It was a gloomy afternoon and you found yourself aimlessly scrolling through Instagram. As you swiped up, you stumbled upon photos of your high school classmate which caught your eye. He was at the airport, again beaming with enthusiasm ready to embark on another exciting travel abroad
And then there’s another college friend you saw on Facebook, who didn’t even excel back in college, yet he has a steady corporate job at a successful financial firm.
And here you are in your thirties, still living with your parents and hopping from one company to another. You start to question your existence and begin to feel the lack of purpose and direction in life. Oftentimes, you’re in your room with your crippling anxiety. Probably, you’ve asked yourself gazillion times, ‘What I have been doing with my life all these years?” Until these irrational fears and confusions are taking over your thoughts to an unhealthy degree and giving that vibe of feeling lost in your 30’s.
Before you start catastrophizing and convincing yourself that your entire life is falling apart just because you’re not where you thought you were supposed to be, pause and take a deep breath. Don’t let these disruptive thoughts and anxiety break you apart. And I intend not to invalidate your feelings in today’s post.
Have you ever heard the saying that goes, “Sometimes, the best way to find yourself is to get lost?”
That feeling of being small in this vastness makes us question our existence sometimes. Oftentimes, we think we’re so behind in life that others have reached certain milestones in their lives before their 30s. You try to navigate the complexities of this life without understanding what values are important to you. What’s your definition of success? Did you ever realize that external achievements are not the only definition of success?
And when you start comparing yourselves to these people on social media, just remember that behind each social media post lie a carefully curated version of reality. Sometimes, these people are only showcasing and highlighting the moment they wish to share with the universe. Although they may be accomplishing significant achievements in their lives, I’m 100% sure they still yearn for something they cannot have.
On the other hand, there are successful people and yet not satisfied. They find themselves asking, “Is this all there is?” and feel lost too.
What are the antidotes to this feeling of being lost in your thirties?
- Search for meaning and identity – Give yourself enough time to understand yourself. Because it can be truly transformative when we start embracing this stage as an opportunity for self-discovery and growth.
- Focus on personal growth – Instead of minding other people’s lives, focus on your personal goals and achievements no matter how small they are. As they say, “The journey may be long, but every step forward counts.”
- Be patient and kind to yourself – As you travel this journey of the unknown, you’ll experience heightened feelings of frustration, anger, and loneliness.
- Don’t be overwhelmed by the ticking of the clock – your timeline is different than others.
- Work towards understanding ourselves more. Talk to your friends, and parents, seek medical advice if you need it, seek counseling, and read books on topics about self-discovery.
- Feed your body with good nutrition – Couldn’t agree more! Read these articles > here and this one
Just go ahead and take all the time you need to figure out your path. Explore new possibilities and discover your passion by trying things out. I recently discovered my passion for sharing my thoughts and opinions through podcasts. And even if I don’t upload some of the episodes (yet) that I recorded, the process of brainstorming ideas and topics to talk about in my podcast brings a different level of fulfillment and excitement.
Amidst battling major depressive disorder, redirecting my attention and focus has been a great help to me in terms of unlocking productivity and progress.
Feeling lost in your 30’s can also be an opportunity to reflect on your values and reassess your life goals. Work on things you’ve been wanting to prioritize in your life but haven’t had the chance to in a while. For example, go on an Asian cruise or travel solo, finish that course you’ve been aiming to complete, acquire certifications to either upgrade your skill set or change your career path, make some relationship adjustments or cut off toxic people in your life, or live solo and move to a different city.
Feeling lost in your 30’s is okay. We all go through this phase in our lives. We feel this even in our 20’s, 40’s or 50’s. It’s okay to embrace detours in our lives because life isn’t always a linear path. It’s okay to let go of the life we once yearned for when we were younger because it no longer resonates with our values. And so we let it go, no matter how perfect that life may seem.
What’s not okay is not having awareness within ourselves that we are going through this tough stage in our lives. I think irrespective of life’s perplexities, it remains a valuable event in our lives. Minor set back often lead to life’s greater purpose.
And it’s not okay that you just completely shut down and do not acknowledge your emotions and the harsh realities.
It’s not okay not to pay attention to your thoughts, actions, and feelings.
It’s not okay to give in to these societal pressures to have everything figured out in your 30s. It is such liberating when you finally learn to let go of these expectations and “social media standards”.
I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul. – Invictus, William Ernest Henley
If you look at what you’ve achieved and accomplished in life, you’ll always have more. If you’re okay with the fact that you do not have a 10-year plan, you are going to be fine. Life is a series of choices and decisions. Take a leap of faith and dare to take risks. Remember to dance with the unpredictable rhythm in life. Before you know it, you’re living your best life. May it be in your 30’s, 20’s 40’s, ora 50’s.
And as Isaiah 60:22 says,
At the right time, I, the LORD, will make it happen