A younger friend of mine who is 26 made an interesting point to me while we were discussing getting older and self-help and transitions. He said that he related to what I was going through becoming a thirty-something year old in that it was a transition. He described that musical theater people often go through a similar transition from their younger twenties to mid-later twenties. For them he said it is common to lose interest in musical theater and to face a sort of identity crisis at that point. Becoming thirty-something is essentially a major life transition. We try to sneak into it. I hoped and prayed nobody would notice or care. Meanwhile our inner landscape is being completely bushwacked and replanted, trying to prepare the soil for new seeds to grow based on what we have learned over the past thirty years, intentionally or not. The pressure to stay the same seems intense to preserve our looks, to be happy and have fun and be beautiful and have a beautiful life. It starts to become obvious that these expectations are complicated, especially as you reach your thirties. The fact is getting older is not seamless. There needs to be ample time for transition. Just like moving to a new city, or ending a relationship, or losing a loved one.
I believe that bravely and clearly defining and demanding time for yourself to appropriately transition to a new life stage is a good idea. Instead of hoping nobody notices and ignoring it. The weirdly quick process of funerals and grieving for loved ones is a good example of how we culturally like to quickly move on and gloss over and get happy again. When my grandmother died I still remember how strange it felt to only spend two days with my family and half of the time rushing around finding funeral outfits for everyone to wear.
It feels scary to face a transition because it means nothing will ever be the same again. When you are thirty-something your past self is who you were when you were twenty-something. You have to take responsibility for who you are right now and decide how you want to grow.
There is a really cool project made by photographer Stephanie Domingues on what thirty years old looks like around the world: