2018 is getting better than 2017 – of that I’m sure. Because I’m identifying issues that bugged me and am doing something about them. Not that I was a whiner, am a fixer. And worse, I’m a compulsive fixer. Most days, I am that beautiful ostrich, running helter-skelter in a big hurry and the first sign of distress, I hide under the sand and live in my own blissful cocktail of Netflix, popcorn, Caramel macchiato and avakkai pickle with rice. It takes a lot for me to come out of that and acknowledge an issue and once I’ve identified it – I have to fix it. My husband is of no help, he’s a realist. Life’s tough, he says nonchalantly. Me, on the other hand, wants life to be no less than rainbows and butterflies and Dior bags with shiny clasps.
So the latest problem, am on the awkward side of the 30s. Age or growing old is not an issue for me. But what I do with that age is my problem. Lately, I’ve been trying to find my groove, some new passion, something new that will get me out of the mundane-ness and haven’t really zeroed in on anything. Then, one night in a haze of wine, I realized I’m in a crisis of sorts and I need medication. So, I started fixing. I also started having burgers with all kinds of “fixins” – that got me more annoyed with my life. But really, how do people do this? The answer came in the shape of a friend, Heather.
Heather, used to my HR at this company I worked and she always came across as “sorted, mature and so approachable”. Over the years, we became friends, occasionally exchanging notes, asking advice and just keeping tabs. She has her own HR site, Heather Gupta and a really fun blog where she talks about her Indian life. Well, she’s British Y’all, another great reason I’m taking her advice because – NO BULLSHIT. And oh, she’s in my list of awesome moms because she’s a worker bee who manages her job, two boys, aging parents, travel and life in a nice, no-nonsense kind of way. And she’s older, already gone through her 30s travails and knows her deal. So, this is my attempt at fixing my doubts with a person who I know, has navigated her 30s bigger and better! So over to Heather…
(words of advice from the wrong side of 45!)
- Don’t panic! You have plenty of time
Mid 30’s can feel like you’ve run out of time already, especially in India where the population is very young, and 20-year-olds are snapping at your heels. I actually started my “second career” (in HR) when I was 35, and I’ve gone on to be pretty good at it. I’m now on my third. You’ve got loads of time for everything – career, personal dreams and ambitions …. even more kids :))) (I had mine at 40 and 42!).
- Enjoy the “best years”
It sounds clichéd but your 30’s are amazing. You still look really young plus you’ve gained some life experience. It’s not that life goes downhill in your 40’s, (far from it!) but you do start noticing that age takes its toll a little bit as the years go on. Being in your 30’s is the perfect decade when it comes to that sweet spot of looks + energy levels + emerging wisdom.
- It’s not a competition
I think the 20’s are particularly challenging years when it comes to making comparisons. It’s like you’re at the start of a race – everyone graduates at the same time and then there’s this unholy rush to “make it” first, whatever that means. People start comparing “designations” and salaries and it’s all actually really unhealthy. In your 30’s that peer pressure thing starts to recede, although many of us still keep those internal obsessive benchmarks of success.
- Start being “wise”
Now you have over a decade of solid work experience, and you can really put that to play to help others. The kids coming into the workplace, whether into corporate jobs or as entrepreneurs think they know it all, and let’s face it, we’ve all been there. Actually, they know nothing and you can really help guide and inspire them, especially because you have such a warm and bubbly personality.
- Start/keep building that image
This is something I didn’t do enough of, being all bashful and British, and now I finally have my own business I’m kind of starting from scratch. You are perfectly placed to do this, with the kind of expertise and focus you have, so put yourself out there. You are a fabulous brand and people need to know about you.
On a side note: This.
- Consider a second career
Apparently, most successful people go through 3 different careers these days! I think mid 30’s is the perfect time to do something completely new and different, even if it means retraining or learning something new. It can be connected to what you’ve been doing, or something in a brand new space. It’s very acceptable these days to do this, so make the most of that. Follow your passion, if you’re not already doing so.
- Take the opportunity to learn
I went through my 30’s thinking that learning should only happen “on the job”. I was actually quite reversely snobby about it all, turning my nose up at the MBAs and such like. While I still believe that learning through experience is vital, I also rediscovered (in my mid-40’s!) the value of formal “education”. Since I did my coaching course, I’ve discovered a new passion for learning about psychology, how the mind works, and all the theories behind the practice. Honestly, I wish I’d started this learning journey 10 years ago!!
- Take care of your body
It’s true what they say – the body does get a little bit creakier as you age. You can’t abuse it and expect it to perform as well, as you get older. In your 30’s, you still have that energy and flexibility, and although that by no means disappears once you cross 40, you are certainly more resilient pre 40. I did a lot of exercise in my 30’s and I continue to do so in my 40’s but somehow I wish I’d pushed myself even further.
- Don’t stress
This is the easiest thing in the world to say and it’s really hard to do. Everyone stresses about stuff, and the stresses seem to multiply as “life” happens. Having kids I think is the big one – before I had kids I was super chilled about everything, especially money. Once I had my kids, then my subconscious shifted to bombard me with non stop worries about them – how am I going to feed them, clothe them, educate them, keep a roof over their heads? Funnily enough, men don’t experience the same kind of stress, in my experience. I guess it’s all very primeval and related to survival, but for a modern woman struggling to do it all, and more, it can be very debilitating.
10. Don’t expect to become magically confident as you get older
Weirdly, I was more confident in my 20’s, and that confidence seems to have eroded over time. I guessed that it would be the other way round … I think confidence is highest when you’re really young, then all those really annoying societal pressures/fear of being “left on the shelf” / trying to juggle everything and be good at everything kick in. I still feel like a big kid most of the time, and also I’ve recently started feeling that I’m “faking it”. Maybe it’s because I’ve moved into another career space, probably also because I’m now doing my own thing, which while very liberating is also very challenging!
Oh Heather, thank you for pushing me in the right direction. This piece is for everyone who’s lived their 20s awesomely but are struggling with the aftermath of those 20s. Those in their 30s and beyond and trying to equip themselves to meet modern demands and expectations.
P.S This series is looking good, so if you’re past your 20s and looking to give me some advice. Do me a solid and mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’m happy to collaborate.
Pic via PixiStock