Thursday, August 16, 2012

Keep the Alterations Coming

I’ve been referred to as “an observer.” As in, “life is very hard for an observer, isn’t it dear?” (The “isn’t it dear” and the question mark weren’t part of the original quote. I tossed them in for effect. And for kicks.)

One emerging observation of mine has been that a person’s general life direction tends to be established by the time s/he has hit the 30-35 age bracket, the same way a person’s general personality is thought to be formed by the age of 6. It’s not that people can’t pull a 180 after reaching the mid-thirties mark so much as they often don’t.
I’ve also been referred to as judgmental and too fond of making overgeneralizations, this sort of slander usually coming from people who may be chronologically older than me but whose practical experiences have been less checkered/more homogenous than mine have been. So this life-direction theory has been kept to myself or privately shared with the members of my inner circle. Not everyone can handle it.
Now I got back-up. According to a book that came out earlier this year, The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter – And How to Make the Most of Them Now, “80% of our defining decisions are made before we’re 35, and 70% of lifetime wage growth happens in the 1st 10 years of our careers.”
When I was 21, I turned down a potentially life-altering summer internship because it was unpaid. This was the first in a series of that decade’s defining decisions and life-altering episodes. Every day felt like an experiment. Those are the only kind of days I ever want.
I’m 1 year and 2 months away from 35. My general direction was solidified at 29 or 30, but I’ll be closing out this age bracket with a bang. Same thing with each age bracket that’s still to come.


  1. Fascinating observation! I'd love to know which direction I'm heading in (especially now that I've turned 30). Honestly sometimes, I feel so lost - like i'm just lagging behind everyone else! *sigh*

  2. Am thinking about this...thinking about this. I tend to agree that most of our defining decisions are made before we're 35, yet at the same time I'm having trouble squaring this idea with the fact that most of us change basic fields of employment at least three times in a lifetime. I'm also trying to factor in the role of chance, in the form of both good luck and bad luck. An accident, a death, a marriage, a divorce, a birth...not to mention a weather catastrophe or war. Most people I know in their seventies or above are really rather surprised at how their lives have wound up. Recently a woman I know who has been divorced three times said to me, "How did things get to this point?"

  3. I enjoyed this post--and this is the kind of stuff that roles around my head too. I think this might also be true for our emotional connections, somehow we are wired to feel our childhood experiences more intensely than our adult ones and so on. On the other hand I believe life is ripe with new beginnings, change is constant, and we are always offered the opportunity to redefine ourselves whether we choose to or not.