It has been a year since I entered my 30s.
I´ve always wanted to write one of those articles about life lessons. But a year ago, I had no blog.
So, it's better to do it now than wait another 10 years for a catchy title!
In the Balkans where I am from, turning 30 is a big deal. It's celebrated like America's Sweet 16 or Latin America's Quinceañera, marking a new life phase. However, public respect is not unconditional any more.
Here comes the pressure of hitting MILESTONES.
While in your twenties no one expects you to have life figured out, in your 30s you´d better have a detailed plan (not for you, but for the relatives):
When are you finally getting a “real” job? When are you getting married?… What is your take on having kids?… When are you going to settle down?… Why are you still single?…
In Denmark, they have a unique tradition: if you're single at 25, you get cinnamon thrown in your face; at 30, your friends upgrade it to pepper. Of course, this is harmless teasing.
The more serious challenge: internalising this social pressure.
not feeling on “purpose” could make you feel like a big, fat, FAILURE;
you might honestly believe there is “right” way of living;
you might blindly follow the mainstream to hide from public shaming.
This is how we fall into the trap of living lives that are not ours.
The worst part, it is ASSUMED that we all WANT exactly the same things!
Here are 30 good reasons why you should not buy into this nonsense.
Just for you, I jotted down 30 different short and long “lives” from my far-from-linear experiences.
Once upon a time I used to be:
an acing student, 12 years: got only excellent grades, chasing perfection at school
an aspiring artist, 4 years: went to art lessons, won 1 silver medal from a youth competition in India
a good daughter, 15 years: as a “good” kid, until teenage bullies forced me to be more opinionated
an ambitious rock´n´roll dancer, 10 years: won 9+ national medals, competed at an European level
a cool hip-hopper, 3 years: danced with the cool kids just for fun; found a community, no medals
a beer pong fan, 2 years: “wasted” hours playing at a local bar, learned life lessons from strangers
a caring girlfriend, 6 years (in total): learned how to be a partner, while putting loving boundaries
a traveling explorer, 11 years (still counting): went to 25+ countries, lived in 3, made a lot of friends
a passionate activist, 2 years: organised 15+ educational events, became proactive and responsible
a documentary lover, 3 years: co-hosted 2 documentary festivals, learning the art of storytelling
a casual poet, 6 years: wrote short poems for birthdays, baby showers, and for my grandpa´s joy
a patient bartender, 2 years: sold 60+ craft beer types, cheering up drunk people with life regrets
a researching anthropologist, 6 years: done all sorts of interviews, learned to ask good questions
a video storyteller, 2 years: worked at a creative agency, learned to visually tell better stories
a panic attack victim, 5 years: fought social anxiety, panic attacks, IBS syndrome, discovered my real career purpose
a yoga girl, 10 years: learned self-discipline and how to honour my body and tame my mind
an intermediate faster, 3 years: did regular fasting, Ayrveda detoxes, learned to heal with food
a community volunteer, 2 years: did environmental initiatives, learned a to care about nature
a community builder, 3 years: weaved connections in professional networks, learned to co-create
a consulting innovator, 6 years (still counting): initiated projects related to business innovation
a human connector, 10 years (still counting): connected people to unfold their potential together
a disheartened unemployed, 1 year: wasted time applying for 50+ jobs, started finding shortcuts
a DIY pop-up host, 6 years: hosted DIY events to enjoy time with friends beyond consumerism
a festival organizer, 3 years: co-organized impact festivals professionally, music festivals privately
a workshop facilitator, 4 years: opened spaces for deep listening for 80+ participants
an experience designer, 2 years: created immersive experiences with 10+ artists and techies
a supportive friend, 25 years (still counting): scheduled trips to be there for friends in need
a learning entrepreneur, 4 years (still counting): building a business from scratch as a solopreneur
a content creator, 4 years (still counting): started writing articles and video content to spread ideas
an imperfect human being, 31 years (still counting): still learning to be kind with my mind and love my human messiness
For some these paths can look chaotic.
I myself have doubted my purpose, as usually the way forward is foggy.
Until I realised - I always had a purpose.
In fact, I now see MULTIPLE PURPOSES, embedded in my parallel lives.
My definition of PUPROSE?
The sum of my BELIEFS, VALUES and ACTIONS aligned.
Yet, you will sense it is there as a FEELING rather than a logical thought.
It was the LIVES that offered a PURPOSE to me, not vice versa.
Some lives put obstacles in front of me to teach me to be persistent.
Others led me to closed doors to train my intuition.
Some burned my ambitions to make me humble.
Others offered me real connection to teach me empathy.
Yet, ALL of them had the PURPOSE to shape the person I am today.
If you notice, the way I evaluate achievements also changed over time.
It shifted from chasing medals towards a sense of inner growth and content.
A few lives I made public, many were kept private.
We all try to shield our vulnerabilities from public criticism.
Yet, I now know that ALL of our needs deserve space to breathe.
And we are the ones responsible to take care of that.
In 30 years, I have learned that my best mentors are my Past and my Future self.
I try not let THEM down, caring less and less about what others think.
Most importantly - I want to leave you with this:
I didn´t FIND Purpose. I LIVE WITH Purpose.
If you are someone chasing it, stop searching and start living it.
It is there for you at work, at home, at the fitness, in nature.
It is there when you burn for a topic or get energized by an activity.
It is also there when you sense the path you are on is not right for you.
It waits patiently for you to pay attention to what matters.
Purpose lurks around each and every corner.