It’s Okay If Your 30s Are Not What You Imagined

thirty and thriving
Photo by Rodnae Productions

I enjoyed the days leading up to turning 30 more than my actual birthday.

The day I turned 30 was a new chapter.

I had a fun photoshoot to prepare for the occasion, a few pre-birthday outings with family and friends, and some travel plans in place for the year.

However, the same week that I turned 30 happened to be the same week the world was on lockdown for the first time because of the pandemic. And so, my exciting plans for that time were all canceled. I was upset. Very upset. But I understood that sometimes plans change.

I had a lot of time to think about, and process what turning 30 would be like for me and what moving through my thirties would be like.

Before I turned 30, this is what I’d imagined:

I’d be living in New York City and working for Cosmo.

Be married or at the very least engaged—with at least one kid on the way shortly after.

I’d have a few published books out.

Have a passport filled with stamps of all the fantastic places I’ve always wanted to explore and travel.

But here’s how things turned out instead:

I’m 32 and single, and I also don’t have any kids—I do, however, have a fur baby.

I didn’t finish my undergraduate degree until I was 27.

I also didn’t land any writing opportunities I wanted when I graduated from college. So I got my foot in the door where I could and spent three years working as an academic advisor before becoming an English teacher.

I became a first-time homeowner.

Enrolled in graduate school to earn a new certification to support my role as an English teacher.

Adopted a puppy.

Purchased a passport.

And in a lot of different ways, I’m still learning, growing, and figuring out who I am at this stage in my life.

Now that I’m 32, I’ve realized that it’s okay if your thirties look different than what you imagined.

I’m continually learning that we don’t all check the same boxes. We don’t have to accomplish the same things and won’t arrive at where we’re meant to be at the exact same time.

And this is perfectly fine.

What matters is arriving where you’re meant to be and living the life you’re meant to live.

I don’t think many of us ever stop learning, growing, and figuring things out entirely. We must be patient with ourselves and choose not to compare our lives to others. We should show ourselves tremendous amounts of love, grace, respect, and self-care.

This life is not a race or a competition. It’s a journey filled with twists, turns, resets, and restarts that will challenge and prepare us in some exciting and unexpected ways.

The moment I let go of how I thought my life was supposed to look at this time was the moment I found more peace with the process of becoming me. It’s okay to have dreams, set some specific and measurable goals for yourself, and want more for yourself. But it’s also okay if things don’t turn out the way you thought they would.

I hope you enjoy this chapter, and that you’re not too hard on yourself. I hope you’ll be excited, joyful, and decide to live with intention—when you get what you want and when you don’t.

Enjoy every special moment you are fortunate to experience. Because your thirties are a time to live and thrive.

There is no perfect time or “set age” for starting over or falling in love. There is no perfect time for settling down, choosing to have a child, completing or returning to school, or beginning a new career or endeavor.

Live your life, embrace the process, and let life surprise you.

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