20% of my 30s are over. Wow. That went by fast. And while time will only keep “passing faster,” it’s nice to feel those 20% truly being a part of something larger. Whether that something ends up being done by the time my 40s arrive, I have no idea. What I do know is that, unlike in my early 20s, I have a clear sense of direction.
Back then, I hadn’t even started writing. All I had was a list of stupid goals and no idea how to achieve any of them. Now, my goals are much more reasonable and arguably less selfish, and while I can see many ways to reach them, there are only a handful I’m willing to take. This kind of simplicity is liberating, soothing, and worth its non-existent weight in gold — and that’s why it takes the better part of a decade to find.
I used to think that your 20s are your defining decade, but while it’s true that experimentation builds self-awareness and that the skills I built then have become a solid foundation for my future, I can now see that my 30s are the time in which I’ll truly “arrive.”
“What am I doing? Where am I going? Where do I even want to go, and how can I get there?” Those are questions for your 20s. In your 30s, chances are, you’ll know the answers — and even if they’re the wrong answers, you’ll confidently pursue them until you realize another change of course is in order. “Hello! Here I am! This is who I am, and this is where I’m trying to go. Here’s how I’ll get there, and you can either help me or get out of the way.” It’s nice to gain that confidence and proudly stand for something, even if — and by now, you’ll know with certainty — nothing in life is ever perfect.
I still remember plotting my 30s and realizing how short a decade feels now that there’s so much I want to do. I finally joined the writer’s endgame — publishing books — and I’m two for two thus far. Even planning my goals for Four Minute Books — making more money, sure, but also helping a whole lot of people read more and learn faster — I catch myself thinking: “If I could do this by the time I’m 35, I’d be pretty happy.”
None of this is to say that you can’t hit hard in your 40s or completely reinvent yourself in your 50s. Life’s not a straight line, and we are water, not trees. If you’ve done all the personality tests and sampled a few careers you didn’t like all that much in your 20s, however, there’s a good chance your 30s are for arriving.
Don’t be scared that you no longer want to travel or go out on every weekend. Don’t be ashamed to want to settle down, get married, or have kids. Most of all, don’t be afraid to fight for what you know you want your waking (and working) hours to look like. It’s fun to be a rainbow, but each individual color also has its meaning — and whether yours is the red of love, the blue of trust, or the green of hope, they’re all purposes worth championing.