Aren’t You Supposed to Have It All Figured Out by 30?
I have been thinking a lot lately on what it is that I was meant to do with this life. I mean a lot! It’s so easy to get caught up in what everyone else is doing or the accomplishments that they have already achieved. Sometimes it makes me lose focus on what it is that I want to accomplish. And by sometimes I mean often.
Honestly, I thought I’d have a better idea by now of what I was meant to do with my time here on earth. My 13 year old self, who thought 30 might as well have been 60, thought that I would have a flourishing career by now. When I was young, I wanted to be the first female president. Then I wanted to be a lawyer because I wanted to make lots of money. (My young brain thought that being a lawyer automatically meant wealthy.)
When 9/11 happened, I was 13, I made the decision to join the military. For almost four years I was going to join the Navy. I had been talking to the same Navy recruiter during my entire high school career. Then, during my senior year, I took a right turn and joined the Marine Corps. At that point I decided that I would spend 20 years in the Marine Corps and then retire at 37. I did my four years honorably and enjoyed most of it. I felt like I was actually making a difference in the world. But the Marine Corps wasn’t for me long term.
After the Marine Corps I went to college. Multiple times. Then I floundered. I floundered a lot in my early 20s. At 25, I finally settled down and purchased a business. At last I thought I had found my calling. I would run this clothing store because I love fashion and I love it when other people feel good in what they’re wearing. That lasted less than 3 years. Working 7 days a week for almost three years straight on a business that was sucking my soul dry completely burnt me out. It seemed like I couldn’t do anything right, and I was working myself to the bone for what reason? That wasn’t for me either.
So there I was again, now at the age of 28, completely lost. Now I had a massive business loan to payoff and no real passion for my career. Here’s the thing about me that I’ve known about myself since I started working, my career is important. Where some women want to have a family or some women want to help third world countries, I wanted to have a lucrative career. A career that I was proud of and challenged me every day. But also brought me joy. I’ve always wanted to do something that makes a difference.
I remember distinctly how a lot of my older friends would tell me that their 30s was the best decade of their lives. So when I was nearing 30, I was excited. I didn’t dread 30. I no longer thought that 30 meant you had one foot in the grave either! I welcomed 30 with open arms. And here I am, half way through my first year and so far it’s alright. I’m much more sure of myself and don’t seek approval from others anymore. But I still don’t have that lucrative career that I’ve always desired. The one that will change so many lives for the better.
After reflecting on all of this I decided that this is the beauty of your 30s, I think. You’re resilient and you still have plenty of time to figure it out. There’s still a whole lot of life left. Life hasn’t completely jaded you. You’re still a little naive but in a good way. I still have no idea what my career path is going to look like. But giving up is never an option. Just because I don’t have all of the answers does not mean that I will fail. Just because I don’t know how to do what it is that I want to do doesn’t mean that I can’t learn.
You’re never too old or too young. These are just excuses that you tell yourself, or that others tell you out of their own fears. I’ve told them to myself before. Not knowing how is not an excuse to not do. As long as you still have a willingness to learn, just keep going even when the path looks dark ahead.
Above all else, remember that it’s ok to change. Look how many times I’ve changed my career and I’m only 30. Change your mind, change your major, change your career, etc. Never stay in one thing because you think that it is what you should be doing. The only thing that you should be doing is exactly what it is that you want to be doing. Trying different things is the only way you’ll know what it is that you do like. Finally, remember that nothing in life is a failure, it’s only a lesson. Learn from it and move on.