When I sit and think about the life I imagined I would have at almost 30, I can honestly say that I never pictured my current situation. At almost 30, I do not own my own home or apartment; I still live with my parents. My career has taken unexpected turns, and I am no longer sure where it will lead me. I am single and not even trying to date. I haven’t accomplished a majority of the things I always imagined myself doing by this age, and I am doing my best to learn how to be okay with that fact. Many days I wake up and I feel like I am a failure. As the calendar creeps closer and closer to my 30th birthday, I find myself wondering more and more if I will ever reach the milestones I have always dreamt of.
When you are younger, 30 seems like this giant, ominous milestone just waiting for you on the other side of your “youth.” So many of us have been taught that there is this checklist waiting for us on our 30th birthday that will determine whether or not we have become successful adults.
We have brainwashed ourselves into thinking that we are supposed to have everything figured out by the time we are 30. We should be in love. We should be married. If we want a family, we should have started one by this age. We should be settled down. We should have high-paying and high-ranking jobs to help us pay for our incredible homes and brand-new cars. We should be physically fit and concerned about our aging appearances. We should be 29 but looking like we are 19. We should be everything we were ever told to dream of.
Why do we do this to ourselves?
There is no time limit on achieving the things you dream of. You will not turn to dust when the clock strikes midnight on your 30th birthday. There is no magical hourglass that will run out or giant metal gate that will be locked forever once you leave your twenties. The day you turn 30 is not an ending or a day to be afraid of; it is a new beginning and another chance to make your dreams come true.
Maybe you do not have the life you thought you would at this age, but maybe there is a reason for that. Maybe everything that you are meant to have just hasn’t found you yet, so why would you write yourself off as a failure when you are just about to begin?
Success finds us all differently, so you cannot compare your path to someone else’s. Social media makes it look as if everyone else in the world is thriving except for you, but I promise you this is not the case. You cannot base the way you feel about your own life off of the stylized snapshots you are shown from everyone else’s lives. No one takes pictures of the bad days because we don’t want anyone to know we are having them. We don’t make celebratory posts when we fail or fall out of love; we do not share our losses the same way we do our successes, so it is only natural to assume that everyone else is doing better than you. You have to stop letting yourself believe this.
Never let a glimpse into someone else’s life ruin your own.
You may not have the career you thought you would at this age, but that doesn’t mean you’ll never have it. What if this is the year you finally land your dream job? Will it really matter that it happened at age 30 vs. age 25, or will you just be happy that you are finally where you wanted to be?
You may not have the relationship you wanted to have by the time you were 30, but dating doesn’t have to end in your twenties. You are not too old to find someone. You are not too old to fall in love. Sometimes finding your soulmate takes longer than you expected, but ultimately, once you find them, I think you will be so happy that you waited until you finally found the one.
You may not be doing any of the things you pictured yourself doing at age 30, and I want you to know that’s okay. You are not a failure. You are not unlovable. You still have so much time left to live the life you have always wanted.
This is what almost 30 looks like, and I promise you it’s going to be okay.