The Pressure of Turning 30: Can We Talk About a Crisis?

· August 18, 2018

Each vital decade comes with new changes, challenges, and experiences, as well as new obstacles and goals. In this sense, the pressure of turning 30 brings with it many doubts and feelings that we seem to tiptoe around.

We’ve all heard of the famous crisis of turning 40, the “midlife crisis” that was coined by psychologist David Levinson in the 60s to name the vortex of vital questions and conflicting sensations of this important moment in life. Later, psychoanalyst Erikson supported the existence of this crisis, explaining it in terms of vital revision.

Although different authors have disagreed as to what is the reason for this famous crisis, you can say that its existence is a universally accepted phenomenon.

What’s the pressure of turning 30?

However, we can’t lose sight of the pressure of turning 30. Something happens in this vital moment that feeds on social expectations, internal frustrations, and a sense of a “duty to channel life”, which is often unfulfilled. There’s a motivation to achieve stability, which contrasts the desire to nurture the dynamism that characterizes youth. A crossroads, in many cases, that is difficult to manage. And even more so if we take into account that it’s not uncommon for there to be family or social pressures in the mix.

Turning 30 can be difficult.

The closer we get to 30, the more we realize that what we thought was going to be happening when we reached this age was nothing more than a utopia: something that you always assumed would happen for you and that you sometimes see when you look at the lives of other 30-year-olds. You end up comparing yourself to them and feeling more lost. Also, you end up feeling like you haven’t achieved much and that there’s no way to fix the disaster that is your life.

The great pressures of turning 30

In this vital moment, there are different areas that we tend to evaluate. Perceiving that we’ve failed can make us feel frustrated, anxious, or even depressed.


Couple and family life

Erikson also points out the importance of building intimate relationships around the age of 30. He explained the need to create close, reciprocal, and trusting bonds as a source of wellbeing in this moment of life.

In line with what this author said and making a brief reflection of what is socially expected, we can conclude that 30 seems to be a moment in which we should have a partner, family, and future plans… In other words, something stable and safe. Therefore, the absence of a stable relationship, becomes, for many people, a cornerstone of this crisis.

Work and independence

You studied, you dedicated yourself to the job you chose, and you checked under every stone to decide whether you have found what you truly want to be. You stopped looking for a job you’re passionate about and settled, or at least are looking for a way to settle. In addition, you may have even given up and spend every day pretending to be something you’re not. You’re not sure if this is just the crisis you’re feeling by turning 30, bad decisions, or bad luck, but you’re not economically independent and everyone is telling you “It’s time to start buying an apartment”.

A sad 30-year-old man looking out the window.

Change of priorities

This is a time when there’s a big change in terms of priorities. While it’s true that the priorities are more uniform in some ages (like adolescence, when priorities are sports or first loves), with the passage of time, priorities become more personal and situational, which can make us feel far away from people who have always been close to us.

Change of plans

Leisure time tends to be more scarce, responsibilities multiply, and the frequency and characteristics of plans suffer a clear change. It’s possible that we feel more identified with plans involving things we used to do in the past. It may also make you angry to try to make plans that fall on deaf ears. It’s even possible to feel a great sense of emptiness if we perceive that we have no control over the changes. When we don’t act on these feelings, we may feel socially frustrated.

How to manage this moment?

These are some tips to take into account if you’re feeling overwhelmed by your 30s and their pressures.

Look for perspective

So this stage doesn’t create an emotional vulnerability, you should take a step back in search of perspective. Who says that everything needs to happen at a certain time? Other people tend to impose the standards that measure where we should be by age 30, meaning that this doesn’t have to impact us at all.

Maybe the pressure of turning 30 doesn’t have to pressure you at all.

A woman looking out in a field.

Your life, your goals

It’s nice that your neighbor thinks your life is on the right track, but everyone decides their own futures and lives their own lives. People might ask, talk, hint, wait … But other people are other people, and you’re you. And you’re the only person who you spend 24 hours a day with. Seek to meet your own expectations. The pressure of turning 30 won’t last a lifetime… or maybe it will. This depends on you. Value your needs and make your own goals.

Everything may be useful

Despite your effort, desire, and work, there are many things beyond our control. There are walls we don’t have staircases for. However, maybe reaching a certain point can allow us to see things from a different perspective. With each vital stage, we grow. Albert Einstein said that “Darkness is the light that you do not see”.

Join the change

If you’re bothered by changes in your surroundings, maybe it’s time to change something. Change complaints to ideas and criticisms to motivation to change what you don’t like about your life. Maybe it’s time to look for new priorities, find a passion, meet new people, or change your surroundings. Look inside yourself.

30 can bring changes.

In short, value what you have and where it can take you. Most of the time, if you have good health, you’re capable of starting a journey inward and starting to look for new goals or attitude. How people get through the crisis of turning 30 will vary from person to person. Yes, we live in a society that has expectations for us and trying to flee from them may seem like an impossible mission. However, underneath this pressure of turning 30 lies a thousand possibilities for the future. Look for yours!