shouldn't i have it together in my 30s?

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    Hi there

    It feels like not a day goes by without seeing articles, forum posts, etc etc about our purpose in life, but more specifically, that by our 30s we should have figured it all out. That our 20s were for the confusion, the sense of cluelessness, and by 30, (women, in particular) are stronger, wiser, more clued in to what they want from life and no longer give a shit about what others think. I wish I could say this is true, but I have to admit, my 30s have not been easy. In fact, they’ve been so much harder than my 20s. Sure, I was more insecure, but I was more care-free, didn’t worry as much, didm;t even think about children…now…i panic. Career-wise i bored to death. My husband just left me. I’ve been more depressed than ever before and I have no idea what I’m doing, what the future holds and the sheer panic that the kids question raises is just…insufferable. I’m at that stage in life where all my friends are married, with kids (or not) and here I am again. Single and alone and clueless about what I want, where I should live, what I should be. Gosh, i wish i could look at it as a new beginning, an exciting time and an opportunity to do what I want…..yet I am overwhelmed. overwhelmed by the sense of shoulda/woulda/coulda. And it’s eating me alive. I’ve realised I don’t even know what my purpose is, what i like, what i want. How can one move forward if one has no idea what they want from life and what their purpose is?

    I am so tired of not knowing. I spent my 20s not knowing, but didn’t worry about it so much, naively believing I’d find my path and it would be ok. Yet i never did. And here I am, alone with no path and no sense of direction. it’s a lonely place to be.

    anyone else been here?

    i realise I’m still reeling from my separation and impending divorce (i moved to his country and he promptly left me alone with no friends/family).

    im so tired of this.


    Hi Kate,

    Sorry you feel down, but I have to say….welcome to the human race.
    Stop searching…you’re already there.
    Our purpose is …to be alive…and to interact with other people…to learn, and to provide lessons for others.
    Yes, each of our journey’s is different…some smooth, some bumpy…but a journey all the same. That’s the way the Universe made things.
    Through your adversity, you’ll grow stronger and new avenues WILL open up. Don’t be scared to make decisions or take chances.
    I learnt this late in life, which meant that I missed out on “going with the flow” in my earlier years. But that’s okay. Better late than never.
    You mentioned a lot of shoulda, couldas. I say, dump the regrets. It’s the one most significant decision I ever made. I swapped anger and regret for peace and contentment. The best deal I ever made.
    I put it to you that all your past decisions were made with the best of intentions and with the best information available…at the time of the decisions. Don’t let 20/20 hindsight blind you to that fact.
    Just keep moving…in any direction…and see where life takes you. None of us know what’s ahaead of us…and that’s the beauty of it all.
    Happy journeys !


    Kate, thank you for your thoughts. I have been feeling the exact same way and I found comfort in the fact that I am not alone. You basically just said everything that has been on my mind lately. Just know that you’re not alone in feeling the way you do.


    Kate, you’ve just been through a huge change in your life and it’s natural that you feel lost and unsure right now. Your whole lifeview has just been shaken and set back down in a completely different configuration to what you’re used to, and there’s no quick fix for that. However, this could turn out to be a great chance for you, even if it seems overwhelming right now.

    Just before I turned 30, I had a massive crisis that I hadn’t achieved anything I thought I would by that age – I’d just casually assumed I’d have a well-paid corporate job, a steady relationship and have done loads of travelling; instead I was single, hated my corporate job and had purposely stalled climbing the greasy corporate ladder, and had never got round to the travelling I’d yearned for. I realised I couldn’t much about the job or relationship straight away, but booked a plane ticket to Central America on the spur of the moment. That lead to me quitting my job and moving cities when I returned from my trip. Here’s the important part: I moved away from most of my friends and was faced with a fresh start, and realised I really didn’t know what I enjoyed doing when I wasn’t doing stuff to please other people.

    The best thing you can do right now, is to take a little time to just think about what you enjoy doing. Small things. Things you do just for you and not to please other people. Don’t panic and don’t rush into any more big changes, you’ve got enought to process right now, but concentrate on finding things you love again, and surrounding yourself with people who will support you in that. That might be friends and family you have, or meeting new people through the things you love.

    There are certain things in life you can change and influence, and others you can’t, and a very good friend of mine once said to me “worry about the things you can change, and stop worrying about what you can’t”. Kids and relationships – these are things that to a certain extent you can’t change; they will either happen or they won’t and us women are socially programmed to wrap ourselves in knots over it and feel like we’ve failed somehow if we don’t have a conventional life of marriage and children. Life flows in different ways for different people, some people will marry young and stay together, some will divorce, others meet someone much later or not at all. Some will have a loving relationship but not choose children. No one path is right or wrong and there are many ways to get there. Right now though, you need to find “you” again, I think, and remember who you are on your own, so you know who you might want to be when you meet someone again.

    As for jobs, well, that’s one I’m still trying to figure out too! But it is scary thinking about changing careers, and something to undertake with thought and planning. Trying just jotting down what you enjoy, are good at, what your strengths are, any dream jobs, and see if anything jumps out at you. Explore avenues and do a little research – there’s no rush, but there’s lots of ideas out there to inspire you!

    Anyway, I think the point of this essay I seem to have written was this: you’re not alone and things will get better because you’re already questioning how to improve thingg, so you’ve got the will to change. Best of luck!


    Hi Kate,

    Im with SueF on this one. I turn 31 in a months time and although I have never been married, I feel the lack of a loving relationship and any children that might come out of that. I have had other challenges in my 20s but I have worked thru them..but honestly, I have no clue most of the days as well. I face so much uncertainty and its hard to know what they next step is, if its right, if it’ll lead to what I want etc etc..

