I don't know about you, but I'm feeling a lot more demands on my time now that I'm well into my thirties and have become a father. My wife, a heart surgeon, would tell you the same, as would millions of other thirty-something working parents out there, I'm sure.
Sometimes it's so crazy busy, you can almost delude yourself into thinking back fondly on your twenties as the "good old days."
Ha! Reality check: my twenties were insane. On top of the pressures of school (and leaving it with a mountain of debt), our twenties are typically a blur of either trying to find gainful employment or starting a business--or several of them.
Your twenties might have meant a ton of partying while you were still resilient enough to recover by the next morning (and if you're still in your twenties, enjoy that--it doesn't last!)
You might have had to change jobs often, or hold down more than one job at a time to make ends meet. More people in their twenties than ever before are living back at home with their parents. Some are already out in the world, raising a family.
Your twenties can turn out a lot of different ways, but they're usually a total whirlwind.
And throughout your twenties, especially as you approach the far end, people will tell you reassuring lies like, "You'll figure it all out in your thirties!" and "Your thirties are when things really come together."
Let me tell you what actually happens in your thirties, friends.
Sleep disappears, if not because of kids then because of hormones, aging, anxiety over being in your thirties, or some other factor. (If you're sleeping well in your thirties, you're a unicorn--high five.)
The pressure to succeed builds. You're working towards promotions. You're building your business. You're trying to be a good member of your family and your community. You've probably accumulated some debt you're trying to hammer down. You're realizing it's really not that far to retirement and you should probably be saving for that, too. (Again, if you started saving in your twenties and never spent it, you're a unicorn. High five!)
And throughout all of this, friends will whisper reassuringly, "Don't worry! Your forties is when it all comes together."
In your forties, the pressure to perform and succeed professionally is greater than ever. If you're raising a family, you might have teenagers at this point... have fun with that! You might have had a health scare by now and are starting to be more concerned about your health and fitness. You could have aging parents to care for. Your house might be a money pit. The kids are going to need money for college. Everyone's so busy at this point, you might only have time to hang out with people you work with, or the parents of your kids' friends.
But it's okay, People Who Know Things say reassuringly, because in your fifties, you'll really figure it out! You're so close to that elusive work-life balance; to having it all.
(Are you sensing the pattern here?)
It was the Queen of Media, Oprah Winfrey, who once said, "You can have it all. Just not all at once."
Have truer words ever been spoken?
Why do we do this to ourselves; why do we perpetuate this myth that we can have it all soon, if only we try a bit harder? You're almost there! Keep fighting the good fight!
That's total crap.
It's actually super liberating to let go of that crazy expectation that one day, you're going to wake up and all the pieces will just fall into place and you'll live the rest of your blessed life out in harmony and perfect balance because "you have it all."
It's never going to happen, and that's okay. Because chances are you will have it all at various points throughout your life, just not all at the same time. We put way too much meaning on this completeness and balance that would supposedly come from having it all, to the extent that it keeps up from being truly appreciative and enjoying what we do have when we have it.
You won't always have your youth.
You may not always be financially stable.
You won't always feel completely loved and in tune with your family.
You won't always succeed in work and business, so let go of those crazy expectations that one day, the stars will align and you'll finally "have it all."
Instead, focus on the areas you're winning at today. Be thankful and enjoy them while they last. Those accomplishments are no less valuable because they're not part of some magical package called "Having It All."