I recently turned 30 and also recently became unemployed. It took me three weeks to tell my mom and almost two months to tell my dad that I decided to leave my stable, full-time job to enter into the unpredictable world of freelancing. When I finally told my dad he told me first, not to keep anything from him ever again, and second, that he was so proud of me for leaving something that made me unhappy to pursue something I’m passionate about. He said “This is the prime of your life and you should be exploring what you really want to do” – he told me I should be taking risks and stepping outside of my comfort zone. Our conversation almost had me in tears; I had kept this from him for two months for fear of him being ashamed of me. Then he tells me what I’ve been trying to tell myself on a daily basis for years – it was only when he said it to me that it really, truly hit home.
If I’m being totally honest the past couple of months have been pretty tough. I’ve been struggling with where I “should” be in my life, what’s expected of me, where I “need” to be and what I actually want. Turning 30 is a trip (or at least it has been for me) and even more so when you decide to completely change your career path. Not only has my metabolism completely dropped off the face of the earth (holler if you hear me!) but I’m starting to feel this anxiety about my choices and my life trajectory – like what I’m doing is never enough, like I’m not where I was “supposed to be” by the time I hit 30.
This got me to thinking about not only societal pressures and norms, but also the expectations we set for ourselves and the subtle undertones of evolutionary biology in our everyday decisions. Our society (specifically in the states) thrives and is shaped off of the typical grow up, go to school, get a job, get married, have children, etc. Oh, and don’t forget to do all of this before you turn 30! A lot of this stems from our most instinctual adaptations with regards to procreation and survival – if you think about it, these acts (go to school, get married, have kids, etc.) are a modern, cultural representation of our most primal instincts to adapt to our environment, pro-create and thrive. Let’s be real though, that all seems like a pretty lame life trajectory – and lately, it seems a lot of people are choosing to do otherwise.
Whether it’s putting off (or opting out of) getting married or having kids, not going to college, freelancing, starting your own business or the rise of co-working spaces – it’s obvious we’ve had enough of this white picket fence, 9-to-5, climb the corporate ladder bull-sh*t. We are finally (finally) beginning to realize that whoever decided it was healthy to have a bunch of humans staring at computer screens in individual cubicles for 8 hours a day, was sorely mistaken. If you’re reading this from your cubicle (in your outdated office where no one talks to each other and you hate your life), I’m sorry. Also, f**king do something about it.
We’re not only starting to be more self-aware, we’re starting to be more aware of what everyone else in the world is doing. The way technology and social media have shifted things for us as a species is unprecedented – not to mention the fact that it happened in such a short period of time. News travels so fast and comparison is so easily accessible. We talk about ‘going against the grain’ but honestly these days I’m not even sure which way the grain is going – things are shifting so fast. That’s the beauty of it though, right? We’re living in interesting times; the pressure to be better, do better – it’s always there. It can sometimes be overwhelming but you bet your butt that, if you let it, it almost always results in good things.
Moral of the story, there is never a “right” way to do things and there’s always going to be someone doing it better. It is always the right time to pursue something that makes you happy or walk away from something that makes you miserable – time isn’t waiting for anyone and things aren’t just going to happen, you need to make them happen. Quit comparing yourself to others and thinking about what you should or shouldn’t be doing. Talk about your goals and aspirations with other people because if there’s one thing I’ve learned in the last 4 months it’s that people will support you – they want to help and they want you to succeed (whatever it is you’re trying to accomplish). Start getting into the practice of listening to your gut.
Keep doing your best – do what feels right, repeat.
Written By: Ferren