In less than a month I am leaving my 20s and entering my 30s! I am so excited and disappointed at the same time. The quarter-life crisis is an actual thing millennial women experience at this time in their life.
I have this grand idea in my head that your first ten years of adult life are for experimenting and making mistakes while you figure out what you want. By 30 you should have an idea about who you are, what you want out of life and be taking strides in that direction.
Boy was I wrong.
My life is far from perfect. I am a college graduate with huge amounts of debt and no income. I also struggle with mental illness, which makes everything 10x harder.
A lot of women, like me, are guilty of comparing our lives to other people. Also, our parents and grandparents had everything figured out in their early 20s so why didn’t we?
Maybe its because we’re (the dreaded word)… millennial women? It is no question that our generation faces unique challenges that the previous generation didn’t have to think about. 30 is the new 20!
All these issues and more become part of the quarter-life crisis shared by millennial women. Once you get past it though it’s greener pastures.
10 Things Millennial Women Should Know by 30
1. You still might not have life figured out – that is okay!
There is a lot of pressure in your 20s to figure out what career path you want to pursue, land a job in that field and settle into your life. For some people, this seems to come to them easily and for the rest of us were wandering through life seemingly without purpose – maybe working in a job we don’t really like, spending our entire 20s getting an education or couch surfing. But as the late J. R. R. Tolkien wrote in a poem:
“Not all those who wander are lost”
2. You can do whatever you want
By your 30s you have probably come to the realization that you can do whatever you want. Most of us have finished our higher education by this point, we are chalked full of skills and the world is our oyster.
As millennial women, we have many more choices than our female ancestors had. If you want to be a career woman – go for it! Married – all the power to you! The point is that by 30 you are an adult woman, in charge of your own life with the resources to do whatever you choose with it. Go forth and leave your print on the world.
3. Life is fluid
As you have probably found out by 30, progression in life is not linear. I have personally learned this and can attest to it.
I finished high school and did what most young adults do, I attended a university to obtain a bachelors degree (B.A. in History). The expected progression of the program is to have completed your credits after 4 years, however, as most students soon find out – it can be difficult to do. I ended up doing my B.A. between 2007-2014! I struggled with balancing school and life as well as dealing with mental health issues in my third year. But I finished my degree because I am not a quitter and that was the progression of things – you finish your degree.
After I graduated from university, with a B.A. in History, I found myself with very little options in terms of applying what I learned. I could write a darn good research paper analyzing indentured servants and slaves in the Chesapeake, South Carolina, and Georgia from 1620-1775 (which I did), but I had no practical workplace skills. University had failed me in that aspect. The solution – college!
The choice to complete a 3-year Advanced Ontario College Diploma in Museum Studies was part interest and part searching for the skills (a.k.a. the door) needed to enter the professional workforce. I excelled here and completed my diploma within the expected time.
By this point, I am 29 years old, with a degree in history and a diploma in museum studies. According to the ideal progression of adulthood, I should be working in my field by now. However, our perception of these milestones in life is misled. These milestones do not happen at specific ages, within certain time limits, etc…
By 30, most millennials have experienced this, much to their parent’s disappointment. Life’s progression is not linear, it’s fluid.
4. The power of networking and surrounding yourself with savvy people
By 30 you realize the importance of networking and surrounding yourself with savvy people who will enrich your life. Each connection has the potential to teach you something new, open opportunities, and/or support you in other ways.
Meeting the right person can open doors and lead to opportunities. In your early 20s, you see your friends all the time and your career goals are less important. By the time you reach 30, friendships have evolved as priorities change, you may see each other less and only the truly enriching friends stick around. New friendships evolve from work relationships, networking events and professional/personal development functions.
5. The freedom of forgetting toxic people
The same can be said about letting go of toxic people who do not enrich your life in some way. We have all had those friendships where the thought about seeing that person gives you a headache but you put the effort in out of guilt or obligation. Maybe they demand too much of your attention, the support is one-sided, they try and change you, or are overly critical.
If your friendship with this person is not adding some form of value to your life than you need to forget about them and move on. It is easier to spot these relationships and act on it by 30.
6. Nobody has the right to tell you what resides in your own heart
You are the driver of your life. By 30, you have a stronger sense of independence as you have a better understanding of yourself. You are aware of what your heart desires and it is best to ignore the griping of societal or familial pressures because you are not living your life for them.
I am a huge believer in following your gut and instincts. In most instances, your instincts will lead you in the right direction. Your instincts know what will make you happy in life. So go for it and don’t let the naysayers bring you down!
RELATED: The Best Version Of Yourself
7. Sometimes you don’t succeed at what you originally set out to accomplish
Failure is a part of learning. We leave high school with an image in our minds about what our life will look like from then on. We visualize milestones and idealize how easy it will be to achieve those huge moments in life. However, sometimes things don’t pan out that way.
I attended college so that I could gain meaningful employment in one of the many museums in Ottawa. It has not been that easy. My focus has changed from trying to convince people to hire me to create my own employment through my blog and art. I was not successful in what I originally set out to accomplish but I have been guided in another promising direction that works for me.
If you don’t succeed at first, try looking at it a different way and it may show you the answers!
8. A different kind of success will find you
As I am turning 30 in less than a month, one thing I am coming to terms with is the fact that I spent 2007-2017 (10 years!) in higher education and I don’t have much to show for it. At 30, it is easy to look at what your expectations were for yourself and see yourself as a failure if you did not meet them. However, success can come in many forms. For me, it is finding a new passion and purpose in blogging and art, with the potential of replacing a full-time income, while dealing with mental health issues. To do that is a success in life and I’m very proud of myself. Life is tough, find every little success and make it a celebration.
9. You are accountable for your situation
As expressed in this post, you are in charge of your life, which means by 30 you are also accountable for how you’re living it. For some success seems to come easily and others it is more difficult. I find this especially true if you are introverted as I am. Networking, getting out there and making yourself known, is not a skill introverted people have easily. Instead, we prefer to work behind the scenes, quietly and in our own worlds (check out Susan Cain’s book “Quiet” to understand more about this personality type). Couple that with mental health issues and its a disaster. I’m not going to lie and say I did everything I could to get a job in my field, because I have not, I am not a social butterfly and could have taken more social opportunities to meet other professionals. But I prefer to stay home and read a good book and work on my hobbies. I am totally accountable for the way my life is right now – but I am okay with that.
I recently listened to a panel of successful women, which was shown live on Facebook on International Woman’s Day. One of the speakers was talking about the struggles of introverted women to be heard and succeed. She mentioned many of us introverted women have found huge success behind our laptops making money from blogging. This inspired me so much. I am going for it and taking accountability for what happens next – good or bad.
10. You are doing okay
Lastly, if you are 30 and struggling with your milestones, pressure from society, friends and family to be “productive”, or feel yourself that you have failed – I want to tell you that you are doing okay! Progress is not linear and we need to stop comparing our lives to the lives of others. The millennial generation has been stereotyped as lazy and entitled, however, I disagree with that. We are encouraged to get higher education to obtain a meaningful job, accrue huge amounts of student debt and then enter a workforce in which there are high competition and low wages. If you are 30 and are waiting for your moment, that is completely normal and you will eventually figure it out.
You are doing okay.
What advice do you have for 30ish millennial women that were not mentioned in this post? Let’s start a discussion! Comment below!