In my younger and more impressionable years, I imagined that my “dirty thirties” to be the time I’d be juggling babies, a husband, a PhD in Clinical Psychology and a burgeoning career all while looking devastatingly chic in head-to-toe designer clothes. Fast forward to today where I’m knee-deep in my thirties with only one out of the four “desired” goals under my Forever 21 belt, I feel fine.
While I’m all for aiming high and achieving goals, there came a day when I realized that I was spending too much time planning for and imagining what I thought was my ideal future and wondering where these goals even came from. Allow me to elaborate. I had the above-mentioned goals for as long as I can remember but what escapes my memory is how and when I began thinking that this was the only path to happiness. Now I’m not trying to point fingers at anyone or anything, I just want to know when I started carrying more about the acronyms behind my name than being content. Why was I so intent on having a certain number of children by a specific age or filling my closet with certain types of clothes?
Obviously I got caught up wanting to one-up my peers and wanting to exceed my family’s ever-growing expectations on what a good daughter should do with her life. I’m glad that I challenged myself but I’m also glad that I didn’t achieve all these “goals.” Over the years I’ve made more mistakes than I care to admit and fell short of mine and my family’s expectations yet I’m still happy.
I’m on my second marriage and I have no children. I stopped attending college after I obtained my Master’s degree, work as a freelancer and I hardly have any clothing that would quality as designer(in my delusional twenty-something-year old mind anyway). The reason all of my verbal diarrhea is to reassure others. I want to reassure anyone who is approaching or is in their thirties and feeling anxious, discouraged or just plain unfulfilled that despite how you feel, you’re okay. You’re the right track, doing just fine and it’s normal to feel an overwhelming variety of emotions.
How do I know this? Well, aside from the fact that I’m older and wiser (wink, wink) I know this because life has a way of working itself out. Without getting too preachy or coming off like a orator, please know that no matter how chaotic, boring, unrewarding or lonely it might feel right now, it’ll be okay. I’m not just saying these things to make anyone feel better or try to predict the future; I’m saying this because it really is true. Yes, you have control over certain areas of your life but there are also aspects that are beyond your control no matter how hard you try to control them.
I urge you to enjoy life as it is now. No matter if you’re 29 or 39, don’t allow your chronological age to determine how you live and what you do. Don’t expect your life to magically change once you reach a certain age or allow yourself to buy into the belief that you must be a certain type of person by a specific time.
My “dirty thirties” were supposed to be the highlight of my life, and it is, just not for the same reasons as before. I never thought I would be saying that not making a six-figure income or not having a few little ones by now would be okay but it really is! So far, my thirties have been anything but predictable and I expect it to continue to be that way.
If you’re approaching your thirties and feel like the end of your cool and carefree days are over, think again. If you’re in your thirties and kick yourself daily for not living your life a certain way, stop! Let your “dirty thirties” be what they are and let go of the expectations. Embrace opportunities to grow, let loose and do what you like! Accept fine lines and grey hairs as a part of the process of maturing and don’t ever let yourself be the one who stops you from doing what you want, when you want.