One Reason Being In Your Thirties Can Feel So Lonely

I’m 35, and most of my oldest friends are married without kids or with kids and/or have successful careers, or simply are content being single with a forward moving career. Most of them are pretty settled in one way or another, feeling good and grateful for where they are in their lives. They know it’s damn tough and they’ve come a long ass way to be where they are. And their lives are certainly not without struggle, be it infertility, health issues, etc. But, they’re happy to have made inroads into whatever they set out to do. And that’s awesome. It’s really inspiring seeing your friends raise kids, embark on new, challenging career goals or start a business. I’m not jealous; I know we all have unique paths to follow.

Once there was a broader path we were all on. But now the path is narrowing and more lonely than ever. Here’s the thing I’ve been thinking about. I’ve been depressed lately, and I have been remembering that I felt this same combination of ‘lost and scared’ intermittently throughout high school and college – this bleak feeling of dissociation. But what ALWAYS made it better was having friends with whom I could relate. Because in high school and college, we all felt similarly. At least I think we did.

Some of my favorite moments of high school were spent sprawled in the aisles of Barnes & Noble (which some called Barnes & Nobles – which always made me feel silly and happy), with a stack of career books and an assortment of US Weeklies and random crap, talking about our futures and all the possibilities ahead. We were blank slates, eager and excited, and all the nervousness of uncertainty was mitigated by each other’s company. When you realize you’re not alone, a huge weight is lifted off your shoulders.

At 35, I don’t have lots of friends to sit with in B & N and kvetch about life and how uncertain everything seems. I have about 2 of those friends, and they’re back home in NYC. I’m grateful for them, because we can email and talk about life and how we feel (and sometimes I can’t even email them back because I am feeling too low). But still — the number of us who are uncertain and scared, keeps dwindling. I guess that’s good, right? That’s a phase we should be past, perhaps? But…

It can make you feel alone. To feel like everyone has got at least one anchor in their life at this point, and you don’t. It doesn’t mean I’m not grateful to be alive and striving but still.

Sometimes I wish I was back in high school, in those aisles of Barnes & Nobles, with my vanilla steamer and my best friend, uncertain but hopeful about where our lives would take us, but pretty damn confident it would be somewhere awesome.

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