The essence of being human, is anxiety about being human. We exist and as a result we are anxious. That existence is complex and uncertain and just like anything else that exists, we question its purpose. Thus, our innate need to question our own existence is expected. It’s so messed up, right?
As a child you’re less aware of that question, but as you grow into an adult, with a whole new smorgasbord of worry sandwiches to ram down your throat, things can get a little tough. Student loans, choosing your ‘direction’, identifying who ‘you’ are, mortgages, job after job after job, money money money and watching the world go by, can all be overwhelming and in turn pose the question, ‘what am I even doing here?’
I hoped that when I reached 30 my perspective would change and I’d be more certain of myself, my abilities and my trajectory in life. I’m not. I haven’t got a clue what is in store for me and as someone who plans every day in a diary, that is terrifying. A friend recently asked me, over dinner, “where do you see yourself in 5 years?” and I imagined throwing my drink in their face to distract from the fact that I do not have an answer for that (other than a sad face and shrug). Where do YOU see YOURSELF in 5 years Susan? I don’t actually have a friend called Susan.
From the many existential crises we all go through and the countless environmental factors impacting our ability to see ourselves for what and who we really are, it’s unfortunate that it’s not always the case that you become more confident and self assured as you age. I didn’t see myself where I am now, five years ago. I have a great job (I didn’t see that coming). I get to travel, meet interesting and successful people, work with an inspiring and driven team and see a business grow everyday. The problem is, as time goes on I feel less confident in myself, contrary to what others tell me. I doubt myself more than I ever did before. It’s an odd sensation… to regress like that. I figured it was just me. No, apparently this is actually a thing!
From what I can gather it’s fairly common for people in their thirties to go through a phase of self doubt and I guess in some ways, it could be linked to existentialism. It could also be influenced by mounting pressures from homeownership, general aging and seeing changes in the lives of friends, such as marriage and parenthood. The reason I think it is, potentially, a combination of numerous factors, is because it impacts other parts of my life too. Even writing this post, I’ve stopped three or four times in the past 30 minutes to question why I’m writing it, who is going to read it and if it’s actually just bullsh*t. I feel less confident physically too. I go to the gym and I feel, for want of a better phrase, half the man I did 2 years ago. I question my ability to reach my fitness goals and if it’s even worth trying to achieve them. Will I be two years older, four, maybe six before I do? Then what, I’m nearly forty and I haven’t considered the cost of ‘forty’ therapy yet!
I’m not going to turn this post into a solution, because I don’t have one. I’m not there yet. I will be (if I don’t question myself too much on route) and when I am I will share it with you. For now, I can only read accounts by others and hope that someone else has a solution or at least a timeline for when this expires. For now though, you’ll need to accept this as a rambling introductory account of a 31 year old’s growing self doubt and anxiety over existing. More to come…
I’d love to hear from you if you doubt yourself at a time in your life you didn’t think you would, and if you’ve discovered ways to take control of your adulthood so I can
steal borrow and share. This is of course NOT restricted to people 30+.