I was never one of those girls who had anxieties about my age. I love surprises and challenges, new adventures and change. I never dreaded the next birthday, or regretted a past one. I always wanted to embrace the future, perhaps because my love of the unknown is so rich.
And then I turned 30.
It slapped me in the face.
It was a wake up call, a set back, a plunge into the abyss instead of into the welcome and usually exciting unknown. I found myself questioning everything I thought I knew before (which was a lot) and realizing I actually know very little about anything.
At least that’s how it felt, when I had a self-described 30-life crisis (or perhaps a 1/3 life crisis, as the guy I was dating at the time put it) and my world came raining down. I started to wonder if I even knew who I was, what I wanted in life, if my current entrepreneurial endeavor was the right path for me, if I wanted to give up writing…
Then I slapped myself in the face.
What at first felt like a self-deprecating prophecy (that I knew nothing about life) soon became an opportunity for knowledge. What did I want to know? In today’s information age, I can put myself through a rigorous college course in almost anything my heart desires: Building a business? Check. Investing in real estate? Check. Learning Spanish? Writing and publishing? Meaningful travel? Check, check, check!
If you’re approaching 30, or are already there, I’m willing to bet you will also share some of my doubts about your future. I’m also positive you’ll pull through with a better understanding of yourself and your dreams and be stronger because of it.
You re-evaluate your life.
Maybe you’re debating on going for a big promotion at work, or thinking about changing careers all together. Something more fulfilling by chance? Perhaps you’re regretting not doing something in your twenties, and it’s eating you up inside. Did you dream of teaching English abroad but got wrapped up in your career? Or taking off on a one-way ticket to find yourself, and never did? Or starting your own business? Whatever you’re questioning about your path in life, now is the time to change direction and start working toward the one you know in your heart is right for you.
You narrow down your priorities.
In my twenties, I wanted to do it all, see it all and know it all. Now that I’m 30, I’m realizing that’s an impossible feat and that I need to narrow down my priorities so I can learn more about them. Then, when I feel content with those, I can improve other areas. This might mean taking on a few less extra curricular activities so you can really improve your tennis game, or climbing passion. It might mean learning to say “no” when you’re invited to something that doesn’t benefit you. It might mean honing in on that cooking skill you’ve wanted to perfect but have put off for years. Regardless of your priorities, you’re now getting them in order.
You get smart about your finances.
If you’re like me, you spent your twenties buying plane tickets with every spare penny you could dredge up (and if there weren’t any pennies, there were always credit cards justified by free miles!). Now that you’re 30, you’re beginning to think about your finances a bit differently. Personally, I know I’ll never stop spending spare pennies on plane tickets (especially with amazing flight deals like these), but I did take a step back to re-evaluate how I’d been managing my money in the past (I wasn’t) and then I set goals and plans toward a path of financial freedom in my future. It means finally getting financially smart about paying off debts, saving for the future, and growing my income. In doing that, there will be even more money for plenty more adventures ahead.
You start thinking about buying real estate.
Perhaps all your friends are getting married and buying a house, and you’re feeling the pressure to stop wasting your money on rent (ie someone else’s mortgage). I was living footloose and fancy (ie: rent-) free for the past year, and when that deal ended I was faced with the harsh reality of paying rent, and I didn’t like it. It made me begin to consider buying real estate, and then to get serious about it and make a plan. If you’re feeling the itch, start getting serious about what your plan could look like, and how you can make it happen.
You choose your friends and mentors wisely.
After high school and college, we often end up with a gaggle of friends we grow away from. Turning 30 comes with a realization that it’s okay to let those friendships go, and that you’ll make new ones who will understand and support where you’re at in this stage of life. There are no more grudges to be held or regrets for not trying harder at a failed friendship. It’s the confidence and maturity to move on, to put yourself first, and to wish the others well.
You want to be unapologetically you.
After turning 30, I realized how much of a people pleaser I’d been. I wanted everyone in my presence to be happy, and often felt stressed or anxious if I sensed that they weren’t. Now I understand that we are in charge of our own happiness…only our own. If I can’t be my unapologetic self around the people I love and respect, then why should they love and respect me? It takes time to overturn bad habits and characteristics, but if you’re feeling the desire to be more true to yourself, you’re probably 30.
And yes, the irony is not lost on me that while I’m still dealing with turning 30….I’m already almost 31. Where on earth did the year go?
I’d LOVE to hear what other realizations/life-changing moments/epiphanies you had at or near 30. Please share with me in a comment below!