Remember when you thought you’d have life all figured out by the age of 30?
But now here you are, officially a 30-something and yet your life is far from sorted. Well, don’t worry, you’re not alone.
For most of us, our 30s are a time of change and uncertainty. Perhaps things haven’t worked out quite how you would have liked so far. But the good news is, there’s still plenty time to shape the life you want and you’re sure to learn a lot along the way.
Here are some of the lessons you’ll learn during your 30s.
1. You’ll learn friendships change
Your friendships will change a lot during your 30s. As people pair up, have kids, move house or change jobs, your friendships inevitably alter.
You may discover friends you have known for years don’t make the effort to keep in touch anymore. Or perhaps you no longer have anything in common with friends you’ve had since childhood.
It’s difficult to accept but there may be people who simply aren’t meant to be in your friendship circle anymore. But new friendships will take their place and the good news is, the friends you have at the end of your 30s will probably be friends for life.
2. You’ll learn to make big decisions
When you enter your 30s, you realize those big decisions you’ve been putting off can’t wait forever.
During my 30s I moved house twice, set up a business and had a baby. All demanded huge decisions that I’d been able to avoid during my 20s.
Decisions about your career, family, finances and relationships – you’ll face them all during your 30s. And no matter how old you get, making decisions is tough but with every big decision, your life changes; usually for the better.
3. You’ll learn about heartache
Divorce, fertility issues, bereavement, these are all things many people in their 30s have to face, often for the first time. The thing is, the journey through life isn’t meant to be straightforward and you can only really appreciate the highs, when you’ve also experienced the lows.
As Winston Churchill said: “If you’re going through hell, keep going”.
4. You’ll learn what’s really important
As you get older, your priorities change. The things that were important to you in your 20s such as making money or owning the latest gadgets will now seem less important.
Your 30s is a time to redefine your priorities; whether that’s traveling more, achieving a better work/life balance, or starting a family.
5. You’ll learn about compromise
Life is full of compromises and during your 30s you may find you have to compromise on big things such as taking a pay cut to get the job you really want, or moving city to be with the person you love.
Of course, it’s equally important to know when not to compromise. If you want kids but your partner doesn’t, it’s probably impossible to find a compromise. Instead, you may have to make the difficult decision to walk away from the relationship to get the life you really want.
6. You’ll learn to look after your body
Alcohol, sugar, late nights; they all take their toll. In your 20s you can enjoy your vices without inflicting too much long-term damage. But in your 30s, all those bad choices suddenly have a huge impact.
When you look in the mirror and see wrinkles, grey hairs and saggy skin for the first time, it’s a shock. And while you can’t reverse the ageing process (at least not without lots of cash and a great cosmetic surgeon), you can slow down the effects of ageing by making smart choices.
Now is the time to nurture your body to keep you healthy throughout your 30s and beyond.
7. You’ll learn to invest in the future
“Live for today” is the mantra of most 20-somethings. And this is perfect when you’ve got plenty time ahead to iron out your mistakes. But as you enter your 30s, you’ll realize although enjoying the moment is still important, you also need to plan for the future.
By investing in your finances, your health and your relationships you’ll form good habits that will make your future healthier and happier.
8. You’ll learn life is short
In your 20s you had the luxury of knowing that your whole life was still ahead of you. Meanwhile in your 30s, the sensation that time is hurtling along just keeps getting stronger.
You’ll treasure every second more and only go for things you really like or really needed.
9. You’ll learn about regret
Did you want to be a millionaire by the time you were 30? Travel the world? Win an Oscar? Goals you had in your 20s may no longer seem achievable and although it’s hard to let go of your dreams, with the wisdom you’ve gained, you can create new ones.
10. You’ll learn about children
Whether you already have kids, want kids, or definitely don’t want kids; there’s no escaping the fact that during your 30s everyone seems to be talking about children.
When you have absolutely no interest in kids, all the conversations about diapers and nurseries can become tiresome. But seeing your friends settle down and have kids can clarify how you feel about starting your own family.
You may find your thoughts about children change when you hit your 30s. Plenty of people (including me) change from thinking “definitely not”, to “definitely maybe” as they realize it’s a decision that can’t be put off forever.
11. You’ll learn to develop your own style
Knowing how to dress in your 30s isn’t easy. You’re too mature to wear teenage fashions but not ready to dress like your parents. Take the opportunity to develop your own style. It’s refreshing not to have to be a slave to fashion anymore.
12. You’ll learn to socialize differently
If your 20s were all about all-night parties and being seen in the hippest clubs; you may learn your tastes change in your 30s. Personally, I’d rather go for coffee than cocktails and much prefer watching a film with friends to hitting the town.
Being in your 30s gives you the freedom to do the things you really want to do, not what you think you should be doing.
13. You’ll learn not to sweat the small stuff
Remember when you were worried about everything? What to wear, how to cut your hair, whether your colleagues thought you were a dork for staying in on Saturday night? Well, great news; in your 30s you’ll learn not to care about the little things.
It’s painful to realize how much time you wasted overthinking things but the worries that caused you sleepless nights in your 20s simply won’t matter anymore. And when you learn not to sweat the small stuff, you’ll have more energy to focus on more important things.
14. You’ll learn to manage your money
If you haven’t already got your finances in check, you’ll learn to during your 30s. No doubt you’ll make some mistakes along the way but you’ll quickly become an expert.
Whether you’re investing in business, property or parenthood; now is the time to focus on money matters and financial planning.
