncertainty and I always feel the need to have a plan. This can work in my favour in terms of keeping me driven and focused but it can also go the other way and stand in the way of me stopping to smell the roses. In recent years I’ve learned to enjoy the present moment a lot more than I used to, gaining the overriding sense that what will be, will be. I feel so much more free by learning this valuable lesson and things are panning out just fine, now that I’m going with the flow a bit more.
No such thing as perfect
I’ve also learnt throughout my twenties that nothing is ever perfect. I am a bit of a perfectionist and have high standards, so I have a tendency to get wrapped up in idealised views of how things will pan out. In the past if things haven’t worked out exactly as I imagined I’ve got upset, angry, disappointed etc.. The older I get the more I realise that nothing can be perfect and we can’t control everything, as much as I love to try!
As human beings we like it when things ‘tick all our boxes’ whether that’s in our search for a new home, new job, a partner etc.. With this comes the tendency to see it as failure if we settle for something (or someone) that is slightly removed from our idealised view of what is right for us. How do we really know what is ‘right’ for us? We are not psychic. Perhaps there is no right or wrong when it comes to the big decisions in life. We can only do what feels right at the time.
Intuition is my friend
Sometimes we have no choice but to be guided by our intuition and that is something I rely on more and more as the years go on. I can trust it more than I did in my early twenties. Where I saw my career going two years ago is different to where it is now and that’s ok because I’ve changed in that time. Opportunities have come my way and I’ve used my intuition to guide me in certain directions. Being open to new things that are outside of what you thought was your ‘ideal’ scenario is actually quite liberating.
If, like me, you’re hitting a milestone birthday soon it is a great opportunity for reflection. Celebrate your experiences, your relationships and the fact that you’re still alive and kicking with everything you need to enjoy your next decade. Who knows what’s around the corner. Life works in mysterious ways and be open to new things, new challenges and new people. You may find yourself in a situation which is far different from what you thought your ideal life looked like, I know I have in the last decade.
Now is the time for me to well and truly do away with the idea that I will one day ‘have it all figured out.’ We all do things at different times, for different reasons and you can’t always control how things are going to pan out and in what order. As I step in my thirties, and for once in my life, I’m embracing the uncertainty!