Let me apologize, right off the bat - I am not here to tell you how to be successful by age 30, 31 or any other age, for that matter - for a number of reasons. The few being: We all rate success differently, I'm not quite your poster child for success, and frankly, success just might be overrated.
And if asked whether or not it was overrated, the general public would likely agree.
Ask 30-somethings and younger, and they would audibly agree, even hashtag-agree. (Though our followings on social media may not).
It is kind of the idea behind this whole kinfolk-y hipster culture, no?
#LiveAuthentic. #LiveFolk. (#LiveConflicted ?)
Success is a big deal to us. We want to win, win, win. And striving for success can certainly be a healthy thing. But we have the tendency to strive for success solely in our careers and persona, while everything else falls to the wayside.
Granted, success defined from one generation to the next can look entirely different. In regards to our pursuits, the pool of us millenials who have reached or are nearing 30, seem to fall into these few categories: idealists, realists and those who are quite content living under their parents' roof until they can cash in mom and dad’s will. (Sorry, that was morbid.) However, I will add, there is no shame in living at your folks for a season in life.
For those of us who are idealists, the standards for success are no longer that of our parents' of a 401 k, a house with an in-ground pool and a solid retirement plan. Rather they have escalated to the pursuits of a media-driven fame and rapid fortune - and realistically lifestyles of the one in a million. ("So you're saying there's a chance!" Yes, you optimists - there is always a chance.) Retirement is not the life goal, as it once was, which is why many of us pursue careers we will never tire of; which makes the stakes of success we strive for seem that much more vital.
Many of us who've hoped for success by 30, just aren't there. Yet many nearing age 30 are hopeful for a life expounding with a success. But maybe success isn't all it's cracked up to be. Maybe there's an upside to having yet reached a peak in your career at this still ripe stage of life.
We are often bombarded with posts full of demeaning encouragements for the "Secrets to Success" or "What it Takes to Be Successful Before You Turn 30". But why don't we talk about the perks of not gaining success at a young age? (Because let's face it, the majority of us are right there.)
And yes, shocking as it may be, it does have its perks:
1. You're far from being settled in.
When you are settled in, life is suddenly more predictable. And though we don't love the word, we find a certain security in predictability. For most of us, we assume much of life would have been settled in by age 30. Considering the common track of our parents, that is just kind of a given, right?
Though for me settled in was probably some version of The Devil Wears Prada playing my head (and yes, equally as formulated and cheesy): I would know my career path early on, move to the big city, work my way up in a lowly job in a lofty place for the devil incarnate, get my heart crushed and then jump back up to success.
In reality my career path couldn't be further from any such glammed formula; my career track has had no real track. My resume is a mess. (Though working for the devil incarnate, at one point or another, might not be too far off.)
The idea of a common career track is a thing of yesterday. And a common life track, a thing of history. There is a thrill in not knowing what every year of your life will hold; the good and the bad.
Learning to live in uncertainty keeps you on your feet. It causes one to live with a mobility that is prepared for change when it comes. Because change will come, regardless of how settled in life may feel.
2. Your friends are really your friends.
With the new merge of media-driven jobs, our definition of friendship has taken on a new form. The lines that separate where business ends and friendship begins are suddenly blurred.
As much of our success that is seen through the tinted-lense of the social platforms we live on, keeping them all warm and rosy requires more work than the the typical 9 to 5. As our work ethics have evolved, and our lifestyles and careers have merged, our approach to relationships has shifted. Much of our network relies on our friends, and much of our friendships revolve around that network. But when your livelihood isn't riveted on your Google Analytics, or followers on Instagram, your circle of friendships don't always have to reside within your network. And call me crazy, but there is some comfort to be had in knowing the loyalty of your friendships aren't deemed to shift with the direction of your vocation.
3. You're free to explore new interests.
Without failures kicking us on our faces now and again, we're less likely to see what else is around us. Sometimes getting knocked off track, gives you the opportunity to figure out where exactly you are headed and why.
Exploring new interests, even just for the sake of intrigue, can enhance your life and relieve undetected stress. Prior to the talents of multi-tasking numerous apple devices, while Netflixing Downton Abby, there was a time when a variety of talents weren't even linked to a career, but a mere means to enriching one's life and the lives of those around you.
4. You're not quite so naive.
When you have a drive for success, or are somewhat ideal, you have the tendency to be very optimistic, very hopeful. And this is not a bad thing in the least. In fact, it’s the very thing you should maintain regardless of failure or success.
But, at times, facing failure causes you to face more truth than one would care to see: Why bosses promise what they promise, why your character or values have suddenly shifted, and why sometimes it just isn't a good fit. Failing (even miserably), or in many cases someone failing you, causes you to face some naiveties you would otherwise be blind to.
5. You hold success with a grain of salt.
Screenwriting guru, Bobette Buster, once said "When seeking the success of your entrepreneurial heroes, like a Steve Jobs, you have to ask yourself: Do I also want to be the kind of human being, that was required for that success?"
Sometime, in the long run, the success we could have just can't outweigh the worth of the rich lives and relationships we can invest in.
In short, most of us hope work to look and feel immensely rewarding by this age. But for many of us, it just isn’t. That doesn’t mean the opportunity you’re dreaming for isn’t around the corner. It just means the moments that may not feel significant, are often time much more than you think.
Life can be just as enriching outside of the spotlight, as the moments in it.
Sometimes even more.