5 min read
by Ngozi Kemjika | February 10, 2021
When I entered my thirties, not long before Covid-19 hit, I became hyper-aware of the pressures that often go hand-in-hand with entering this new decade. In my late twenties I experienced a lot of breakthroughs, which were brought on by A LOT of breakdowns. So I, for one, was super excited to leave my twenties. Although I also had a lot of fun and experiences that I wouldn’t change for the world, I actually much prefer the woman I have become.
I am more confident, have more freedom, and I’m much more carefree. However, I see some of my peers struggle with the idea of being in their thirties, because society has somehow conditioned us to think we need to be snatched in every single area by then.
Now I’m all for being snatched in mind, body, and soul, but I am also *staunchly* against living for the expectations of outside influences. It got me thinking about the pressures we and society put on ourselves to have ticked off a checklist before a certain age.
For me, it’s all about living authentically, learning from your experiences, continually developing your character, as well as trusting *and* enjoying the process along the way. So here are some things I’ve learned about leaving your twenties:
Let’s explore some facts first. Scientifically, people’s brains don’t reach adulthood until their thirties. Professor Peter Jones, a neuroscientist at the University of Cambridge, has explained that moving from childhood is a “nuanced transition that takes place over three decades.” In layman’s terms, that means according to science, adulthood happens in our thirties. Is it then fair to expect those who have just exited this developmental phase to have figured themselves out completely first — before adding pressures and comparisons to the equation? *Newsflash*, a lot of us 30-year-olds are still figuring s**t out.
When we look at the pressure of having certain things, like your dream job, multiple sources of income, or children by our thirties, the basis often stems from comparing ourselves to others. The reality is we are all unique and have different life experiences. So how can we measure our lives with another person? By all means, aim high, set out your goals, work towards them, smash them, but be less attached to outcomes by an age deadline. Your age and your achievements do not define your worth.
For many of us, our twenties are a time to make new friends, drift from old ones, experiment, go through a period of often tempestuous soul searching, and let’s face it, do some people-pleasing along the way. As you continue to grow, you should always try to remember that it will serve you best to shed the people, systems, and ideologies that don’t serve you. Whether that means creating healthy boundaries with friends or family who make you feel like crap because you haven’t met their expectations, or unfollowing all the social accounts who make you question your self-worth — be a butterfly: shed, and shed fast.
Additionally, word of advice, do *not* entertain triggers. In my work as a life coach, I see the benefits of embracing the art of not giving a damn (within reason, of course). People will always have something to say no matter what you do. With this mind-set comes a shift in prioritizing the life you’re creating over other people’s expectations.
Mental health has rightfully been a huge talking point in 2020. So much so, the World Health Organization reported on guidelines for protecting it during the pandemic. Being in lockdown, losing your job, or not knowing where your next check is going to come from are just some of the very real realities many are facing. But the uncertainty of the current times has also taught us that we have more control over our inner being than our external circumstances. That is why it’s always important to prioritize your mental health and wellbeing. Instead of focusing on what you haven’t got yet, pour yourself into prioritizing who you are, what you are here to do, and who is the person you want to be. This requires self-reflection and patience — attributes you cannot nurture if your focus is solely based on the external or things not in your full control.
In my mid-twenties, I would panic about the future, but as I reached the end of them I learned that overly obsessing about the future is a fast-track way to anxiety. What is for me will never pass me by. Who I am is still being uncovered. That’s the beauty of life — we keep learning, growing and evolving. To have life is a blessing, whether 5, 25, 55 or 95, married or single, a homeowner or renting. So let’s stop using age to look at what we haven’t done, but rather as a celebration of how far we’ve come, and how much further we would like to go.
Are you struggling with the idea of turning 30? Or did you, if you already have? What is it about your thirties that you love or that freaks you out? Share in the comments section below.
Ngozi is a writer, speaker and life coach. She combines words, poetry, content, and experiences to help women build more self-love, self-worth, and support them in redefining the relationship they have with themselves and others. She is also the author of ‘Before the Butterfly Wakes’, a collection of poetry and prose focused on self-love, healing, and transformation. Ngozi’s work has been praised and featured on platforms such as Well+Good, Whitewall Magazine, Teen Vogue, and Soho House. Connect with her on Instagram and Twitter @simply_ngo.
by Ngozi Kemjika