Sunday, August 22, 2010
Slow and Steady
Keep Calm and Carry On.
It was a marketing theme thought up by the British government during World War II, only to be used in the event of an invasion. The idea relied on the notion that if a country of scared and threatened people could somehow stay focused and collected during the worst of it, they'd come out victors in the end.
I find some similar themes among my 30-something friends.
Had a great conversation with a 40-something colleague last week about how the midlife crisis is actually happening much earlier for 30-somethings. Whereas our parents and previous generations got married in their early 20s, had children, bought homes and climbed up the professional ladder - only to be a person they didn't recognize and in a place they didn't anticipate - many of us 30-somethings are putting off marriage, children and the whole kit and caboodle.
We're tossing the idea of the nuclear family on its ear and choosing instead to nurture interests, bring aspirations to fruition and become more self-actualized.
This dynamic directly complements generational studies that show Gen Xers would rather have more free time and less money. We Xers crave balance and meaning in our lives, and if that means doing away with traditional constructs, so be it.
Modern day 30-somethings are staring in the face of reality. We are questioning, no, challenging the expectations of a previous era. And so we are giving up our starter marriages, prolonging marriage or toying with the idea of doing away with marriage all together.
Some of us (likely, more of us, too) are eschewing the idea of family and children, in part because of these aspirations for discovery, but also because we are all too aware of the economic hardships our generation will bear in years to come.
Others are delaying the idea of having children, choosing instead to buy bassinets and car seats and breast pumps in our late 30s or early 40s. Thanks to the advances of modern medicine, and the more widely accepted philosophy that one does not have to share genetic code with a child to be considered family, we are inseminating, finding surrogates, adopting and otherwise bending the boundaries of parenthood.
This presents an interesting and sometimes challenging dynamic.
This quest for personal destiny does not jive with Mother Nature's schedule. While women bear the burden of biology where birthing babies is concerned, both man and woman age in similar ways, and so keeping up with a toddler is possibly a greater challenge for both sexes at 40 or 50 or even 60 than it is in one's teens and 20s.
This is the conundrum that keeps me up at night.
I am so torn. My 30s have been a miraculous gift of letting the dust settle after my raucous and irresponsible 20s. I am now more financially solvent, more disciplined and more genuine with myself and others.
This decade has become an opportunity to find my truest self - a discovery that still reveals itself.
That said, I am a bit terrified I won't settle down and couple up in time to meet the deadline of my youth.
Simply put: Sometimes I worry that by moving up my midlife crisis to my 30s, I might miss out on what this decade was supposed to be about in the first place.
My body and my spirit are at war with each other, and the only thing I can do is keep calm and carry on.
Because, no matter which side wins, I will have to live with the consequences and come out a victor in the end.
Kate's Random Musings by Kate the Great is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.