Finally Finding Yourself in Your 30s: Challenges and Triumphs
When you’re a teen, you think it's the best time of your life. You know exactly who you are and what you want, and no one can tell you otherwise.
Then you hit your 20s.
You have more freedom, more money, all the energy in the world to party, and no one to answer to. Maybe you even have your own place. That's the life.
Only then, you hit your 30s..
and you realize those past versions of yourself had no idea what they were talking about. Thirty is a whole new ballgame. Maybe you’re buying your first home, starting a family, or washing off past trauma. Whatever you’re doing, THIS is the life.
Something I’m coming to terms with now that I’m in my 30s, is that we are all just finally figuring ourselves out. Facebook has been a great tool for keeping in touch with old friends, and I’ve started to see a trend. We are all in the same boat right now.
I’m watching people get married, start businesses, buy their first homes. These are all things that used to happen straight out of high school, but our generation is taking the time to figure ourselves out, instead of just jumping on the nuclear family bandwagon.
Of course, all of these exciting happenings—getting married, having children, rocking our career, owning a home—are absolutely something to celebrate. But, they aren’t what defines us. Perhaps the most challenging thing I’ve learned now that I’m in my 30s is how to set boundaries. I was always the one saying yes. Yes, I can work more. Yes, I can babysit for you. Yes, I can cook, and clean, and work, and do it all.
Now, I’ve started saying no.
No, I can’t take on that extra assignment. No, I won’t be coming to the family reunion. And no, I absolutely do not want to come to your birthday party. Okay, sometimes I do.
Hitting the big 3-0 somehow awarded me the ability to let go of guilt—most of the time. It is not necessary to make myself uncomfortable, or wear myself thin, or even to do something I just don’t feel like doing, to make others happy. It's my job to make ME happy.
While I was busy setting these new boundaries, I started to give myself the freedom to be okay with who I am. This didn’t come naturally though. Hitting 30 (and having my daughter the same year) meant my body was changing, and lord knows that a 30-year-old body doesn’t bounce back quite as fast as a 25-year-old body. But now I am a mom of two busy kids who want to go to the pool, and the beach, and generally just outside in the summer.
29-year-old me would hide what I didn’t like, even if it meant jeans in the blistering sun. 30-year-old me says, screw that. I’m not perfect, but nobody is, and the last thing I want my kids to see is their mom ashamed of what she looks like. The world isn’t watching me, they are. So I will dress to be comfortable, and forget what the strangers of the world might think. I will teach my children complete confidence if it kills me.
That confidence is what led me to my last real challenge, and perhaps my biggest triumph. Letting go of what people think. This can certainly apply to appearance. It can absolutely apply to my insane career change at 32-years-old. But for me, truly, it applies to my identity.
I am a bisexual woman in a straight-presenting relationship. It has always been something I’ve kept to myself, because what does matter since I married a man, right? It did matter. It was a huge part of myself that most people in my life didn’t know. A part of myself I hid, instead of becoming a part of a massive community of others like me.
Being out and proud is being confident in who I am. It’s feeling relevant. It’s feeling seen. It’s being my true self. But with that, came reintroducing myself to people in a way.
To some, it seemed like I became a whole new person in my 30s, and I did. I became the me I was hiding, the me I was ashamed of, and the me everyone else expected me to be. The jump from 29 to 30 meant learning self-care, and learning that I matter too.
Turning 30 set me free. I can’t wait to see what lessons I learn at 40.