Thirty-Dilemma: a Timeless Phase or a Modern Challenge?

I remember being in my early twenties, standing in a bar, and wondering what those 30-years olds were doing there. “Aren’t they supposed to be home, with their children?” I thought. Flash forward to the present, and here I find myself, in that same bar, looking at those newly adults, and reflecting on how I imagined life would be ten years down the road. As I look around at my friends, I realise how diverse everyone’s journey has been.

 

My best friend is getting married next week, my cousin – who feels like a sister to me – just had a baby. Another friend shared that she has just started trying to get pregnant. Meanwhile, I have friends who still party every weekend. I spoke to a woman in her mid-thirties, who has identified as a lesbian for her entire life, but is now questioning if she might also be attracted to men. And then there are those who, after long-term relationships, are exploring the idea of open relationships.


I ponder the remarkable diversity I observe within my generation. Is this variety something that has always existed, or is our generation uniquely less committed to traditional paths?

COMMITMENT IN THE DIGITAL AGE

This morning, I read an article in Vogue Netherlands featuring Holly Brood (29) and Mandy Woelkens (35), two prominent media icons. They explained how our achievements, such as our careers, homes, and relationships, often seem less perfect compared to the curated lives we see online. Rationally, we know that 90% of what we see on social media is not real. However, mentally, the digital landscape constantly prompts us to ask, “What if…?”


Another factor is the fast-paced, ever-changing world we live in, which has conditioned us to expect instant gratification. Patience and perseverance, essential qualities for maintaining long-term commitments, can seem less appealing when immediate alternatives are readily available. The fear of missing out (FOMO) also plays a significant role, driving many to keep their options open rather than commit fully to one path.

NAVIGATING THE THIRTY-DILEMMA

While reading about this topic, I came across the term “Thirty-Dilemma,” which refers to the period between our late twenties and early thirties. During this time, many people start questioning their relationships, career paths, and even their own identities. The question, “Is this what I want?” often crosses our minds. To help navigate this challenging phase, I’ve compiled some useful guidelines that I found valuable:

  • Discover Your Personal Motivations. Identify what makes you happy and energised, and write down five key points that drive you.
  • Avoid Comparing Yourself to Others. Engage in conversations with real people to understand that everyone faces their own challenges. And focus on your personal journey instead of others’ milestones.
  • Make Decisions to Avoid Unhappiness. Embrace the idea that there are no absolute right or wrong choices. And understand that delaying choices only increases uncertainty and diminishes your confidence.
  • Be Kind to Yourself. Accept that it’s okay not to have all the answers immediately. Use this period as an opportunity for self-reflection and personal growth. And focus on living for yourself, rather than meeting others’ expectations.

These tips come from PSYNED.

MY CONCLUSION

I cannot tell what the future holds, but I definitely feel like I am in the most interesting phase of my life right now. The diversity of experiences within my circle of friends highlights how each of us is forging our unique paths. Whether we are embarking on new relationships, starting families, advancing in our careers, or embracing newfound freedoms, we are all writing our own stories. Life has turned out to be much more varied and unpredictable than I ever imagined back in those early bar days. But hey, isn’t this exactly the magical beauty of life?

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