Yes, I may have had this reaction when I woke up this morning, the day after my 30th birthday, when I thought about my answer to: “How old are you?”
The truth is, however, I felt like I had already turned 30 one year ago. On my 29th birthday, and in the months that followed, I started to think about my life as a “twenty-something” and where I wanted to be at 30.
Everywhere I looked I saw the success of others, many younger than me or my age. I began to question myself; 30 seemed to be the age when you’re supposed to have it all figured out, no longer would I have the excuse of being a newbie in the business world, trying different things to figure out what I want to do for the rest of my life; my resume had better be leading somewhere.
When I turned 29 I had just started at a new job. I had left my previous job due to a relocation caused by my husband pursuing his own 30-something dream of going back to medical school after 5 years working as a physical therapist.
It quickly became apparent, to me if not anyone else, that I was grasping at opportunities to do things that I felt strongly would lead me into my future in professional adulthood. I wanted a career, a title, for my ideas and direction to carry weight. I wanted to have the security to be myself, express myself online, without fear of being judged by employers and potential employers.
For others like me, who started in the workforce right around the height of the 2008 economic crash, the corporate world has been rough. After 7 years in the working world, at 4 very different workplaces, I had learned a lot. I saw the rise of search engine optimization and social media marketing and got in on the ground floor. In each workplace I had seen opportunities to change and grow, and at each place, my new ideas were often stopped dead in their tracks.
I began to wonder, when will I get to be the one listening to and deciding on new ideas? I pursued the chance to be a COO, eager to use my leadership skills and love of corporate structuring. I knew it was reach, and, unsurprisingly, my range of valuable skills and intense work ethic continued to be seen as better placed as the workhorse, not the rider.
I looked at more and more opportunities, but every job description I read left me with the same hollow feeling of, “Is it worth another change? Another entry on my growing resume?” I hated the application process, always feeling like I was never even given a chance to prove that I am one of the most dedicated workers they will ever know.
I debated going back to school to pursue my love of theatre direction and production, or maybe study history to be a museum curator or professor? Nagging at me the whole time was the fact that I am the sole breadwinner for the next 4 years, and there are loans, rent, insurance, mortgage, car payments…to be paid, as well as the potential to move again if my husband gets a residency in another town or state.
I thought about pursuing hobbies outside work to give me meaning, but my personality is one that get’s so consumed with getting a job done and done well, so I’m not so good at the work/life balance thing. My work and my life go hand in hand.
Finally, I allowed myself to admit what I had always subconsciously known to be true: I may be better off on my own, structuring my own day, building my own name - living my life on my terms. With my husband’s full support (and joy at the potential of no longer hearing me complain about “what am I doing with my life?!” 24/7) I pursued the opportunity to start my own freelance marketing business. I got a few clients, saw that the workload was too much to stay working at the 9-5 job too, so I quit my day job to pursue entrepreneurship full time.
Just a little over 1 month after my last day, I turned 30.
While the day came with the expected feelings of mortality and loss of youth, I know that if I was still sitting at my cubicle, I would have had a bit more of an existential crisis, so I just did that a little early…I’ve always been mature for my age, and a bit impatient for success - if you couldn’t tell already.
For the past year my mantra has been: “there’s something about 30.” There’s something about 30 that makes you want to define your life, or redefine it, as the case may be. There’s something about 30 that makes you want to come into your own, take control, and feel confident about where your life is going.
For me, 30 gave me the strength to do all the things you read about that tell you not to wait to pursue your dreams, that life is too short to live someone else’s life, to live each day like it’s your last, that you’ll never know success without risk. All the things I read and used to say, “yeah ok, but that’s just not practical,” suddenly become the only practical thing to do.
So…this is 30, and these too: 30 Things Turning 30 in 2014
What does 30 mean to you?