You Don’t Have to Do What Everybody Else Does In Your Thirties

I guess it’s human nature to want to do what’s cool. It’s also human nature to want to feel included. And to figure out what’s best and then go and get it. To get all there is to get out of life. Conquer the world and have it all, you amazing thirty-something you!

As you may have discovered, “having it all” in your thirties, though the cool thing to have, includes a whole lot of things. And a whole lot of expectations. And the word “cool”itself is an extremely loaded word. Sometimes it’s even cool to be “uncool” (let these words play in your head for a moment and see what images of coolness they conjure: hipsters, stoics, romantics, math geeks, solo travelers, basket-weaving majors, parents… Simply labels, but the coolness levels will vary very much depending on who’s reading this.)

Because the thirties are such a loaded decade, we may tend to feel like life failures if we haven’t figured out all the things already. After all, it’s “cool” in your thirties to have figured out your career. Very cool to be financially stable. So cool it’s obvious to get married. To have kids. To buy a house. There are “everybody’s doing it you’renotwhynotwhat’swrongwithyou??” expectations here. Just because you or someone you know defies these expectations doesn’t mean the rules aren’t there.

After all, weren’t our twenties the decade where we figured out who we were? That’s over, that’s done. We already explored all our life choices in our twenties so we now get it together in our thirties. Wrap it up, people! Exploration’s over! The thirties are the decade where you have your shit together already! Right? Right??

Are we excelling in our career? Are we finally married? Do we finally have an adorable baby? Are we able to travel the world? Are we financially independent? Are we pursuing our dreams? Are we in a beautiful home? Do we have a perfectly fit and strong body? Are our morning and night routines down to a beautiful harmonious rhythm? Jeez, there are a lot of expectations in our thirties.

Sometimes I feel better when I cut out the expectations and the chatter. Because I’m allowed to let all of that go. Really, I am. And you are too.

Really?

Realize that you don’t have to do what other people are doing. You don’t have to do what you always thought you would do in your thirties. You don’t have to rush to accomplish a goal that other people expect you to achieve but you maybe don’t believe in or feel like doing yet. You don’t have to feel bad because other people are doing things you thought you would be doing. Or if you are doing a bunch of ‘societally expected’ things and are surrounded by people who aren’t, that’s okay too! You’re where you are and that’s where you should be. You can let it all go. Really. Truly.

Sometimes I realize that I’m asking everyone for opinions on my life and calling it “venting,” when really I’m chattering on as a nervous excuse to continue a negative thought pattern again and again.  I ask friends for opinions on my life and then I worry about disappointing them if I haven’t followed their advice. Which sometimes changes anyway. Sometimes, it’s great to vent, and venting in itself can be very healthy. But venting negativity needs to be evaluated on a case by case basis. I have to know when I’m venting for a fantastic release or when I’m venting to reinforce my own bad feelings again and again and again.

I’ve also found that sometimes I need to stop and center myself to think about what I really want. Do I really want to make a ton of money by climbing up a corporate ladder, or am I simply envious of some of my friends who are doing that? Do I really like being super busy, or is it just “cool” to be busy? Do I actually want to travel all the time, or am I simply surrounded by people who love to travel all the time? Do I want to be married because I’m 32 and it’s ‘getting to be about that time already jeeeeeez!!’ or do I want to be married because I’ve found a person I love and actually want to spend the rest of my life with? Once I see cultural expectations for what they are, they’re easier to spot and release. It’s always a case by case basis- some expectations are things that truly make my heart sing. While others- come to think of it- don’t increase my happiness at all.

It’s an amazing release to let go of what you “should” do. And gradually, but also suddenly, what you should do becomes strikingly clear anyway.

 

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Why Do Some People Annoy Me When They’re #Blessed?

I enjoy when other people are happy. Most of the time. However, every once in awhile, someone strikes me as false- like they’re hitting me with Bright Rays Of Sweet Sunshine Happiness…but my gut is bothered by something. And I never really knew what was bothering me before, but recently I think I can hazard a guess. It’s what I call a duality. Or really,  in these cases, it’s a missing duality.

