I’m 29, so my 20s are coming to an end rather quickly. On one hand, this does make me feel I need to pause and reflect on the past decade and where I want to go with the next one. On the other hand, I can’t help but think it doesn’t matter at all. My husband is 32, and nothing monumental seems to have shifted in him as he crossed the magical 30 barrier. Most of my friends are, now that I think of it, in their early 30s as well. Life is not a series of decades one after the other, it’s just life. It flows.
But I digress. I do think it’s important to take stock now and then to make sure I’m on the path I want to be on. 30 seems like as good a milestone as any to reflect on where I’m at, and maybe, where I “should” be.
So…where am I?
Family: I’m married, and I have a child. I married young (23, compared to the national average of 29 for women) and it sure didn’t make me feel like an adult that had it all together. When my daughter was born (when I was close to but slightly younger than the national average for first time mothers) I still felt like a child, but that wore off after the 100th or so dirty diaper. I’m an adult now, for real. I finally believe it. So as far as those two big milestones go, I’m knocking it out of the park. Woo!
Career: Here I might not be doing so well. I suppose it’s a matter of perspective. This past spring I came off of maternity leave, and within 2 months my employer of the past decade went bankrupt. This was…problematic. I’m left with a frustratingly specific resume and about zero experience in job hunting. Now that I’m more or less financially recovered from that little crisis, I can say it was a blessing. I’m now self-employed, and still working in the same industry but only part time on contract, so that it isn’t my whole life. I feel in control of my destiny more than ever before. The trade-off is a substantial decrease in income, which is a little tough to swallow when my expenses are higher than ever. But I will work my butt off and find a way to be better off than ever before. For now, I’m optimistic. Which brings me to…
Income: My whole post nearly got derailed as I researched this and got pissed off about the wage gap. Despite my recent pay cut, I hold my own relatively well with my peers: my annual income is slightly higher than average for a woman 25-34, which means it is well below the average for a man 25-34. Now let’s all hang our heads for a moment on reflect on the fact that the difference between the two is over $10,000 annually. Not cool. I also found this delightful article about how much you need to earn at age 20, 30, and 40 to be in the top 1% (of Americans). The answer, for 30-year-olds, is about $135,600, meaning I am definitely, definitely a member of the 99%.
Home: I am often treated to pity or horror over the fact that I have a kid and live in an apartment. It’s OK, I swear. Trying to find some information on whether other millennials were buying houses, I was skimming this article and came across this pull quote:
“I don’t think the Great Canadian Dream is ‘I want to live on the 27th floor of a tower in downtown Edmonton.'”
Harsh, bro. I live on the 12th floor of a tower in downtown Edmonton. And you know what? It’s pretty great. I have a nice view, a decent-sized condo, and a reasonable number of barriers between my toddler and the wide open world (no running into traffic while I’m in the bathroom for you, missy!).
And I guess that’s what it comes down to for all these categories, really. Whether I’m where I’m “expected” to be, whether I’m where my peers are at, that’s all interesting information. But at the end of the day, regardless of my age, the big questions aren’t where I “should” be. Am I where I want to be? Am I satisfied with my life? Am I headed towards my goals? Am I enjoying the route I’m taking to get there? I do feel like, for the most part, things are going well. I’m heading into my 30s excited for the next decade, and assuming it will be an improvement over the last one. The quarter-life crisis is in the past, and I’m ready for whatever comes next. Bring it, life.