When you’re a kid anyone over the age of 18 seems old, when you’re 18 anyone over the age of 30 seems old and when you are approaching 30, like I am later in the year, you start to ponder on what it means to be old.
Having watched sisters, friends and my husband go through it I never thought I would freak out at the prospect of turning 30, after all it is just a number, I still feel fun and silly, am still learning a lot about the world around me and still make the odd bad decision. There does however seem to be a pressure to “grow up” which many of my friends have talked about. It makes me wonder therefore why so many people (myself included) suddenly see this transition from twenty-something (thanks F.R.I.E.N.D.S for coining that phrase!) to thirty-something as a wake up call in their life…to start putting down roots and creating stability all around them, to live for the longer term and not just for today and to be aware of the consequences of their actions on others; (anyone else notice that you check what time the council considers it acceptable to hoover the house on a Sunday or turn your music down after 9pm?).
You can search the internet very easily and find any number of random suggestions but it strikes me that the basics which come up time and time again as “should have’s” and “should do’s” before 30 are;
- get married (or be in a monogamous long-term relationship who you live with)
- decide if you want a family and if so start planning for one
- get a pension plan
- clear any debts
- buy a house
- pick a career path and aim for a promotion within a year
- have learned to drive
- be self-sufficient (can cook, pay bills etc)
- put down roots in one location (city, town, village etc)
I haven’t achieved all of these but I do consider myself in a period of transition at the moment whilst I work out who I want to be and what I want my life to be going forward. I’m definitely feeling the pressure to think about how I need to clear my debts (fast) so I can improve my house, pay off my mortgage and student loan, plan for kids (if I can have them) and also settle in a career path I like and want to remain in for the forseeable (this could be a long way off!).
Over the past few years various pockets of friends have bought houses, gotten married and had children and I couldn’t be happier for them but it has meant that the carefree time we were able to spend together in our younger years has had to fit into a new routine planned around work patterns, weekends set aside for family and other friends and babysitting opportunities. Perhaps the real transition which occurs around your 30th is the realisation that anything permanent in your life requires investment; houses, careers, friendships, relationships all necessitate regular input from all parties involved to keep them current, relevant and prevent them stagnating.
As I focus on my next chapter, and make plans for it to be the best years of my life, lacking in the drama and anxiety of my twenties and the naivety of my teens I can’t help but wonder why the carefree nature of youth seems to get overtaken by the demands and responsibilities of being an adult, can they not co-exist? No matter how hard we try it is inevitable that as we get older we will start questioning of lot of the aspects of our lives, what we should be doing with them and who should be sharing the journey with us…?