Does happiness have to end at 29?
Posted On Oct 11, 2017
As if the uncertainties of dating, the insurmountable pressures from the ticking time bomb that is your womb, and the angst of clawing your way up the corporate ladder aren’t enough to deal with, a simple, yet seemingly unattainable accomplishment is now more commonly used to measure your life’s success – finding happiness.
As a child, 30 was an age so far in the future that we couldn’t even fathom there being that many candles on our confectionery concoction of a birthday cake. We thought our untainted happiness would last forever. But when 30 happens, it hits you like a ton of sprinkles. So does happiness end at 29?
A recent study in which participants were asked if they were very happy, pretty happy, or not too happy concluded that people over 30 who claimed to be “very” happy fell from 38% in the ‘70s to 32% in 2014. What is it about turning 30 that makes the needle drop down into the red zone? Findings from the study suggest one major indicator is to blame – unrealistic expectations for goals that cannot be attained. So we’re basically setting ourselves up for unhappiness. Not you, not today, not going to happen! Learn to tackle these socially fabricated goals and find your own joy.
Probably the most anxiety-inducing “unattainable goal” for many in the 30-year slump is the idea of wedded bliss. Your 30s are a strange time to be single. You’re too old to still be considered “young, wild, and free” and it seems like the dating pool may be quickly drying up as each social media baby announcement goes viral quicker than the next. Maybe your twenties were filled with happier times alongside your college sweetheart, you popped out a kid or two, and even accepted a ring from someone you thought would be forever. But now, you find yourself 30 and single. Before the words have any time to produce a fear-filled knot in your throat, let’s really think about it. You’re past parental dependency, you’re somewhat financially stable, and casual sex is no longer taboo. Sounds like you’re in your absolute prime if you ask me. So if a walk down the aisle is in your future, let it come as it may but don’t worry about the logistics of it all, just focus on happiness. If the thrill of a passionate yet short-lived night makes you happy, then do it. If juggling incoming shirtless selfies delivered promptly to your iPhone at all hours of the night gives you a thrill, then do it. Your thirties don’t have to mean bridesmaids and boutonnieres; this could actually be a time of great personal and sexual exploration before you find “the one.” If you focus on today’s happiness and not tomorrow’s ring, memories from your 30s could easily be what gets you through the football Sundays, the carpools, and the weekends spent antiquing that are probably in your not-so-distant future.
The clang of wedding bells is no match compared to the blaring tick-tock of your biological clock. Kids – everybody wants them, but we’re all either terrified of the idea or can’t find someone to stick around long enough to procreate with. At 30, our mothers were already on child #2 if not more, all while having dinner on the table every night, and a spick and span household. In today’s society, playing the cool aunt to your siblings’ kids and having the take-out guy know your order at the mere sound of your voice is as far as many of us get by 30. And really… THAT’S OK. There’s absolutely no need to rush into having a child just because you feel like it’s what you should be doing. Women are advancing further in their careers now more than ever, traveling the world in search of adventure, and enjoying the one time in their lives where it’s ok to be selfish. The bottles, the blow out diapers, and the babybjorn will come. For now, at the young age of 30, it’s absolutely ok not to have a child yet – and definitely don’t let your mother’s yearning for a grandchild to spoil make you feel any different.
As if your personal life wasn’t enough to drive you over the proverbial edge, your career seems to always be in a tailspin as well. Your high school classmates are all doctors, lawyers, and senior level executives while you’re struggling to make your voice heard at the menial, mid-level, paper-pushing position you sit in from 9 – 5. Where did you go wrong? By 30 you were supposed to be a top-level administrator with a corner office, high-rise views, and an overly eager intern waiting at your coat tails to learn the ways of success. But you’re not. Who says life is all about work anyway? At age 75, as you slowly sway back and forth in your rocking chair, are you going to think about all the data you analyzed, or are you going to remember the great adventures you allowed yourself because you weren’t chained to a computer? Maybe the rat race isn’t for you. Who says you have to be the job? You do what you can, put your time in, and get out when you’ve had enough. By letting imaginary social pressures cloud your unique vision of professional success, you could be bypassing your own markers of accomplishment based on what truly makes you happy. Create your own standards and work to live, not vice versa.