Hello everybody, welcome to Episode 17 of Optimal Living Advice, the podcast where we take all of your life questions and answer them on the show.
I’m your host, certified life coach Greg Audino and today we’re gonna talk about aging a little bit — particularly what it looks like to enter those dreaded 30s and all the expectations that come with it.
If you’re older than 30 you know how they felt, if you’re younger than 30, you know what they’re feeling. Unless you’re a child, I suppose — which would be okay, as we keep foul language to a minimum here on Optimal Living Advice. Anyway, enough rambling! Let’s sit back and take a look at this episode’s question.
QUESTION: “29 years and 7 months. Somehow I am anxious about turning 30. It doesn't help that my family is asking me “where's the house?” and “when's the baby?” and other related life milestones. I keep looking back instead of looking forward. Any non-cliche advice for the next decade?”
What You're Associating with the Next Decade
Somehow you’re anxious? Sounds to me like you have every right to be anxious if this talk of babies and houses are the only things you’re associating the next decade with. I’m gonna get to that in a bit, though. Babies and houses are common themes and/or instructions or roadmaps or whatever you want to call them when entering your thirties. Let’s go over some of the other common, cliche things you might hear about — just for laughs.
So babies, house. These aren’t bad things. They’re just weighted things.
You're also probably hearing a lot about financial saving and starting that now.
You’re probably hearing about the gradual decline of your health and why you should start taking care of yourself now.
You’re probably hearing about making the right relationships and avoiding people that aren’t good for you.
Or if you’re not hearing about that one, you probably just figure it out yourself with age. These are all common things at this point in life, and none of them are bad. All of the things I just listed ARE cliched, but also useful. The two can coexist. These are all constructive pieces of information to pay attention to.
What Can I Expect in My 30s?
Then there’s the grittier stuff to prepare for that people probably aren’t talking to you about too much. There’s the looming death of your parents. There’s the the dip in fertility. There’s the friends that will be getting divorces, having affairs or miscarrying. These are the quote unquote “real life” things that happen in our 30s that are sort of in the back of our minds but not really talked about as openly as the constructive things, even though they should be.
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Here’s the kicker. The reason you hear about those things — mostly the constructive, and hopefully the gritty — is because they don’t change. Everything that’s been listed thus far has been and always will be around and are important to be mindful of in our 30s. So when your family tells you these things, they tell them to you because it’s what they know from their generation, it worked for them, they love you and are trying to guide you. But your generation is different, and though the things I’ve alluded to aren’t going to change, there are things about your generation that ARE different, that ARE changing and are equally important to be aware of when entering your 30s.
People entering their 30s now have their own intricacies. There are later marriages, fewer babies, fewer houses, more independence, more self-expression, more work flexibility, more money to be had but a hell of a lot more money to lose.
You and your generation are better prepared for your upcoming 30s than any of the generations before you, because you have the best grasp of what life is like right now. And the funny thing is, even with that being said, you still don’t feel like you have a clue what you’re doing.
The Only Constant in Life…
Well, guess what? Not knowing what you’re doing, feeling anxious, learning as you go, all of that is yet another constant in life, a constant that ALSO has not changed and should be talked about more. These things are true because you’re always changing.
Change doesn’t stop just because you hit 30, and that’s what people fail to realize and why it can be such a difficult time. Because 30 is mostly associated with hugely committed, generally unchanging things like babies, marriages and houses it’s easy to forget that you will still be growing and changing in other ways.
We always forget it, but the parts of us that change go hand in hand with the commitments we make. Focusing on these two parts of ourselves equally, as we should be, makes the aging process easier.
Aging and Maturity
Think about when you were a kid. Every year, the grade ahead seemed so difficult, something you didn’t feel like you’d be able to do. It seemed so hard. But once you got into them, you learned as you went, got by, and another year would pass. That process has continued.
In middle school, you thought high school would be a pain. You got to high school, thought middle school was the good ole days, feared for college. In college you think high school is the good ole days, fear for life after college. Then you graduate, you figure it out, and so on. This pattern hasn’t changed and it’s not going to. You’re only going to be 30. Think about how young that is! 30 out of what? Probably 80 or so? All the stuff you’ve learned, been through, experienced, and still another 10 years before it’s half over? Nonsense!
It’s okay to look back. It’s common to look back on the good ole days, things we felt we understood. It’s cathartic when uncertainty or what we perceive as pressure lies ahead. Make that looking back about learning lessons and accepting the things you could’ve done differently.
The feelings you’re having right now are perfectly normal, and the older you get, the more you’ll realize how normal they actually are on a long-term basis. The more comfortable you get with that, the easier it will become to accept things as they are, need less, and so on. That’s what successful aging and maturity are really based on — detaching from the exterior and identifying your own experiences separately from that which is on the outside.
All the exterior milestones, they happen for some people, not all. They happen at different times. There right for some and wrong for others. There are plenty of people older than you that don’t have houses or children. Everyone’s story is unique. And as you enter your 30s, or at any age really, you have the opportunity to call the shots on just what unique story you life is going to have.
Decide What You Want in Your Life
Use this podcast as an opportunity to do just that. Really decide what you want in your life based on who you are and the time you’re living in. Maybe that’s cliched, maybe it’s not. But making the changes you need to make for yourself and your own growth is not something that’s going to change whether you’re 30, 40, 70, 80 — I’ll tell you that for free.
Before we go, I do want to leave you with one final thought. I’m gonna go back a little bit, God knows I’m all over the place in this episode as it is.
This idea of looking back: A lot of the times when we do that, especially when blended with uncertainty for the future, it’s easy to feel as though we are not our own age. For example, you might feel as though you’re still 20 rather than 29. At the same time, however, it might be easy to look at actual 20 year olds and think to yourself, “Look at these idiots.” So if this is you, pick the age that you feel you’re at, and consider the lessons you might want to bestow upon a person who is actually that age.
This might feel a little bit like what your family is doing to you asking about the house and the kids and all that. But try to model your life after what you’d tell these kids. Step outside yourself and look at the priorities you know won’t be priorities in the future. Shake some sense into these kids. This is a way of sort of reharvesting (if that’s a word) the values that you’ve come to know and want to live by.
It’s a way of looking at how your current lifestyle might be mismatched with the lifestyle you’d like to be living. It’s a way of becoming more purposeful in your life; providing yourself with a more stable and confident base in the midst of life’s changes, because changes are coming. They always will be.
What’s up to you is to realize that, regardless of your age, both your interior and exterior lives will change. The best chance you have at navigating these changes is to accept them when they come, and in the meantime, be a version of yourself that’s easy to accept.
Was that off the rails or what? I hope that one was useful, guys.
If I’m being honest I felt like I was just sorta spitting out words at the end there. It made sense to me, and hopefully it made sense to all of you. The bottom line I suppose, is that all things are in transition forever and always. So turning 30 isn’t as much about learning how to be in your 30s as it is just learning to be forever in transition, even WITH things that are in your life for many, many years. Stopping there, though. No more tangents.
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We’d be happy to hear from you and happy to help you, so keep 'em coming. That does it for this one, my friends. Looking forward to talking to you in the next one.