As I approached my 30s, I, unlike many of my friends, welcomed the decade with great joy, as this decade was the one where all of the good things happen, including welcomed stability. My excitement has often been countered by fear experienced by my peers. I frequently hear the disappointment of others not meeting the unrealistic expectations they set for themselves. By 30, they were supposed to have landed their dream job and dream partner, while already owning a huge home (finances were never an issue in these expectations) and having procreated a few beautiful, well-behaved children (who never cried once).
Instead, many find themselves stuck not knowing what they want to be when they grow up, hopping from one job to the next, searching for the perfect fit. Others have the same issue finding a partner and now struggle with the idea that they are dating “with purpose” and are wife/husband-hunting. More than anything, I hear the judgments related to bearing children. Those who have children judge themselves for not being a Pinterest-perfect parent (not everyone has the time to make their own organic baby food and craft the perfect projects for school) or for wanting a time-out from their own children (no one remains unconditionally stress-free with tantrums and colicky infants). For those who haven’t procreated yet in their 30s, stories of ridicule and struggles with fertility are frequent.
So, what do you do when stuck at a crossroad or when reality and your expectations don’t meet?
1. If you are struggling to find the right career path, there are specialized tools and career assessment measures to help assist in clarifying a good fit for you. Contact a career psychologist today in order to find out more about this. Therapy Changes also offers services of this nature.
2. If finances are a concern, consider seeking assistance from financial advisors or create a budget plan and track your finances on excel or another preferred system. You can assess where you are spending your funds through most credit card companies, as many have a feature, which categorizes your expenses so you can see where all of your money is going (it can be pretty eye-opening).
3. If you are stuck on a dating merry-go-round, assess what is and isn’t working for you. Are you asserting your needs effectively? What do your communication patterns look like? Do you have a pattern of dating the “wrong” person? All of this and more can be explored in therapy, and communication skills and strategies for relationships can be worked on in
4. Sometimes it helps to attend parenting classes or seek therapy for your child if they have behavioral concerns, and sometimes, your child’s tantrums are normative and it’s about working on your own coping skills and emotion management. It can also be crucial to work on that negative self-talk that creeps in, constantly worrying that you are “messing up” your child. All of this can be done in therapy.
5. If having children is something you want, but you are struggling with fertility, you may want to look into fertility treatments, adoption, etc. These processes can be quite lengthy, costly, and stressful, however. It is important to process these decisions when they are made and throughout the process itself. This can be done…you guessed it… in therapy.
Overall, life doesn’t always turn out how you planned or hoped. In fact, it rarely works out so perfectly and with such ease. It is important to monitor your expectations of one’s life and oneself. Try not to put a rigid timeline on your hopes and dreams, as people often establish unrealistic expectations and, subsequently, feel disappointed. Through all of life’s transitions and moments of feeling “stuck,” it is important to seek the support you need to persevere in a positive way.