Betty Staley entitles the chapter about this age range, “Trying to Organize Our Lives,” and discusses how around the age of 28 many of us feel it is time to become more conscious about our lives, our decision-making, our plans and goals for the future.
She talks about for some people how around age 30, some men realize already they are having more physical limitation than in their twenties and some women notice their bodies are changing. I personally was curious about this from the perspective that we are certainly living longer than in the time of Rudolf Steiner, so I wondered how many of you found this to be true. I have heard more women comment to me about their bodies changing and about it being harder to lose weight and such closer to the age of 40 than 30. I wonder also if this is because so many of us are delaying childbearing until our 30s. Please leave a comment in the comment box and share your experience.
Betty Staley writes that there are not only physical changes to be reckoned with, but changes within the way we relate to others. She writes, “The bold confidence of our twenties starts giving way to more sensitive awareness of ourselves. We may no longer be satisfied by just relying on our feelings: we become more inward, perhaps more subdued. It is time to become realistic and practical, to take stock of what are we doing and organize our time.”
She talks about how we use our critical intellect to help us organize things, but how this can also be something that pierces and wounds the people around us as we step back and see more and more faults and imperfections and become cold and critical. We have to work hard in this stage to look not just objectively at others, but also at ourselves. How do we learn to appreciate other people? How do we develop concern and compassion for others that transcends our own feelings of woundedness and loneliness?
The thirties can be a positive time of life as things settle down, become calmer, become more focused. It can be a time to look deep within one’s self at one’s current situation. “There can be a conflict here between our previous dreams and ideals, and present realities. How can we realize both?”
Typically there are no easy answers to this question. Men in particular can have competing desires and wishes. Daniel Levinson writes about the ages of 21-35 being the “Onward and Upward Phase” for men. He writes:
“Fatherhood is not the all-important role in a man’s life. His starring role as he sees it during the Onward and Upward years is that of the promising young man on his way up. He has important tasks to accomplish. He is driven by the need for achievement.”
Betty Staley writes that this can be an age where many friendships break apart, and there can be loneliness. She also writes about the importance of having a mentor and building relationships with friends who have similar values to you. Do you have a mentor in the areas of parenting and homemaking? This could be something important if you are in this age range of 28-35 years.
Rudolf Steiner saw the period of age 30-33 as analogous to the last three years of the life of Jesus Christ, often a period of being in the “valley of the shadow of death.” Perhaps renewal is around the corner if we can progress past the challenges of this phase:
“The great inner challenge during this phase from 28-35 is to transform critical judgment into thoughtful consideration, allowing emotions to ripen into feelings; to take more time to make decisions, and to bring to the light of the mind and warmth of the heart together in a more conscious way.”
This has implications for both marriage and motherhood. For mothers in this age range, Betty Staley writes about the importance of strengthening themselves during this time. She writes of the importance of having private time everyday for “inward activity”. She also writes about the importance of learning how not to use the sharp-edged intellect of this phase to judge our partners and spouses.
She writes on page 130 that we do not need to explain or apologize for the things our spouses do because it is not our place to judge, nor do we know our mate so very well that we need to protect other people from his or her faults. “A point comes in a relationship- and in this case it can be in a close friendship as well as in a marriage – when we let go. We no longer ask, Why am I with this person? We no longer add up the irritations, marking them in some invisible account book. The moment arrives when all that disappears and we acknowledge he is our partner or friend, and accept him totally.”
When people marry in their thirties instead of their twenties, then neither person has formed the other. The ideas and habits of each person are more set, that as partners they tend to respect one another but humor and tolerance are needed. More freedom is needed in some ways. She writes that second marriages often have these characteristics as well. She also talks about the research showing people born after 1966 are tending to study until age 30 or live at home for longer periods, and how this may postpone the entrance into adulthood by ten years.
A very full chapter with lots of food for thought.
Thanks for reading,