What is a duality? Well, I believe that a lot of times, two opposite things are happening at once to all of us. Usually we only think that one thing on one end of a spectrum can be happening at one time, but this is false. Here are some examples:

  • Dealing with future goals and being in the present moment at the very same time
  • Being happy and being sad at the same time
  • Something being painful but strengthening at the same time
  • Being upset about something but loving yourself anyway, simultaneously
  • Feeling really scared of something and being okay with that same fear all at once

There are many more of these examples, and it’s an interesting topic that I could write at length about…but I’ll keep it short because thinking about a duality is a counterintuitive way of thinking and I don’t want to convolute things. Dualities are paradoxes that aren’t obvious at first- how can two opposite things happen in our minds at the exact same time? But they can and they do.

So when I talk about ‘missing dualities,’ I’m talking about refusing to allow the second/opposite feeling into ourselves. I figured this out because I used to do this all the time- I’d be sad about something, but instead of acknowledging it, even to myself, I’d cover it up, slap on a smile, and not let it out. I’d push on without hearing the feeling at all- I’d just tell it to go away. I’d be #blessed but not actually happy or centered.

Or sometimes I’d be the opposite way- I’d feel anxious about something, and I’d think to myself “this is all there is. I’m always like this. It’s never ending,” and I’d go on and on about how hard things are…without giving one thought to the strengthening and good things happening at the same time.

When I acknowledged the dualities, I could better look at a feeling and know that it wasn’t the whole picture. I could hear my occasional sadness and know that it isn’t me. I could be happy and acknowledge sadness or fear that still occurs.

Dualities are everywhere. Knowing about them started to clear up what used to baffled me. I’m still working on acknowledging dualities and seeing them when they appear in myself. Maybe hearing about them will strike a familiar chord for you too.

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Why You Can’t Get Through Your To Do Lists in Your Thirties

I was talking to a friend of mine the other day who is also my new accountability partner. We check in every Friday to see if we’re staying on track with our goals and tasks that each of us have laid out for ourselves.

I usually don’t like this sort of thing- being checked in on by someone to see if I accomplished something. Even when I was a kid I didn’t like due dates or people telling me what to do. I’m pretty independent and quite self-motivated, so usually when someone tries to manage me, I want to do the exact opposite of what they say. I like, instead, when people are encouraging, like “great job! You’re amazing! Keep doing that unique thing, you extremely special snowflake!” etc. But I guess everyone likes that.

However, accountably partnership apparently works really well for me! Who knew?  I’m really trying to stay on track with certain online business tasks, and when my friend proposed the idea of checking in on each other, I thought I’d give it a try. And it has been great! Beyond great! It has been brilliant. I’ve gotten SO. MUCH. DONE. Sometimes something you think won’t work because it hasn’t ever worked in the past suddenly works in the present. So really, you never know. Try new things, guys. Or try old ones again…

Anyway, something we both discovered when working through our numerous To Do list items is that some items are super easy and can be crossed off in milliseconds, and others seem to drag on for yearsssssss…

Well, maybe not YEARS…but a really long time. And then you don’t get that awesome satisfaction of checking off a to do list item (isn’t that the best feeling ever?) Instead you get stuck on one darn thing.

Why does this happen? My friend and I asked ourselves that question numerous times as we struggled on sudden tasks that brought us to full stops and felt crazyyyy slowwww. And then we realized it- sometimes a task is a zip file. You know, those files that you open up and suddenly see….more files. Sometimes a whole lot more files.

So when you’re working through a task list, watch out for those ZIP FILES that will slow you down. When you realize a task is a zip file (hint: it has many parts and takes forever), break it down into smaller tasks! Then you can check them off and gain satisfaction from checking items off and, you know, accomplishing stuff! A good example of a hidden zip file is a list that looks like this:

  • -Get groceries
  • -Do Laundry
  • -Write novel

I’m kind of exaggerating, but which one of these tasks do you think is a zip file? Yeah, probably not laundry. So, if you’re struggling to check off your novel-like task, break it down into something like:

  • Write first draft of chapter one of novel
  • Edit chapter 1
  • Write first draft of chapter 2 of novel
  • Celebrate with glass of wine!

Open up the zip file! Then do your laundry. And your tasks may truly get a whole lot more manageable!

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