Turning 30 Sucked - Gratitude Journal

posted on: August 25, 2017

Maybe for you it's by the age of 40 or 50... for me it was by the age of 30.
A lovely and very accomplished younger cousin of mine was confessing how much turning 30 sucked for her, and I totally agreed.  It sucked for me too.  I had so many expectations about how my life was supposed to turn out by that time, and so many regrets about why it hadn't turned out that way...

I was supposed to finish at least one of the two Bachelor Degrees I'd started...
- Because 9 years of college education means nothing if you don't have a degree to show
(but I learned I could still earn more than my colleagues who had advanced degrees)
- Because other people considered photography a nice hobby, not a bill-paying profession
(but I made a full time living off of photography in spite of other people who didn't)
- Because you're not a smart person if you don't finish college
(Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Oprah Winfrey, Brad Pitt- so many dumb multimillionaires)

I was supposed to own a house that would be a sensible investment... 
- Because houses only and always go up in value no matter where you live
(but thank goodness we could even sell our house and move before the market tanked)
- Because once you get married you settle down and stay in the same place
(unless the market shifts and suddenly jobs aren't available in your town anymore)
- Because I'd have it paid off by the time I retired
(unless you retire early because market investments can earn better than houses)

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I was supposed to have kids by the age of 29...
- Because doctors scared me by saying I may never be able to have a child after that
(but my grandmother had kids after 40 years old and that was two generations ago)
- Because college for kids is expensive and I'd need to pay for it while I was working
(but kids can get scholarships, or they can work for universities and get their tuition for free)
- Because I wanted kids to be living on their own before I would turn 65yrs old
(but I could always go live on a cruise ship and let them fend for themselves the hard way)

I was supposed to have retirement savings and financial predictability... 
- Because compound interest would save me in the long run
(unless the market pulls all of your investments out from under you)
- Because I'd save all of my worldly travels for my later years
(you mean the ones where climbing a mountain becomes a health risk?)
- Because a steady job is more predictable than self-employment
(unless someone decides to fire you or eliminate your department)

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The period between our late 20s & early 30s is considered the "Saturn Returns" period.  It's the time when a misaligned life feels like sloughing through the mud.  It's a time when we see where our ego has taken us so far.  It's a time when we take stock in everything we've been working toward that makes us feel successful or accomplished and decide if that version of success is really the one we want.  It's a time when we reconsider what it is that really makes us happy, and if we actually have any of that in our lives.  However, we can experience these same feelings during every major milestone birthday or life event.

All those things I thought I was supposed to do by the time I was 30... they were all illusions and imaginary finish lines placed in my mind by social suggestions which led to my assumptions about what it meant to be a successful healthy adult.  Having all of those "sensible" expectations in my head made me feel bad about what I hadn't accomplished, rather than pretty freaking awesome about what I had accomplished.

I may not have had retirement savings, but it's because I already started traveling the world while I was young and healthy enough to really enjoy those adventures like cave tubing, cliff jumping, and rock climbing.  I may not have had kids, but that also meant I could enjoy life as an adult for a while without lacking serious sleep or worrying about the wellbeing of tiny humans.  I may not have had a house investment, but I also didn't have property taxes on a house I couldn't sell or maintenance on a home that lost its value.  I may not have had either one of the two degrees I started, but I had started my own business instead and gave myself more freedom than either of the two degrees would have given me.

Once I got over all of the things I "didn't" accomplish by the time I was 30, and looked at all the freedoms and accomplishments I'd chosen instead, I started to feel just a little bit better.  I still had some changes I wanted to make and goals I needed to shift in order to have more of what was making me really happy in life, but at least I had gained the wisdom that everything doesn't need to work out in a certain way by a certain time in order to live a good life- and sometimes, what we get instead, is actually way more awesome than what we thought we should have had.

I'm grateful that I got to have these realizations in my 30s because it made the years afterward way more awesome and freeing than life felt in my 20s.  Some people don't come to these realizations until the age of 55 or 67 and have a lot more remorse or resolve to work through around all of it.  It really doesn't matter where we are in life.  What matters is recognizing all of the choices we've made that have brought us joy and happiness along the way, and finding ways to do more of that in the future.

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