What Age 30 Deadline?

What, you’re almost 30 and not married?  No kids, house or full time job?

We are no longer alone.

What used to be the natural progression in life (college, job, marriage, baby) is becoming, it appears, a thing of the past.

And the Generation Y-ers (those born from 1980-1995) don’t seem to be worried about it.  And, what’s more,those who do have all these things by age 30 don’t seem to long for what is lost.  What’s going on here?

A couple weeks ago my 8-year-old nephew informed me that one can only get married at age 25 or 30.  Having passed my first marriage cutoff and fast approaching the second I started to wonder where all these deadlines came from.

We’re all supposed to get married and have the house, kids, and full-time job, but WHY?  Who coined these life deadlines and why am I, among others, still worried about them?

I decided to really look at each life expectation and calculate it’s urgency:

MARRIAGE:  Median age at first marriage, about 27.

Well, of course we all, myself included, want to find the one person that we connect with and can’t live without.  Since the beginning of time people have been shacking up in pairs and making lives for themselves.  But I think, as we have evolved as people and a world as a whole, our expectations for our pairs have changed.

Remember way back in the caveman days when the only requirement for a life mate was the ability to carry large sticks to start a fire or, for females, to carry a baby?  It hardly changed throughout the 19th and 20th centuries when it became ideal for a man to work and protect (sticks and fire) while the woman should be able to…. carry a baby. As the millennium rolls along it seems people are wanting (pause for effect) more out of a mate and many of us are willing to wait, even into our 30s, to find him or her.  Then we’ll have our whole lives to be with them forever.

**FYI: With an average life expectancy of 78 years, forever from age 20 is about 58 years..it turns into only 43 years from age 35.  Just sayin.

Conclusion: Marriage–Not urgent.

KIDS: Average age of mother at birth of 1st child–28

Hi, I’m not having kids– if I have kids– until I’m married.  Most people my age would agree.  So that can certainly wait.  I’m only 29 and people are already having babies in their 40s, plus I’m a pretty healthy chick and there are something like 100 ways to have a baby now, right?

Conclusion: Kids–Not urgent.

FULL-TIME JOB: Data not available

Ah, this is my biggest dilemma currently. The ol’ rents worked at a shoe-shop to provide for my sister and I when we were growing up.  I like to think they did that so we wouldn’t have to do the same someday.  And as it stands, I have the luxury to be so completely selfish/independent with my life choices (see above 2 headlines) it’s overwhelming sometimes.  I can literally do and be anything I want (like my parents always told me).  I don’t know if this selfishness is a good or bad thing–many critics say Generation Y is self-indulgent– we wanna have our cake and eat it, too.  (Read: make money AND do what we love).  And maybe I have a completely romanticized idea about my professional life but I want to at least enjoy it, is that so wrong?

I mean, I’m going to spend 40 of my 110-some odd waking hours doing it so I think I shouldn’t want to pull my hair out for that 36.36% of my vertical life.

But, here’s where it gets confusing with the hieroglyphics that a full-time job can bring: 401Ks and IRAs, that’s right.. we have to save for retirement.  I knew there would be a whole responsibility factor, apparently I actually do have one person to look out for right now: my future self.  Someday when I’m old, wrinkly, and unable to walk from years of sports, I’m gonna need to live off my accrued social security.  But even this isn’t a sure thing as the retirement age keeps growing… it seems a full-time job is forever, too, so I might as well take my time finding the right one.

Conclusion: Full-time job, semi-urgent.

A HOUSE: Average age to buy first house–30

Well, I think it’s safe to say this comes after a full-time job.  It also comes after a new, reliable car (though maybe I should get a little creative with a 2-for-1, RV anyone?).

Renting an apartment seems a little pointless since I’m never going to own the thing but hey, it means I’ll never own the insurance, property tax, or 30-year mortgage either…

Conclusion: Not urgent and contingent upon full-time job

After having moved to Portland and in with two like-minded roommates, I have become less and less worried about them.  Millennials are everywhere and, take comfort or take cover, we may no longer be outliers.

Danielle Clark

About Danielle Clark

I am 28 years old and for 5 years out of college I played basketball for a living. I was a professional basketball player in Europe so I spent most of my years there and came back to Maine for summers and a couple weeks at Christmas time. I thought my years there would open my eyes to what I want to be when I "grow up." That didn't happen. I have discovered, however, that I just have to try something. Just do things and toss myself into them. I have currently tossed myself into being a college basketball assistant coach and one on one reading tutor. I grew up in Corinna, Maine and have been a resident Mainer. I love sports, reading, writing, cooking, baking, watching movies... everything. I have lots of hobbies and not enough time in the day!