A “life crisis” is when you realise that you are not your life role. “Normal” is when you pretend you didn’t see it and keep acting. But cowardice comes at a price.
The thirties (or quarter-life) crisis is when you are growing up and realise that your decisions have all been made for you. Worse even, you don’t have the courage to say no. You don’t want that responsibility. You never stop and think – and it comes at a price.
20 things you pay for during your thirties crisis:
1. That right-swipe frenzy on Tinder
…to prove yourself that you are still young and alive.
People you dismiss for “funny” rules you’ve just made up as if you were a sitcom character:
“She ate her peas one at a time.”
And, of course, you will be dismissed for no obvious reason.
You drink around two dozen lattes you would never have bought otherwise. (That’s 4800 calories plus sugar, syrup, fake sugars, and muffins.) You undergo half a dozen dinners when you order to impress, not to eat. Countless drinks in noisy bars and clubs you would rather have avoided but you think pubs are the only place you can legitimately talk to other people.
2. Costly signalling
In the animal kingdom costly signalling is the peacock’s plumage. For you, it’s stuff that leaves you financially crippled but is meant to attract mates, who wouldn’t come otherwise. Watches, brand name shirts. Shoes he had never noticed. Make-up he likes you better without.
3. Trips to make better profile pics.
Look for the photo-op. Share. Compare. Repeat.
4. Chasing that promotion…
…so that you can afford those hobbies and trips. Your boss’s watch and pro biking gear.
5. 200 condoms and a bucketful of birth control pills
…and weekly pregnancy tests. Just to be safe.
Bad sex, because there’s rarely enough time to learn each other (see #1).
6. That medical check-up
…because you thought you had a heart attack. And the medications for panic.
Where you pay someone to tell you that’s normal. They do. You learn that your panic is a stupid frenzy. You whip yourself into running – but you don’t know where to.
But you don’t stop to think. You’ve paid for the therapy, let that be enough.
I could tell you that it is not unavoidable, it is not “life”, it could be done differently. For free. But you wouldn’t listen. Because it’s free. And because you’re deaf.
8. Dating that person,
…who doesn’t move you but fits the bill of a Desirable Partner and all your friends envy. Or so you think.
Casting people instead of getting to know them.
“Who is this?”
“Is it the sexy, well-off, ambitious and approved person with the right genes to co-parent the child I need to produce ASAP?”
9. That year of frenzied travel and program-planning together right before the baby
…because you need to prove that you are alive and not boring. Three more festivals that you don’t enjoy and would only remember the prices.
The ultimate status symbol: that baby seat in your boss’s 4×4.
10. Meeting the parents
You’re right. It’s about them, not you. Your relationship is theirs taste and judge.
But their approval brings relief and relief is scarce these days.
11. That distasteful, expensive wedding.
The most expensive day of your life, when she is dressed like the Disney princess that imprinted on her brain when she was little, and he cannot resist making that “funny” dance now that attention is his. For a day.
Your outfit is coordinated with the curtains. What does it tell about you? The bows on the chairs get more attention that the tension with your best friends. They have to suffer for your big day, buy a new suit and wear a dress that goes with the napkins.
Fake smiles on the “professional”, bokeh-heavy photoshoot everyone thinks is awkward. Painful price tags on pretentious things you will regret paying for.
You could look good for years on the money you wasted on clownish make-up and a stupid dress. Sorry, The Dress. You’ll spend those years in your yoga pants.
12. That awful first marriage.
When you adopt the role you are assigned, while you swear you’ll do it differently. Sure.
13. That mortgage.
That was too early or too expensive but you had to have space for a baby and guests coming over like adults do.
14. IKEA overdose
Moving. Sharing. Dividing. Getting used to.
As if people living in their own space was an anomaly you had to avoid at all cost.
Either no one dares to say no and you overspend, or you start bickering over money.
15. The baby-project.
Monthly ovulation tests, unwanted sex and more weekly pregnancy tests.
“Is it happening already? It is supposed to happen NOW!”
Fertility treatment is optional. Because statistics. Anyone can recite them.
Slow swimmers float to the forefront to your consciousness. You call it evolution and envision yourself as a life form that’s driven by the urge to reproduce.
Are you a failure?
16. Raising that poor child,
…who has to suffer because you didn’t ask yourself: Do I want children? Do I want them now? Do I have the partner I could do it with? Is that partner on the same page?
Or you asked yourself, but only accepted ‘yes’ for an answer. Because you were ‘running out of time’.
There’s plenty of time ahead of you now, but it’s filled with bitter fights with the stranger, who is now your legal part.
17. More therapy
Where you try to suppress the surge of regret for not having said ‘no’ while you still could. Because you thought it was too late. Now it is too late.
Dutiful delivery didn’t make the world less demanding. You thought you can have a life “after that”. Now you know there is no “after”.
The panicky sensation that you were duped. They wanted you to make premature commitments – but never any real decisions. You pay your therapist to not to mention being duped. He lets you convince yourself that there’s nothing to be done and you might as well enjoy the ride.
18. More medication.
Because you need to be able to smile during the overtime.
Vitamins and gym. That child and that mortgage won’t pay for themselves.
19. Couple’s therapy
To make you have sex with the person you don’t want. Viagra and lubricants.
But if you really want to cry, start a list of what you haven’t done in the meantime.