ThirtySomething or ThirtyNothing?

It's been 20 years since the hit show thirtysomething used to have me on the couch dreaming of the day I would be old enough to have that successful thirtysomething life. (Though for some reason, at the age of 13, I related most to Melanie Mayron's flaky redhead character, Melissa.)

From Thursday's Globe and Mail comes an article questioning whether the Me Generation measures up to the thirty-somethings portrayed on the show. "If a show with the same title were made today, it is a fairly good bet that excess would not be an issue. Few of the characters would be married, many would work as Web designers or graphic artists, they would all be renting condos, and at least one would be considering freezing her eggs for future in vitro fertilization."

Wow, we really have come a long way -- but that description doesn't sound very flattering. At freshly 33, I fit the profile somewhat. I do work in "online" and until recently, I rented. (Though we preferred duplexes to condos.) But although I am married and fertile, it doesn't take more than a quick look around to see I'm in the minority amongst my friends.

Many of us in our thirties feel we are not where we thought we would be at this age. I've written about this same topic being discussed on Oprah before, and it continues to fascinate me. I talk about this frequently with my husband. We both agree that we "played" too much in our 20s and should have focussed a bit more on our careers, so that we would be in a better financial position now that we have kids and want to take time off to be with them. We spent a lot of money on trips and weekend benders, instead of saving up for a house. Now we're stuck with a teeny two-bedroom, (a tight squeeze with the growing family,) praying that interest rates don't go up too high.

I drive a 20-something home from work on occasion. She recently turned 25 and said to me, "I don't know what it is, but I'm not really interested in settling down just yet."I turned to her and, with all the coolness I could muster, said, "I don't give advice, but I am going to give you some now. There are two things that get significantly more difficult the longer you wait: getting ahead in your career and finding a life partner. Having spent so much time on your own by your thirties, it will be that much harder to meet someone halfway, to find that person that fits in with your life, the way you like to do things. Assuming you find that person and decide to have a family, trying to climb the career ladder when you're dealing with colds and teething and driving to and from school -- well, that is one big mountain to climb. Don't wait too long."

While I don't regret the fun and experiences I had in my twenties, I realize now that I felt I could do it all. It was a myth presented to me by the media perhaps. Or maybe I just didn't want to look around me at those who were older and see the truth. That trying to get the man, the mortgage, the family and the job in your thirties, while not impossible, is considerably more difficult. It was easier to think that the man and the job would come eventually, magically, just like on TV.

While so many of our generation feel strongly about the "I don't need a man to make me happy" sentiment (including yours truly) I'm glad that my old fashioned, middle eastern parents always reinforced their desire for me to get married. Being the eldest and eager to please, their goal to marry me off became a desirable thing for me too. (Though we often fought over their need to use community matchmakers and the fact that my independent streak would detract "good Armenian boys" from wanting to marry me.)

I didn't marry the man they would have wanted for me, but I married the love of my life. I see now that being a mere 26 when I left home as Mrs. Silverthorne was an advantage. My husband and I experienced the final stages of our adultessence together. We made the mistakes of our mid to late 20s together. We grew painfully into adults together -- and survived. Had we come out of our quarter-life-crisis separately, as two fully-formed adults, I don't think we could have handled the sacrifice of meeting the other halfway.

It's something that this next crop of 20-somethings should consider.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.