15. You’ll learn to value your family
During our late teens and 20s many people grow apart from their parents and siblings as they fly the nest and embrace freedom. But during our 30s, many rediscover the importance of family.
Having kids of your own can bring you closer to your parents. And as your friendships change, it’s comforting to have the stability of family relationships.
16. You’ll learn to stand up for yourself
Whether it’s asking for a pay rise, or standing up to bullies at work, once you’re in your 30s, you’ll learn how to be assertive when it counts. Confidence comes with age so don’t be afraid to ask for what you want; you just might get it.
17. You’ll learn to love yourself
Your 20s can be a difficult time when you’re constantly comparing yourself to others and worrying “am I good enough?”. Well, the good news is your insecurities lessen during your 30s.
You might not have life completely figured out yet but you’ll definitely care less about what others think and learn to love yourself a whole lot more.
Sometimes you can be chastised as an introvert for being a pessimist. Whether you feel it’s a choice or if you simply could never stop being so negative, in some way you may actually like it. Let’s face it we all see that overly happy person at work, serving us food, or taking our order for something, and we think “How can they be so happy?”. So many videos and posts urge us to have this outlook on life. They say we would be much better off being positive and happy. What if we don’t want to? Some people just want to watch the world burn, and nothing will stop us from having such a nihilistic viewpoint, which we prefer. So what are some of the earmarks of liking your own unhappiness?
When the glass is always half empty
For as long as I can remember I have thought of the glass as being half empty. If a glass is presented to you that has a liquid level of exactly half of its volume, what would you say the level of it is? Is it half full, or half empty? Recently I have changed my response to a more realistic one. I just tend to say that there is only half there. But with that new response there is a resistance to change; for ages I had thought of the glass as being half empty. The question of the glass has always been one of optimism versus pessimism. Now that I am older and wiser I know that being negative is not always the best thing, yet my reluctance to even simply say that the glass may be half full is apparent. Now there’s just half a glass. Baby steps.
When you feel stuck, and put conditions on your happiness
There was a point in my life where I had begun to feel positive. I had positive thoughts and emotions, my relationship was going well, and my work life couldn’t have been better. This terrified me! I had never had these feeling before; I’ve never been a happy person, luckily it didn’t continue and my unhappiness reared it’s ugly head once more. I once again stumbled about life trying to find my way and the ultimate goal of my ideal happiness, is that really the life for me?
That’s right, I too aspired to be happy. But there’s a catch– I put so many conditions on my happiness that it became almost unattainable. I’d like to make X amount of money, live in X house, and have the partner that has X qualities. What happens when we are trying to attain these goals? We’re usually stricken with the kind of unhappiness that I’ve felt over the years. And when we do meet these goals for happiness? Well it just so happens that more goals are placed on the pile to achieve before we can become a “happy person”– that way we are always unhappy.
When your personality separates you from others and makes your unhappiness grow
Some people are more comfortable with a solitary life, they would rather stay in and not go out. An introverted person will avoid personal encounters with even the people they are most familiar with. It’s not that they don’t want talk, they just won’t have the sort of open and happy conversation you’re looking for. Introverted people know the daily struggle of being seen as shy or awkward, and when they open up and talk they hear things like “Wow I really brought you out of your shell.”, or they’re told something about how well they speak. It’s wasn’t that they were never a good speaker and couldn’t speak, maybe they just didn’t value the low brow conversations they had heard before? As introverts, we really don’t like small talk.
When you feel the whole world is against you
Some of my relationships are the source of my happiest times. Most of my relationships, however, have been a headache, or ended in heartbreak. The difference between the two is subtle. Some relationships fall together like they were meant to be. They don’t always have to be romantic ones, in fact most of my happiest relationships are with friends of the same sex. My unhappiness in relationships has been the result of failed romantic endeavors. If you’re currently single then all of your romantic endeavors up until this point have failed. With romance, it’s a mutual thing, and you have to look at the cause of the failure; you can’t say that it was entirely their fault. Maybe you will be destined for unhappiness, and if you’re looking for love on Tinder or other dating apps this is likely. The only form of comfort we can hope for is to share our cynical perspective and unhappiness with someone equally as unhappy as we are.
Conclusion: Live for today
I won’t tell you some spiritual nonsense about learning to love yourself. This plight is certainly not due to the fact that one cannot love the inner self that you retreat to when society seems cruel and uncaring. When all your relationships have failed you and even your family and close friends have grown and become distant you will need to find something to hold on to. You can read a book or other helpful articles on Lifehack.org on the same topics.
If you’ve found that the world inside yourself has become grey and dull from the unhappiness you experience find another world to explore. Life can be mundane at best, and wherever you travel humanity has a way of being indistinct in certain cruel or pernicious ways.
But find the love, find it whenever you can and hold on to it. It has a nasty habit of slipping through your fingers sometimes but if you feel you have lost it, just remember there is a whole world out there where you can look for it. It may be in the tiniest of books, or URLs. It could be in the smallest laugh of a child or whimper of a baby animal, and sometimes when you’re looking for too long, it might be right inside yourself that you find the cure for your unhappiness. The help you can give to others, even a stranger, can open up the most trod upon of hearts and emotions. This too, I’m sure you will hate, for it is a thankless act.
Unusual levels of stress can negatively impact your ability to accomplish personal goals and maintain good health. Challenges such as resolving a family crisis or losing weight become more difficult when stressors mount. Consider the following tips to help you reduce your stress.
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