I have a confession to make, folks. I have no idea what I’m doing.
But, as long as we’re being honest, does anyone?
I often wonder what my life would be like if I’d been born 20-30 years earlier than I was. Truthfully, I don’t think it would be that much different on the surface. If I had been 30 years old in 1986 rather than 2016, I think my hobbies, interests, viewpoints and probably even my profession would be very similar if not the same as they are in the present. But I wonder, would I be happier? Less happy? More “together?”
I can’t refer to myself as a “twentysomething” anymore because, well, I’m not in my 20s anymore. Nonetheless, I don’t feel any different today than I did a few months ago when I was still on the other side of 30. Sometimes I can’t help but wonder if that’s a bad thing, like I’m stunted in some way.
(Now is the point when I should probably assure you I’m not having some sort of quarter-life or existential crisis. I’m building toward a point. I promise.)
A few months ago, I was having a conversation with one of my oldest and closest friends about a certain issue he was having in his life at the time. (Sorry for being vague, but he’s a private person and I don’t want to divulge too much.) He told me at the time he was a bit envious of certain aspects of my life; envious that I had things figured out.
I laughed. Hard.
The notion of me having things figured out seemed hilarious to me at the time, and even today it kind of makes me chuckle. Sure, I’m mostly content with my situation. Between friends and family, I’ve managed to surround myself with wonderful people whom I would trust with my own life. I have a great career that I enjoy and, while I’m far from rich, I have a roof over my head and food in my fridge.
For all of those things, I’m endlessly thankful. Yet, even though I’m genuinely happy, there are days when I still feel like a kid trying to figure out what he wants to be when he grows up.
Thirty seems like it’s supposed to be a milestone age. During our 20s we figure out who we are, what we want to do with our lives and who we want to spend them with. Once 30 rolls around, that’s when we can settle in and expand on that life. We’re full-fledged adults, like it or not.
I think a lot of the uneasiness I and many people my age feel is heightened by the age we live in. The social constructs and ideas of what it means to be “an adult” are on display everywhere we go. I log on to Facebook and see people I grew up with, even some who are much younger, getting married, having kids, inadvertently bragging about their jobs or life in general. (Admittedly, I can be guilty of some of this myself.)
The life we create for ourselves online is often only a small slice of reality. We post photos of the happy times – the vacations and promotions and marriages and births. Most people don’t air their dirty laundry in public. You don’t see those same happy people posting about the fight they’ve had with a loved one, the promotion they didn’t get or the fact they’re scraping by to make ends meet.
My point is this: I’m well aware that I’m not stunted. In many ways I do have things figured out even if I doubt that from time to time. It’s important to take the things we see, well, everywhere, with a grain of salt. Most of the time, there’s more to the story than what is on display.
I’m glad I don’t know what I’m doing. Perhaps there is some magical age or milestone we hit when we actually do have it all figured out, but I’m in no rush to get there. Every decision we make is a risk; and the bigger that risk is, the more methodical we should be in making it. Usually, at least at first, the chance of each choice working out is 50/50. Often, we’re really just winging it.
Our job is not to worry about where we’re supposed to be at this age or that point in our lives, but to try and better ourselves and our circumstances. I think that’s true whether we’re 18 or 80.
I don’t have it all figured out, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.