It’s interesting when you enter into a new decade of your life how much differently you start to see things. I turned 30 last September ( so I am 31 now ) and have really seen a large change not only in my life, my thoughts, and my priorities, but also in those around me. What other people don’t really warn you about though, is about all the new expectations that bombard you in your 30ies.
Between the the ages of 0-10 of your life you are a child. Minimal worries, and obligations. You play and learn and that’s how it should be. In the years from 10-20 you are a teen. You learn and take more responsibility for yourself and others. You have expectations from society, but they are still minimal. From 20-30 you are expected to grow up. Work, study and find your place in society and who you are. Once you hit 30 though, things change drastically. You are “officially” considered an adult by EVERY single age group around you. You are always referred to in the formal title ( Mrs. Ma’am, Sie, Vous, etc. ) You enter into what I consider to be the second third of your lifetime, and the pressure is on.
The pressure to have a steady job. The pressure to own a car. Or a home. The pressure to be financially stable. The pressure to to have a retirement fund. The pressure to look like you did 10 years ago. The pressure to be MARRIED! The pressure to have children. Or want to know if you want to have children. The pressure to have a perfect home/work/social life balance. The pressure of the future of your relationships, as well as your career. It is overwhelming to say the least!
Societal pressure to be or look a certain way, by a certain age, seems to be stronger than ever these days. And although so many of us are breaking the mold, I still find it hard to concentrate on not being too influenced by others, whether in my personal network, or in the large digital one that surrounds us all. I think that we are all too hard on ourselves and that we need to consider more often what we do have, and have done.
I don’t own a car, or a home, but rent an apartment and have 2 bikes. I am not married, but have been in the same relationship for over 9 years. I am a freelance photographer and my income is much less than all those of the same age around me, but it is fully MY small business. I have a roof over my head, food in my fridge, clean clothes in my closet, and an amazing network of people around me that support my work and my life. I have a college degree. I live in a foreign country and speak, read and write 2.5 languages. I have backpacked across Europe, and cycled across Canada. I have volunteered, and I have taught others many skills. I live a low waste lifestyle and have a low environmental footprint. I have been to 16 countries. I have bungee jumped and rock climbed. I have hiked thousands of kilometers. I have swam in more bodies of water than I can count. I tend to a garden that feeds me 6 months of the year and I cook 80% of my own meals. I have a healthy body because I don’t smoke, nor take any medications, and drink low amounts of alcohol. I am rarely sick. I do a lot of yoga, and stretch and meditate when things get stressful. And most importantly I am happy.
Every single one of us has different achievements, goals, and abilities. And they will never be the same as the next person. The thing is, is that there is not one solution to lowering these expectations that we and others put on ourselves. Nor easy advice on how to deal with them. I guess the best way is just to remind ourselves to be ourselves. To find deep down in our hearts, and stomachs, what we want for our life. And to continue to work hard to make that happen. Step by step. Day by Day.
To forgive ourselves when we make mistakes. To learn when it is right to say YES or when to say NO. To stand up for ourselves and for others. To listen to ours bodies and brains when they are happy, or sad, or tired, or energized. And to treat them appropriately. To stay young at heart, wild in our souls, and respect all those around us.
The world these days is a fast paced, crazy place. The least we can do is to try to enjoy it day by day. Year by year. On and offline. And have trust in what lies ahead in our future.