No, you don't have to have life "figured out."
There's something really scary about turning 30. Society places so much emphasis on reaching your fourth decade of life, giving it more importance than it actually needs. At 30, apparently, you're supposed to have figured out all the big things, including your career and your love life. It reminds me of the movie "13 Going on 30" when teenage Jenna is sitting in the closet repeating "30 and flirty and thriving" over to herself as some sort of mantra. I don't know about your experience, but the concept of "30 and flirty and thriving" for me ended up being a total myth. That's what people are trying to tell a Twitter user who needed reassurance that life "gets better" after 30.
Katherine Morgan, known as blktinabelcher on Twitter, is a writer and bookseller who asked a question of the Twitter hive mind to set her mind at ease.
"I’m 28, so I’m almost there, but can people in their 30s and older please (gently) tell me that it’s going to get better and I don’t need to have figured out my entire life in two years?" she wrote. The tweet took off, with more than 100,000 likes and thousands of replies. While everyone phrased their responses differently, the general consensus was you don't have to have anything figured out before you turn 30.
Here are some of the best replies:
"I feel like I ain’t even start living until I was 30. You good," prolific author Jason Reynolds said.
"I'm more than twice your age, and it's getting better and I'm just now starting to figure it out. You are way ahead of schedule," said user Dean Gloster.
"The good news is you don't need to figure your life out in 2 years. The semi-bad news is never fully gets figured out. That's a myth. You'll be growing and changing your whole life, and there will be periods of confusion in there. There will also be periods of stability." — sosomanysarahs
"I'm seventy in less than a month. Every decade was better than the one before. I'm so looking forward to this next one." — sandralambert
"I’m 34. You definitely do NOT need to have it all figured out. I don’t. And I’m okay with that. And things definitely do get better, there’s no doubt about that. You’ve got this. Your 30s come with a hell of a lot more clarity." — _gregorryyy
"I turned my corner at 46. It got better not because I was older, but because I finally cut loose/healed all that was holding me back. 30 is arbitrary. You’ll get there." — author Deesha Philyaw
What is it about turning 30 that scares people so much? Research on the topic turns up millions of articles about the fear and anxiety attached to the 30th birthday. I remember the way my stomach would churn as the calendar got closer to my 30th birthday. I experienced an overwhelming sense of dread because I didn't feel I had accomplished all the things that TV, films and magazines told me I should have by then.
In an article for Forbes, writer Frances Bridges points out that "thirty may not be 'that young,' but it is definitely young enough that if you do not like your job, your partner, the city you live in, etc., you can change your life and still be the success you envisioned."That's the thing! We treat turning 30 like an ending, when should be a beginning. Now that I'm in my mid-30s, I feel like the most settled, current version of myself to date. Are there still major life changes happening? Of course, that's called being alive. There is something to be said about the emotional shifts of growing older. The more life you live, the more your perspective changes and you become more settled in who you are.