Most people, according to my limited social media research, will embark on some kind of soul searching in their 30’s. It represents a time of significant growth, and after all the fun of your 20s and slowly become more adult-like with adult responsibilities and other grown up things, the mid 30s life crisis seems to be happening all over the place.
From what I can gather, we’ve had enough life experience at this point to realise that life isn’t as rosy as we were led to believe in our younger life. It’s all actually a bit hard, and it certainly doesn’t always go how we want it. At some point we hit auto-pilot, and while this serves us well at times, it usually comes to a screeching halt when a significant life event throws us into a stage I like to call, “what the eff am I doing with my life?”
Auto-piloting through life is a result of how busy life has become, and by the mid thirties, many people have a family, a career, house, blah blah. If we consciously took time to mindfully think about our hectic life we’d no doubt fall apart. Auto-pilot is a lifesaver at times, and a means of simply getting stuff done that just needs to be done. It’s the reason Mindfulness has become such a thing, because we recognise that we have been sailing along and letting life pass us by, and people want to actively be in the present as much as possible. Auto-pilot can’t last forever, at some point we need to check that we’re on the right course and change direction if we need to.
From what I can gather, the switch usually occurs after a significant life event such as the end of a relationship or the sickness of a loved one, or ourselves or someone close to our age. It could be anxiety, depression or just feeling like something isn’t right that starts the search. It could be triggered by a scary experience with a child or some other way of being forced into seeing the world in a different way.
This is me all over. Pushed into a life change (you can catch up here and here and all the other posts if you’re really keen) I started meditating, manifesting, journalling, reading lots and lots on self discovery, and taking time out. I made some big changes and lots of little changes, and started to realise that I had been drifting for a really long time.
For the first time in forever, I set about making life changes with one big difference- there was no end goal. After being trained my whole life to set a goal, focus and reap the rewards, this journey is constantly challenged by my need to measure my progress because that’s not how this works. I’ve tried to just watch this thing evolve, and I’m still watching. I’ve trusted my instincts and followed the direction that felt right.
I’m no polished, recreated version of myself, in fact I’m very far from that. I am, however, significantly more satisfied with many aspects of my life. I’m accepting of how I feel about things now, rather than always fighting to feel infinitely happy all the time. Now I just want to feel like I’m where I want to be most of the time, and I no longer feel deeply unhappy day in, day out. Feeling miserable when you have everything you ever wanted is confronting when you finally come to that realisation, and it just isn’t good enough.
The name of this blog might suggest that I see myself as all balanced and lovely. It’s not like that at all. I just hit a point where I needed some more balance, I was drowning and I hated it. It all felt wrong, and I knew I deserved more. So having started the journey, and again, I’m ABSOLUTELY no expert, I’ve noticed some things that seem to come about when you’re on the road to finding who you are.
Haters gonna hate- any change is going to stir up the haters and give them more to work with. To be fair, the memes and posts you’ll share are annoying to anyone not sharing the same inspired vision as you. That’s okay. You’ll quickly learn that you don’t need their opinion because the fire in your belly to live a life you deserve will be greater than anything they can offer. Likewise, they don’t have to like and agree with what you are doing, so don’t expect understanding from everyone. Like any new found interest, sometimes it’s hard to bottle up your excitement (think of your friend who just found marathons/cake making/God) and you want to share your good feeling with everyone so that they can experience that same amazing feeling. Sometimes memes and inspirational posts don’t translate well to people who don’t want to hear it. I am a shocker for this, and have to constantly check in with myself and be wary not to over share (then write a blog completely over sharing. Go figure). Find your supporters and share with them.
You’ll feel selfish– I see this a lot, especially with mother’s who usually get the scraps when time is allocated for nurturing. At first it wont feel like you are getting your fair share, and when you do get it it will feel selfish and even self indulgent. You’ll quickly work out that it really benefits everyone. Keep your eye on the prize and schedule you time, no matter how small. Trust me, it can be done.
People will find fault– again with the haters. Some people will be incredibly critical of your choices. These people will be watching your every move, waiting for you to slip up. Make your choices with conviction, follow your gut and believe in what you are doing. If it has no purpose, get rid! You can meditate AND drink alcohol (not great at the same time, but whatever), you can do whatever you want. There are no rules, find what makes you truly happy and calmly, slowly follow that lead. People who think you’re hypocritical or fake just don’t get your journey, and you don’t owe them an explanation.
It sometimes gets harder before it gets easier- I had visions of taking a six week meditation course and being on my way to enlightenment. It doesn’t work like that. I have to really keep at it, I have to change direction occasionally, and the most rewarding journey usually doesn’t take the easiest route. And the journey just keeps evolving, there’s no end goal. The journey is awesome, and that’s what it’s all about.
You’ll want to change your life– the most popular changes I’ve seen are to take up a new hobby, lose weight, or leave that job you hate or even end friendships that are making you sad. Once you see that you are worth the journey and that you can feel the way you want to feel, you’ll make changes. Some will be tiny, some huge. Follow your gut.
Above all the benefits outweigh the negatives. You’ll find things out about yourself, challenge yourself and feel good about your choices. You might even meet some amazing, like-minded people to help you grow and change (personally my favourite part).
So far the journey feels right and that’s good enough for me. I’m so grateful for so many parts of all of this, but mostly I’m really grateful that I’m no longer on auto-pilot. If you’re beginning to embark on some mid thirties soul searching I wish you well, enjoy the ride.