By: Grace Gufler
Throughout life, the idea of turning 30 has always been approached with a quiet disdain and discussed in hushed undertones. Previous generations, have faced an enormous amount of societal pressure to have the perfect spouse, start a family, and have a house with a white picket face by the age of 30. That is until the Millennial generation. Millennials grew up being lectured on the importance of slowing down, living in the present and savoring independence. The rules of the game have changed, so why does turning 30 still scare the shit out of us?
The mini identity crisis and panic attack that accompanies our 30th birthday has become a bit of a social norm. Millennials are not excused from this rite of passage, although I think we all truly believed we would be. Turning 30 is no longer approached with the same archaic view that previous generations have faced. People are procreating later in life, living longer and focusing on a career before a family. The difference, in my opinion, between Millennials and earlier generations is this: we didn’t think this would happen to us.
There has been a generational shift from a dream of suburbia, to a dream of having it all. Millennials have been told that we are capable, maybe even entitled, to a life of having it all. This paradigm shift comes with many positives. For example, Millennials are taking better care of their mental health, more open to going to therapy, are passionate about traveling and striving to live a meaningful life. The consequence of this, however, is that we have forgotten to plan for the future, to reflect on who we want to be and to lay down some roots. The insidious nature of our 30th birthday, as a result, catches us off guard and can trigger a lot of anxiety.
Many persons of the Millennial generation feel guilt and embarrassment for experiencing anxiety about turning 30. We are the generation who is redefining norms, shattering societal standards and embracing individuality. To those people, I want you to know: you are not alone. It is normal, even healthy, to be experiencing anxiety about turning 30. From a logical standpoint, we are aware that turning 30 is no longer a big deal. It is not the literal age that is triggering anxiety but what 30 represent to you.
This is a unique experience for each person. Everyone has an idea of the transgression of their life and an ideal timeline for accomplishing your goals or reaching certain life milestones. Many of us imagine these goals and life events will be accomplished by the age of 30. For some reason, 30 has become this magic number where we will finally have life figured out. When that moment comes, we are disappointed and saddened to learn that this did not happen. Where did all of that time we were promised go? Perhaps you are not where you expected to be by the age of 30. Maybe you do not recognize the person you have become. You may even feel a little behind in the game of life. This does not mean that you have failed. This means that you were busy living your life and isn’t that the whole point?
Embrace your 30th birthday with acceptance, positive energy and a new focus for your life. You are not behind; you are simply at a different starting point than you predicted. My advice to you is this: slow down and go back to basics. The daily responsibilities and stressors present in life can be consuming and overwhelming. As a result, important aspects of a person’s identity are neglected. Such as: values, goals, hobbies, needs, happiness, wants and overall wellness. Take the time to reflect on these things and strive to live a life that is reflective of who you are.