In movies, books, and TV shows, the concept of the mid-life crisis is pretty well represented.
But what about the rest of us? Don’t we count too?
Remember, no age group is immune to struggle. As someone in his mid-thirties, I can certainly attest to that.
We thirty-somethings have our own unique set of internal trials and tribulations that could also use a bit of addressing.
So if you’re in the age range and have been feeling a little lost and introspective of late, you’ve come to the right place.
In this article, I’ll walk you through the signs you’re undergoing the “30s crisis” and a few tips on getting through it.
1) You feel stuck or unfulfilled
When you’re in your twenties, you feel indestructible.
You’re young, vibrant, and full of life. Hell, even your hangovers are tolerable.
Things are a little different when you hit your thirties.
The armor of youth begins to fade, and you start to scrutinize your life choices more closely.
Maybe you are not quite living the life that you’ve always pictured–a fact that can slowly eat away at you.
Eventually, you might feel like you are stuck in a rut.
Maybe you have a dead-end job, are in a stagnant relationship (or single and not by choice), or just feel a general malaise towards life.
Perhaps, you even start growing indifferent about things you used to be fiercely passionate about.
2) You compare yourself to others
If you’re the type of person who tends to compare yourself to others, you might want to log off social media as soon as possible.
Platforms like Instagram or TikTok are almost custom-built for comparison, which with prolonged exposure, can make you feel all the more empty or left behind.
Remember, what you see on your feed has, for the most part, been carefully curated
Everyone has the absolute best version of their lives on there, making yours feel all the more bleak.
But as hard as it is to believe in this day and age, social media does not represent real life.
If your peers are flashing their fancy, new cars or posting about an extravagant honeymoon to the Amalfi Coast, try to take these things with a grain of salt.
Everyone is on their own journey. Comparisons are distracting–and only serve to hold you back from real progress.
As long as you have a roof over your head and a person or two you care about, you’re doing just fine.
3) You keep doubting past choices
Living in the past will get you nowhere.
If you’re constantly second-guessing your career, relationships, or other big life choices, this will do nothing but cause unnecessary stress.
So shift your perspective by actively making the most out of your current reality.
Unhappy in a relationship? Break up.
Be strong. Don’t think about how you should’ve pursued someone else six years ago; this is self-torture.
Regret not working harder in school? Then start actively educating yourself and create opportunities through the internet.
Like I said, nobody’s path is linear, so start owning the present, and stop dwelling on the past.
The first installment of Peter Jackson’s epic Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Fellowship of the Ring, is still one of my favorite movies.
The hobbit Frodo finds himself overwhelmed with the colossal burden of destroying the ring and having to save all of Middle Earth from imminent destruction.
He’s on the verge of throwing in the towel when the astute wizard Gandalf interjects.
Frodo: “I wish it need not have happened in my time.”
Gandalf: “So do I, and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”
In other words, while life doesn’t always turn out as ideal as we’d like, it doesn’t rob us of the ability to make the best out of those circumstances.
4) You have a fear of aging
As established, when we’re young we feel almost invincible.
In our thirties, the prospect of mortality begins to creep up.
Maybe we have friends or relatives who have passed prematurely, or we hear about people younger than us contracting terminal illnesses.
Regardless, the aging process becomes palpable.
We might get new, unknown random aches and pains or feel the occasional flurry of hyperacidity or gout.
Whatever it is, as we get older, our health becomes an issue, as we observe it withering ever so slightly.
Further, if we’re not quite where we want to be in terms of career or life, we begin to feel pressure–almost as if it’s a race against time to reach goals and milestones.
This means higher levels of uncertainty, anxiety, and sometimes even depression.
5) You have a persistent desire for a major change
Our thirties kind of represent an intermediary period–a halfway mark, not halfway through life per se, but a point where we can still grasp the vigor of youth, yet simultaneously feel the restrictions and limits of adulthood.
This ambiguous stage of life may prompt us to make some major life changes.
This can mean moving to a new country, ending a long-term relationship, or making a major career change.
Your logic is: I need to make start moving before age becomes a factor.
This was exactly my mindset when I was working a monotonous and soul-sucking nine-to-five job in sales.
So a mere two years ago, as I approached my 33rd birthday, I sent in my resignation letter.
I found an opportunity that allowed me to work remotely, from essentially anywhere in the world.
Hence, my voyage into the digital nomad world began–a chapter that I had long coveted but never really did anything about.
I followed my dream of moving to a coastal town in Spain.
Today, I spend my days juggling work, eating tapas, and imbibing some of the world’s finest draft beer.
Of course, it’s never too late to make a drastic change in life.
But for me, being a single man, I felt that I’d get the best results by moving when I did–at a juncture where I’d still have the energy to experience the transition in full.
6) You keep questioning your identity
You wouldn’t be experiencing the so-called 30s crisis without the occasional bout of existentialist angst.
Maybe the humdrum, the mundanity of everyday life has finally gotten to you.
Wake up, go to the office, eat, sleep, get drunk, get hungover. You start to question if there’s more to life.
You might ponder about the deeper questions of the universe, about the vastness of time and space, all the while slaving away at an undesirable admin job or selling overpriced insurance.
This makes you feel jaded, confused, and even isolated–as if nobody really understands you.
You know that something needs to fundamentally change, but you can’t quite put your finger on what.
How to overcome the 30s crisis
If you legitimately desire change, you have to be assertive and dedicated.
In life, and particularly in your thirties, nothing of value will just land on your lap.
Next, it’s worth engaging in self-reflection–to really gain a firm understanding of what you want in life and what needs to go. Write these things down if you have to.
I get it though, with the grind of life chipping away at you, finding yourself can be tough.
So seek support through understanding friends and family; find professional help if need be.
Sometimes, all you really need is a gentle nudge to maximize your potential.
Focus on your own journey and your own path. Learn to stop caring about societal expectations. Remember, comparison is the thief of joy.
Finally, don’t forget to be gentle with yourself. Prioritize self-care.
Celebrate little victories, rather than fixate on trivialities.
Your thirties are a pivotal decade, so keep treading forward.
Don’t be the person who says they “could’ve” done this or “should’ve” done that when they were younger.
The ball is firmly in your court now; make sure it bounces in the right direction.