I got an email last week from a reader who told me a story about how her twenties were so exciting and full of adventure, but her thirties have been rather ‘blah’ and difficult, and she can’t figure out why.
[She has allowed me to summarize her story here]:
“I was fearless in my twenties. I didn’t care what people thought and I felt like I could take on the world. I travelled alone, got jobs here and there and led kind of a crazy life. I can’t believe I had the balls to just ask for a job wherever I was – bars, resorts, even airports. Now I’m home and in my thirties and I can’t get work. I just can’t seem to gather that same courage I had before. I have a part-time job but I’m scared to ask for a raise and I’m scared to leave. I have a two-year-old daughter so I have to do better than this but I’m not even sure I know what I want to do, even if I could muster up the courage. Where did I lose my nerve? Why is it so hard?”
This is a question I’ve had for a while, myself. I too travelled and did some crazy stuff in my twenties. I got married at twenty-four for goodness sakes! What was I thinking?! Thank God it worked out, but it so easily could have gone terribly wrong. But at twenty-four I had confidence and bravery in bounds and really, really big plans. What’s more is that all of the things I went after in my twenties worked out really well – marriage, job, university, living in Mexico. These were all dreams that I conceived, went for without hesitation, and they manifested quickly and rather easily. There wasn’t a lot of desperation or pleading with the universe back then.
Fast-forward to now and it’s the total opposite. Dreams and goals are often coloured by doubt, risk and insecurity. The things I really want now take a lot longer to appear, mostly, I think, because I have to spend more time pushing back all those negative ideas and negotiating with the Law of Attraction.
I don’t know for sure why it was easier to make things happen in our twenties than in our thirties, but I have a couple of theories.
Teenagers are notorious for having those superman complexes. Well, who is to say that there’s a specific age that this ends? I’m only guessing when I say that somewhere in our late twenties this calms down, but it isn’t an exact science. Barbara Strauch, a psychologist and the author of, Primal Teen, says that it’s not that teens have less fear, they just see less options. The broader perspective comes with experience, I guess. And, at least from my experience, it looks like it takes all of your twenties to collect a good sample. Then we go about applying this knowledge in our thirties – shooting ourselves in the foot by remembering all the bad things that can go wrong whenever we make big decisions. Great.
We’ve Seen Too Much
We’ve seen what happens in our twenties when we act reckless – “I’ll never drink again!”…(Maybe a bad example…) Yet, it seems that maybe all of our negative experiences start to pile up and eventually make an impact.
Here’s a better, yet scary, example:
It was only on the plane to go work and live in Mexico when I was twenty-five that I realized that I might be walking into a kidnapping scheme. For the entire flight and the drive with the alleged ‘agents’ to my new apartment, I was concocting very real plans to escape into the Mexican desert. It wasn’t until I saw my roommate’s happy face that I relaxed and realized how careless I had been. I was so focused on getting a job in Mexico that I didn’t take the time to check out what I was really getting into. I don’t even think I Googled the school to see if it was legit. I was completely trusting of the agent on the phone and blinded by the excitement and thrill of realizing my dream.
Inevitably, our experiences in our twenties start to teach us to smarten up for our thirties. It’s maybe not such a bad thing all the time. We just have to try not to overdo it to the extent that it prevents us from trying new things or taking a calculated risk once and a while.
Our Dreams Are Bigger
In our twenties, we have a few main things on our minds: school, romance, finding a job after university and probably travel.
In our thirties, the dreams are a little more complicated. We’re looking for permanency in all those areas and more. Life isn’t a test run anymore so the stakes are higher but the rewards greater. These kinds of things aren’t as simple to manifest and they may take a little longer to arrive.
Also, it’s getting a little late in the game to start something new – not impossible, but a little more difficult. We have to be sure we like the job we’re in before we get in too deep and wake up one day really unhappy.
In our love life it’s the same. The people we were having fun with in our twenties may not be the same type of people we can stand to look at forever and build a life and a family with.
And, unlike in our twenties, we have more than just ourselves to look out for now. Children and spouses are mixed up in the choices we make. We have more responsibilities and we know that our decisions affect more than just Numero Uno.
Basically, there’s a lot more pressure to make good on our BIG choices because we’re not just thinking of our future as some far off fantasy – we’re in it! This is the place we’ve been working to be, so we know we have to be careful with our design.
So how do we get over it? How do we get our nerve back?
I think the first step is that we acknowledge that some worry over big decisions is healthy and can keep us out of the trouble we used to get into. Secondly, we can learn from our past achievements. I’ve been trying to channel my twentysomeone and get to the feelings I had when I was able to manifest my desires so quickly. There has to be something I did in a certain way that I can do again ( a great thing we could meditate on this week). I think this could be different for everyone but, we can all agree, we all have a lot of experience by now to draw upon, so let me know what you come up with!
Please, PLEASE, share your ideas and comments! I think we’ll all be looking at the comments for answers!