    So there you go, I dont have it together too. I thought Id have had so much more at this age but I dont..and then I also do have amazing things that werent even on my list. And Im sure you do too. Just take the next step, do the best you can. When it gets too noisy, stop and find yourself and what your mind and heart truly say. Nurture yourself, your heart, mind and soul. Everything else will happen in its own time and for a fact, Im sure you’ll be happy with how it turns out (otherwise, you can always change stuff and do it again).

    For now, look after yourself, what you have been through is hard and you dont need to do anything major now..just let yourself heal and the next step will present itself to you.




    I am so sorry you are feeling lost like you are. I used to feel like you, lost, regret, clueless, all I wanted to do was see the world and i was stuck behind a desk. I was just floating on by waiting for something perfect to present itself to me. Finally after 8 years of feeling this way, I hit rock bottom and I realized that great things don’t spring upon us, we have to seek them out. So I made some huge changes in my life, changes that will challenge everything that I believe in and challenge me physically. I still don’t know if it is the right decision. Sometimes I get out of bed and fall to the floor and say to my self “what the hell am I doing, why am I doing this?” but I wipe off my tears and continue. I refuse to live my life thinking of what could have happened.

    through this painful experience, I am able to find inspiration in places that I never would have before. and because of this inspiration, I am more determined to find out what I am really supposed to do with my life.

    I’m not here to brag about my experience, I am here to tell you that it is never too late to make positive changes in your life, no matter how old you are. The hardest steps is having faith in yourself and just taking the first step. And if whatever you decide to do is not the right thing, at least you know that you tried.

    I wish the very best for you, and remember…there is a solution to every problem.

    P.s. – stop comparing yourself to other people. Have faith.


    Thank you everyone for well thought-out and kind replies. You know, it really feels good knowing I’m not alone. You all made fantastic points – comparing our lives to others is so detrimental, and rationally I think a good many people know this, but we still do it.

    I am fortunate – I have travelled the world and lived in 6 countries. I loved my 20s – doing all these things. Yet in my 30s i feel a sense of “must be sensible and get a real career now!” type of feeling. I know Ill always travel and see the world, that’s a great passion, but I do want a purpose, a goal to reach, something i work hard towards, knowing it’s the right thing and fulfils me. I’ve always struggled to know what I’m meant to do with my life and always envy those that seemingly have their goals and purpose in life figured out. I never knew what I wanted to do…and was ok with that. For a long time. Yet now I feel a sense of urgency because my god the clock is ticking! and the sense of envy i have toward these kids who are 20/21, thinking….damn, you have so much time! Crazy, i know. I am 33 and i know ppl in their 50s and 60s that still don’t know, yet, they have chosen something and do it, to pay the bills and pursue their true passions. I am an educated, smart young woman, but feel so stuck.

    Thank you for your advice…it makes sense and it’s all very true. I just need to have faith like you said Michael, and that’s the hardest part. Believing in myself and knowing i can reach a happier, better place in life.

    thank you so much


    It sounds like you are doing a lot of comparing yourself to others.

    Ignore the noise around you.

    Ask yourself these Qs:

    – What do YOU want?
    – How do YOU want to feel?
    – How do YOU want to be living?
    – What kind of work do YOU want to be doing?

    There is no such thing as ‘having it all figured out.’ Because once you reach your dreams you once set, suddenly you have a new set of dreams that you want to reach.

    Live life on YOUR terms 🙂


    What you are feeling is exactly what I’m feeling lately except, my title would have been “shouldn’t i Have it all together BY 40?” I went through 20s and 30s not knowing what I want neither but didn’t worry or stumble too much on it. I never stopped living and just went with the flow. Got married with my 7 year boyfriend who was my first and treated me like a queen. I didn’t love him but never thought it’s that big of a deal. I wanted to have kids by 35 and he was the perfect candidate and my one and only boyfriend at that time, I couldn’t think of any other reason why I would not want to marry him. He loves me way more than I love him (I can honestly say now that I didn’t love him at all. I actually felt embarrass when saying I do..!) Two beautiful kids arrived within the past 10 years – so .. I have a hub who treats me still like a royal, 2 lovely kids, a house, a flexible part time job – shouldn’t I feel great? well… not exactly. I’m thankful for all that but I always feel like something is missing. Recently, I asked for a divorce. I felt like my kids aren’t learning any love from their parents. We argue all day, we don’t sleep together, we don’t appreciate each other. I don’t want my kids to see this everyday. I want to be able to love and have passion for someone and that’s how I want my kids to make their decision in marriage down the road.

    So I’ve been feeling miserable – divorce but not quite exactly as I’m not financially independent, we have to stay in the same house or else we’ll have to sell it and it will be a challenge for the kids with no where stable to stay. Custody of the children will be another issue to face if we signed the paper…. the list of challenges go on…

    I hope you can reflect to some extend on how you are living after hearing my story – don’t look at the age, it’s just a number. I wish I hadn’t been so adamant on having to get married by 30 and have kids by 35. The right timing goes with your heart, not the actual time of age. When I was 27, an older colleague told me to foresee how and where I want to be when I’m 40. I did exactly what I wanted. I’ve been hating myself so much, over this mistake I made, and the time I wasted. I totally used this man to fulfill my personal agenda. But lately I am learning how to forgive myself because like one of the posters said earlier to you, the decision was made with the best intention at that time. Accept that and move on slowly. I know the stuck feeling – I’m in it right now BIG time! but hey, our thoughts come and go. learn to live with this feeling and get the hang out of it. if we can’t stop feeling miserable – recognize it and gradually you will notice this misery feeling is less bothering each day. it’s just a thought that’s there, a feeling that we are feeling at this moment. Easy said than done, just don’t be too harsh on yourself.

    • This reply was modified 7 years, 7 months ago by singskyle.

    beautifully put….thank you

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