PSA: You Don’t Have To Have It All Figured Out By Thirty

We, humans, are always on a quest for “knowing”. There seems to be a common thread meandering through each stage of our life; one that is knotted with segments representing ‘the next likely step’. 

When we are young we anticipate going to school; as teens, we understand the next step is high school; then comes college, university or trade school; and finally a career. It’s as if we’re always working towards something. On a straight trajectory to the stage in life titled, “I finally have it all figured out.”

But there also comes another stage in life.

The one that creeps up and has us thinking:

“Is it too late?”

“Aren’t I supposed to have everything worked out by now?”

You may label it as a quarter-life crisis, an existential crisis, or just a plain crisis. A crisis that has you questioning anything and everything about your current life circumstance. 

Turning Thirty – a milestone

When you reach 30, life becomes different. You’re no longer in those young, naive stages of your 20’s, but you’re also not quite at the point of having that life wisdom those in their 40’s seem to possess. It’s a confusing time where half of those in your age group seem to have their lives together while the other half are still figuring it out. 

The thing is, the journey of life is never linear. And there certainly isn’t a prize or certificate of acknowledgment when one reaches the age of 30 or 50, or whatever age you believe you should have it all worked out by.

Sure, the Queen sends you a personalized card in the mail once you reach 100, but it seems a bit presumptuous to assume that even those at 100 have it all worked out. Why? Because life is a continuous journey of learning.

The only certainty is uncertainty

No one has it all figured out. 

Let me repeat that statement one more time. Absolutely no one has it all figured out.

Yes, even that billionaire living in his 15-room mansion with his wife and four kids and a car and a pet Retriever and a global enterprise doesn’t have life figured out!

The only one who does? Our creator. God. Life source. Spirit. The universe. But even then, the universe is continuously expanding and reaching for newer truths.

Why do we think we should have all the answers?

Life is not something to master. If you have it all figured out then what’s the point in living? What would you learn? What would you strive for? What would you be forced to appreciate when things get tough and everything seems hopeless? 

The trouble with human beings is that we live for certainty. But the world is inherently uncertain. So basically, we’re winning a losing battle on our quest to have everything figured out.

Even seniors don’t have it all worked out. In a recent study into seniors and their mindset post-Covid 19, it is evident that after a year of upheaval and fear – being the most at-risk demographic – not only did their mindset change, but 74% admitted to feeling the need to adjust their priorities and expectations.

The global pandemic forced a mindset shift in the world at large. It served as a great reminder that you cannot have everything worked out and even when you do, there will always be something – a virus, a breakup, a retrenchment, an injury – that will throw you back to square one.

The comparison game

For many people in their 30’s, the pressure they feel when it comes to living life the right way (even though *spoiler alert* there isn’t a right way!) and having it all worked out, comes from comparing their life position to that of others in their age group. 

Keeping up with the Joneses (or the Kardashian’s in modern discourse) is a recipe for disaster. Everyone’s journey is different.

Sure, there may be more people at 20 studying at college – but there are also plenty of 20-year-old’s working or starting a family. There are a lot of 30-somethings with a house, kids and a career, but there are also a lot of 30-somethings still figuring out what they want.

And there are a lot of 50-year-olds married to their life partner and preparing for retirement, but there are also a lot who have never been married and who are even thinking of a brand new career change.

The secret to having life figured out? You don’t need to have it all figured out. 

Truths everyone should think about

If you have reached the age of 30 and want some truths to ponder, consider these:

  • Life is a journey meant for living. Living doesn’t mean ticking off milestones as if life is a task to be checked off. Life is about constantly learning, growing, expanding, and finding joy in simply being alive. 
  • Everyone’s life journey is different. Stop comparing. You’re exactly where you need to be right now. 
  • You are in control of your life. Choose the things that you want and live life the way you want to live. 
  • Life is uncertain. Even those who look like they have it “all together” may find themselves revisiting their life’s purpose. 
  • Other’s opinions do not matter. There is no right or wrong way to live. Shake off the stereotypes that you should be married by a certain age or should have kids or should know what you want, and focus on what will make you happy. 

It’s okay to not have it all figured out. It doesn’t matter how old you are, you will never truly completely have this thing we call life figured out. Our main purpose is to enjoy life, and to revel in its mysteries, its surprises, and its messes. 

It is fantastic to have a plan, to desire and strive for life’s treasured ‘milestones’ but there’s also nothing wrong with having no plan and to simply just flow where life takes you. 

The pressure to have it all figured out by thirty is a concept that immediately sets us up to fail. By approaching life like a to-do list, we miss the inherent beauty of each day, and the things that make life worth living.

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