When you hit your 30’s or even your late 20’s, it’s almost impossible to escape the feeling that there’s a bright red countdown clock flashing across your forehead. With every second that ticks by you’re reminded of all your friends and loved ones who are stampeding towards huge life milestones, and you seem to be at a standstill.
This feeling can be exacerbated when it seems that you’re constantly flooded with invitations to weddings, engagement announcements, baby photos, and friends showing off their new homes on social media. This might leave you doom-scrolling and comparing yourself to people who you haven’t seen in perhaps over 5 years, thinking that you’re somehow “behind” in life and that these people are “accomplishing more”.
We’ve got news for you. You’re absolutely not lagging. There isn’t a universal way to experience life, and your path is unique to you!
How to avoid feeling like you’re behind and focus on yourself
Despite it being difficult to have perspective at times, there’s no need for an early mid-life crisis. It’s OK to be on your own timeline. Here are some handy insights on how to deal with this period in our lives –
Curate your social media or take a break
If you’re finding your Tiktok FYP (For You Page) and Instagram feed filled with weddings and infants, you’re not alone! Before you interact with that post, remember that these platforms are based on an algorithm and every action you take can keep this content popping up or get rid of it. If all else fails, log out for a day or two! It will give you time to focus on your reality and not other’s highlight reels.
Celebrate your accomplishments
So you finally landed a sick new apartment in a part of town that you’ve been dreaming about, why shouldn’t you have a housewarming party? Did you just get word from your boss that you’re getting a raise? Sounds like it’s time for a dinner party! As a society we tend to focus on big, life-changing moments but all of your accomplishments should be celebrated, no matter how “small” they seem!
Adjust your immediate circle of friends
We’re not suggesting ghosting your friends! Maybe consider adding new friends to your circle who align more with where you are though. If you’re single and/or childless, but surrounded by married couples or parents, it can sometimes feel awkward or even downright frustrating at times. Depending on your location, there may be online groups to join where you can meet up with people in a similar situation and create new friendships.
Limit your time spent at certain places or events
With the holiday season right around the corner, this point is more pertinent than ever. It can be daunting to think of family gatherings knowing that once again Nana and PopPop are going to ask when they’re getting great-grand babies, or Aunt Sarah will ask “What ever happened to that nice person you were seeing?”.
We know they mean well, but it can be emotionally draining. If you’re looking down the barrel of an upcoming event where these questions may arise, remember that you probably don’t need to stay for the whole shindig. Arrive and greet everyone, mingle a bit, grab a bite to eat, say your goodbyes, and head out. You can always claim that you’re trying to beat traffic!
Boundaries, Boundaries, Boundaries
You have your reasons for not being married with 2 kids, and a white picket fence. Those reasons are no one else’s business but your own! Your decision to wait or to abstain is completely valid. You also don’t owe anyone answers. If you’re talking to someone and they get a bit too curious, as if they start overstepping your boundaries, then tell them so. Feel free to politely, but firmly, let them know that you’re uncomfortable discussing that topic and steer the conversation away.
Whether you’re single, childless, or still renting your home, here’s a reminder that you’re doing ok, and there’s no need to worry about the timeline others are following.
If you’re single and your only child has four legs and a tail, then that’s perfectly OK. It’s hard when everyone close to you is getting married, popping out babies or buying huge mansions – but you don’t have to do the same. The most important thing is to focus on your path and what makes you happy, because nothing else matters.
Your 20’s and 30’s are a time for self-discovery, growth, making mistakes, and defining your own happiness. Stop the clock for a moment – better yet, throw it out the window. This is your journey, no one else’s.
Article by Le’Mina McNair.