We live in strange times to say the least. But too much time on hand, opens up much time allocation to random compare and contrast exercises.
As the decade turns the corner into the 2020s, so does a generational one. Millennials my age are dealing with the loss of their thrilling tumultuous 20s and are yieldingly growing into their tame tranquil 30s. They say 30s are the new 20s. They also said 40s were the new 30s. You get the drift. ‘They’ are likely a victim of acute nostalgia and wishfully hold onto preceding age boxes; all in the hopes of alleviating the uncertainty of succeeding ones.
With loss, come the 7 stages of grief. Shock/Denial give way to pain/guilt which bulldoze onto anger/bargaining which open up to reflection, upturns, reconstruction, and finally leading to acceptance. I have been through all 7 (in no particular order) and am finally circling back to somewhere between reflection and acceptance in this post.
For some it was possibly like the flip of a switch; for others like me, transitions often call for a pause and penning down contemplation. The 20s are over and we are 30 somethings now. It’s possibly not dramatic enough to merit a whole blog post to itself. But at the very least, an analytical mind can indulge me in some classic compare and contrast exercises across key departments.
Observations across 7 categories of differences between the two decades allows one to remise and welcome a new phase. Again, neither black nor white, but all shades of gray.
1. Careers – What you seek is seeking you. – Rumi
As we seek to fulfill that ever-elusive “follow your passion” advice, try to find our work/job, and eventually a career, 30s while providing no easy solutions, finally bring a sense of zen in our pursuits. If your 20s were about impatient self-imposed deadlines, mindless competition, and endless self-doubt… in our 30s, we finally pause and think. We stop aimlessly following the herd. We get more courageous to shatter our sense of self and eventually re-build our identity beyond simply money, a job title, or our place of work. Our aspirations no longer depend on what the neighbor uncle thinks about the prospects of a certain degree or industry. Or about what your classmates from business school are pursuing. And so the blinders finally come off. We start thinking of careers as jungle gyms rather than just straight up ladders. We dabble around in interests beyond just work. Study something new without the sole aim of straight A grades. Take that creative writing class you have always wanted to. Focus on building skills and not just a resume. And slowly but surely your work mirrors – Flow.
CLOTHES – “Fashions fade, style is eternal.” —Yves Saint Laurent
If your 20s were about mindless consumption, your 30s beg urge to be deliberate consumers. As your Louboutins & Blahniks gather dust in the back of your closet, you start getting more out of your nike trainers and yoga pants. As late nights out on the town/clubbing into the wee hours with strangers give way to the cozy dinners indoors with close friends. Floor length sequined gowns open up the slits to fluffy comfy pajamas. You gravitate to the same pairs of jeans, three white t-shirts, and trusted denim jacket for every occasion. And, finally couture gives way to comfort. Of course, you still keep the little black dress tucked away, just in case for one of those days you decide to travel back in time to your 20s!
FOOD – Dear Metabolism, i miss you. Please come back.
Nothing much to say here except, its all fun and games until your metabolism slows down. 🙄Endless scoops of ice cream. Sure! Another butter naan and serving of butter chicken. Go for it! 3 pints of beer. Cheers! With your 30s comes a more complicated relationship with food and everything that seemed so easy breezy in your 20s. You go from cheat weeks > cheat days > cheat hours >take a whiff of that cupcake and imagine biting into it. Well maybe not as dramatic. But you get the gist. It just takes more than it used to (do absolutely nothing!) to stay healthy.
FITNESS – Exercise? I thought you said Extra Fries. 🍟
I don’t remember doing anything except exist in my 20s to stay in shape. But the same can’t be said for your 30s. It sure takes a lot more than just staying aline. It take multiple gym memberships and fitness classes to just stay neutral. Yoga. Check. Pilates. Check. Standing desk at work. Check. Of course, i’m checking these off in my mind for “to do”. 😂
MONEY – Each to his own vs. Let me get this!
When you were eternally short on dimes, you had all the time in life with friends who were equally short on pennies. And today, even with all the pile of cash, platinum/titanium/other rare metal pre-approved credit cards, and the swankiest lifestyle, you can barely get your friends together to be in one place in the same time-zone. Economics 101. In life, you realize the true value of the resource you have extreme scarcity of — In our 30s, that resource is – time with true friends. So cherish every minute that you are lucky to get with them and always fight for that check while reminiscing the time no one paid as you made a hurried exit! 💰 💵
APARTMENTS – It doesn’t matter much where you live. It only matters how well you live when you’re there.
From beanbags, lava lamps, posters, and what’s that smell in your 20s. Cut to serious furniture, art, soap, and floor rugs, apartments in your 30s sure see a serious facelift. You refuse to live like a nomad anymore, refrain from transitory options. All things in your home now have an aesthetic color palette and appear spic n span. While both houses felt like home in the times you embodied them, you can’t help but miss the ruggedness of your 20 something apartment and reminisce the times you first started living on your own!
TRAVEL – Don’t be the person who is too busy when you are young and too tired when you are old.
The best gift you can give yourself is to travel when young. Don’t worry about the money, just make it work. You will be better for it. While 20s demonstrated an invincible sense of adventure, 30s brings deliberate travel into life. When young, we travel with an endless sense of possibilities, and no plans. Be it taking off on a bike with half a tank of gas in the middle of the night to the nearest beach, or get on a one way train ride to the mountains. The journey itself becomes the destination. Granted, the sporadic 30s’ travel seems too responsible to our past selves, it’s probably safer, more luxurious and overly sanitized. Doesn’t mean every once in a while you can’t take a detour on a road-trip, for dinner in the next town over; of course on a full tank of gas.
So a lot changes from your 20s to 30s. The only thing apparent is how our 30s make us feel. Not necessarily ‘better’ or ‘worse’ but just different.
From endless dating to stable relationships. From being childish to having children. From the fountain of youth to aging gracefully. From seeing your parents as the enemy to understanding them a little better. We all experience some permutation or combination of the above or something else entirely. Of course, like with anything else, both decades bring a mix bag and eventually it depends what you choose to focus on.
As for me, i now hold on to the cherished sense of invincibility from my 20s…and keenly look forward to conquering the world in my 30s. And you?
Check out my previous blog on Taking your Parents back to childhood at Boneville Salt Flats and the one coming up soon!
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