Age Is Just A Number: Don't Let Turning 30 Scare Away Your Dreams

by Dinuki Suraweera

A year ago, I moved back in with my parents so I could afford to go back to school for a degree in a field that is completely different from the one I earned my first diploma in.

Oh, and by the way, I’m almost 30 years old. Did I mention I traveled to Brazil last summer and am going zip lining in Costa Rica next month?

When school, work and travel aren’t keeping me busy, I’m either writing for Elite Daily, playing a gig with my acoustic cover band or volunteering at my church. Oh, and I like to do Zumba — can’t forget about Zumba.

And, guess what the last thing on my mind is? Giving it all up in favor of society’s view on how an almost-30-year-old's life should look.

I don’t own a home; I’m the furthest from married I’ve ever been; I’m not established in my career, but (gasp) I’m happy.

I’ve been told I’m confused, all over the place, unwilling to buckle down and that my head is in the clouds. I’ve been told that at 29, I should look into settling down (whatever that means). But, all I’m wondering is how I can score a visa to do missionary work in Cuba.

I’ve been warned that going back to school in my late 20s to pursue a completely new field is crazy, especially when I’ll have to start at the bottom and not get paid even half what I made before.

But, I’d rather eat Ramen for the rest of my life than spend the next 20 years in a job that doesn’t inspire me.

I’ve been advised that journaling is a good personal habit to cultivate, but airing my issues via blogging for thousands of people to read is affecting my personal brand. Still, I’d rather others be able to relate to me than maintain a façade of having myself completely together.

I’ve been told to save my travel funds for retirement, but when I step off the plane in a country I’ve never before visited, the last thing on my mind is my 401(k).

I suppose the societal naysayers have a point: I was supposed to get all this “stuff” out of the way in my 20s so I could focus on calming down as I enter my 30s.

But, what if my insatiable curiosity to see the world hasn’t yet been quenched?

What if, instead of weddings and babies, I dream of moving to New York to be the next Peggy Olson? And, what if that takes priority over securing a romantic relationship?

Does that make me confused, childish, aimless or a hopeless dreamer? Or, does it mean I choose to define myself by following my heart rather than my age?

I see others on the brink of 30, nearly killing themselves, putting in 60-plus hours per week to get promoted at jobs they don’t love. I see free-spirited women who used to chase rainbows in Bali chasing proposals from men who don’t love them.

I see artists burying their creative aspirations for desk jobs. Because, God forbid, you enter your 30s without an established career.

I may sound like a jaded late-20-something going through her quarter-life crisis, but maybe there‘s a method to my madness.

Look, if all you ever wanted in life was the white-picket fence, a hefty retirement account and the two-and-a-half kids and dog, more power to you. And, if you can chase your dreams while doing the whole spouse and family thing, even better.

I have no qualms with someone who values a traditional lifestyle.

But, if you are a young-ish person (or any person, for that matter) and are giving up on your dreams in favor of a life you think people EXPECT you to have by a certain age, stop.

What people expect you to be has nothing to do with what your heart urges you to do.

This obviously doesn’t mean you should abandon your kids, leave your spouse and empty your bank account to travel the world and chase your dreams.

If such responsibilities are your reality, stay faithful to them, but if not, why are you driving yourself crazy trying to acquire them prematurely?

While 29 isn’t premature to desire marriage and kids if that’s what you want, isn’t it premature to desperately chase these ideals instead of having faith they will naturally unfold when the time is right?

Do you have some irrational fear that God will bring a heavy fist down on your head five seconds after you turn 30 if you haven’t yet fulfilled society’s to-do list?

We have our whole lives to be married, be parents and have mortgages. Personally, I do want to be married with children and live in a nice house one day.

But, I don’t need to forego all the other things that are important to me just to have that. Part of having faith is trusting things will work out. I doubt quitting all the things that make you happy just because you turned 30 will help your case.

Now, if you interpret this post as me asking you to be irresponsible with your finances, your career and your daily tasks, you’ve clearly missed the point. All I’m saying is, relax.

Don’t lose yourself over 30 candles on a birthday cake. Your crazy, beautiful dreams are still valid and deserve to be pursued.