Turning 30 can be intimidating and frightening to some people, as it’s a major milestone that marks the gateway to one’s middle years.
In addition to the anxiety that some people experience when birthdays roll around,
society has programmed many to believe that they need to have achieved X number of things by this age.
And that if a person doesn’t have their sh*t together by the time they’re 30, they’re stunted in some kind of stage of arrested development.
By this age, many feel that they are expected to be married/partnered, have started a family, or be firmly settled in a career.
If this isn’t the case, they’re convinced that they’ll end up as pariahs with 70 cats, squatting in someone’s basement forever.
Isn’t that ridiculous?
Below are a few errors that many make once the dust has settled on their 30th birthday celebrations.
1. Assuming If Their Career Isn’t Solid Yet, It Never Will Be
TV shows and films in which people are happily established in their careers relatively early in life may be entertaining and all, but please keep in mind that those are fictions.
Our parents’ and grandparents’ generations may have leaned slightly more in that direction, but some of the most successful people of their eras didn’t really get started until their 30s or 40s either.
The reason this happens is that we really don’t figure ourselves out until we’re in our 30s.
When we’re younger, we may have ideas about what we like, what we’d like to do as a career, and what kind of lives we’d like to lead.
But those all change quite drastically as we age – as we develop a stronger sense of self, and realize what it is we really want to do with the time we have left.
You may have dreamt of becoming a journalist, but then decided you’d rather open up a bakery. Alternatively, you might have started a family quite early, but then realized that your dream was to pursue medicine, or law, or even archaeology.
If you hate what you’re doing and would rather be doing something else, make it happen.
You’ll be happier, and success will come a lot more quickly and easily than it ever will slogging through a job you hate.
2. Thinking They’ll Be Single Forever: All The “Good” Ones Are Taken
Much like the career path issue mentioned above, many people believe that if they haven’t met their true love by the time the big 3-0 rolls around, they’ll be single forever.
A lot of people pair up in their teens or twenties, and cling desperately to a person they get along with “well enough” because they’re afraid that they’ll never find another one, and they don’t want to be alone.
Is that really a reason to stay with someone, though?
Or dating someone just because they’re single, you’re single, and you don’t hate each other all the time?
As mentioned above, most people are really only beginning to be confident and happy in their own skins by their 30th birthday… and a relationship that worked well when people were 21 may fall apart when they’re 31, because both parties have changed beyond recognition.
Idealists may become more pragmatic, stoics may become adventurers, those who wanted children may decide against that choice (or vice-versa).
Any number of situations can change. And usually will.
The key to remember here is that this type of thing happens to pretty much everyone, so you can rest assured that if you’re dealing with a breakup in your 30s, other people are as well, and likely for the same reasons.
There are billions of people on this planet: know that there are many out there with whom you can connect on amazing, authentic levels.
This is one of the more devastating mindsets that people over 30 can get stuck in: believing that they have to stay in a situation that’s sucking their will to live, solely because it’s somehow “too late” to start over.
Whether it’s a career they despise, a relationship that has stopped working, or even a city that’s smothering them, they feel that they’ve now passed the point at which they’re allowed to make new choices in life, and just have to stick with what they’ve got for the rest of their lives.
…which, if they live into their 80s, is a solid 50 years of misery.
Every single day grants you the ability to start over again.
Hell, every MINUTE, never mind every day.
At any point in time, you can change direction toward a life that would make you feel happier and more fulfilled, and it is never too late to do so.
4. Being Unforgiving And Critical About Their Bodies
It’s generally once we hit 30 that our youthful appearance starts to fade a little bit.
Stress, exposure to sun and wind, and just regular wear and tear show on our bodies, much to many people’s dismay.
In fact, eating disorders are just as common among people in their 30s and 40s as in teenagers.
As bodies start to show age, people ramp up their attempts to keep looking as young and fit as possible.
Some even opt for treatments like plastic surgery or Botox to try to reverse these obvious signs of aging…
…but those signs are just going to reassert themselves, my dear.
So be gentle with you.
Those lines around your eyes? It takes a thousand repeated movements for a line to be truly established in one’s skin, so just think of how many times you’ve smiled to create every laugh line.
Stretch marks from pregnancy are well-earned signs of motherhood.
Lessened muscle mass in a man = more time spent being present and engaged in matters outside a gym.
You are so much more than the sum of your appearance, and you are more beautiful with every passing day because you’re getting to know yourself better, becoming a luminous light being with greater wisdom, greater compassion.
So. Please, again, be as kind to yourself as you would be to a vulnerable child in your care.
Different People, Different Paths
If you’ve reached 30 (or 40, or 50, or beyond) and haven’t met the same milestones or achieved the same things that others have, please don’t fret.
No two people are alike, and the journeys we take through our lives are as unique as we are.
Catherine Winter is a writer, art director, and herbalist-in-training based in Quebec's Outaouais. She has been known to subsist on coffee and soup for days at a time, and when she isn't writing or tending her garden, she can be found wrestling with various knitting projects and befriending local wildlife.