As a woman in her thirties it has repeatedly come to my attention that change is my friend and my foe. While my twenties whirled by in a chaotic mess where each “surprise,” (quotes around surprise since we are all very much aware of what is said about hindsight), was a catalyst for change, my thirties have felt like the complete opposite; intentional. I am not passively awaiting my next adventure, I am causing it and planning it and throwing myself into the vast unknown. I wish I could say that I was doing so fearlessly, but that would be a lie. Change is even scarier when one has calculated both benefit and cost in advance.
This is a topic I have often returned to because it is in this decade where we are setting the tone for the rest of our lives. The twenties are like the childhood or the elementary school years of adulthood. It has been documented to exhaustion in books, movies, music and magazines that the 20’s are a decade for exploration and discovery. The 40’s are like the high school years of adulthood in that, (hopefully), it all starts to make sense- career, family, goals and life purpose. And if it doesn’t make sense, the midlife crisis too has been a topic of much discussion. So what are the 30’s? Yup you guessed it, the awkward middle school years of adulthood.
Just like in middle school, in our thirties, changes are starting to happen to our bodies that we are not totally comfortable with, ideas of what we want to be like or do when “grow up” are taking shape, and just like the math geek in middle school can turn into the prom queen in high school and join a new social circle, we start to form relationships that will either continue into the next decade, or get left by the wayside according to societal commonalities like proximity and like mindedness.
So yes, I strongly believe that our thirties sets the tone for our adult lives. Of course I also believe in the fluidity of change and its necessity for growth. Change, an intrinsic state of the universe, can happen accidentally or be instigated at any age. But I have to say that I am so impressed and so inspired by the thirty-something women out there who are not letting the decade define them, but are out there defining the decade. I am inspired by the women I know and I think of them, packing up and moving in order to change careers, going back to school, fighting for the rights of others, raising exemplary children, falling in love and pursuing the unconventional, gathering the courage to leave unhappy circumstances, never giving up. I think of them when I start to fear upcoming change, or begin to feel stagnant. I think about the intentionality of their decisions and about how they are setting the tone for their lives and suddenly I am reinvigorated.
By: Wendy Castellanos-Wolf
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