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The Wrong Side of 30

Updated on July 2, 2013
Erik Erikson
Erik Erikson | Source

Thirty's The New...DEAD?

When you listen to sports analysts or movie reviewers you might hear the phrase that he or she is "on the wrong side of 30". Now that phrase may hit you soft or hard depending on your age, but do we really know how deep the rabbit hole goes here? I do, and I am going to share my thoughts with you if you'll let me.

Lets find out what "the wrong side of thirty" really means and believe it or not how important we have made it.

The Circle of Life

Above is the photo of a man named Erik Erikson. He was a German-born American developmental psycologist and psychoanalyst known for his theory on the psychological development of human beings. Ladies and gentlemen, this is the man who coined the phrase 'identity crisis'. Just to give you a little history about Erikson, he served as a professor at Harvard and Yale without acquiring even a bachelor's and was an acquaintance of Anna Freud, daughter of Sigmund Freud.

Erikson's interest started in 'Ego Psychology', but I want to skip right ahead to his theory of personality. You see he believed that a child's environment was crucial to providing the ingredients to cook up a person's identity. No I'm not talking about nature vs. nurture here, I'm speaking of both together. He believed that where you're raised and how you're raised will help determine who you are. Some will agree and some will disagree, either way this lead to "Erikson's stages of psychosocial development." That's where I'll start.

Erikson's stages of psychosocial development
Erikson's stages of psychosocial development | Source

Do you think this chart is accurate?

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Young Adulthood: Intimacy vs. Isolation

Take a few moments to look at the chart above if you can. Each column puts so much meaning into so few words. I am sure that after reading the whole thing you will probably have a better understanding of not only life in general, but your life as well.

Now, if you're finished I'd like to concentrate on the Intimacy vs. Isolation section contained in the Young Adulthood portion of the table. If you look at the the ages used here are (19-40), but in my opinion that may be inaccurate when placed in our current society.

For a long time now we have neatly compacted parts of our society and lives into decades. For example: the 70's (hippies, sex, drugs, Rock & Roll), The 80's (big hair, more sex, more powerful drugs, and Rock & Roll, decadence), The 90's(realism, violence, gun culture), etc.

Now look at the way we categorize ages.

We really start after the 'teen' years which we classify as 13-19, then it's onto 20, yes 20...back to decades again.

Whether we like to admit it or not and whether it's fair or not when we get to a certain age we stop looking at people fully as just people, but partially as a man or women in his or her 20's, 30's, 40's, 50's, 60's, etc. Because of this I'd like you to forget about that (19-40) and think of Young Adulthood more of a say 21-40 . So how do we classify our 20's? A long time ago you might have had 3 kids and been through 3 wars by the time you hit 20, but now your 20's are filled with carefree fun and excitement! You don't have much to worry about. Your young enough to still live with your parents and smart enough to spend a few years clowning around until you figure out what genius thing you're going to do to get rich and live a lavish lifestyle. But what happens when you turn 30 and you haven't did that genius thing or you did and it wasn't that genius? What happens when you look back and realize that you can no longer put the word 'twenty' in front of your age anymore, unless you're lying to someone. You know the truth though...

Now lets get in between the sheets and take a look at the big 3-0.

Were Not Young!

Success vs. Failure

If you've made it this far I'm gonna go ahead and assume that you are at least 30 or going to hit that age very soon. If not I'm gonna go ahead and assume that you are smarter than me and you're actually taking the advice of an older person (which is what I should have done).

When someone says that a person is on "the wrong side of 30", they not only mean that they are 31 yrs old and above, but they also mean that they believe this is when all cards are on the table and it's time for you to play your hand. In other words this is the time when the fun should either stop or calm down a bit long enough for you to accomplish your goals in life and ensure a successful future.

Erikson believed that this is the time in a humans life when they "need to form intimate, loving relationships with other people. Success leads to strong relationships , while failure results in loneliness and isolation. This may be why you are trying to impregnate your 25 yr. old girlfriend, while she is trying to run the other way. Sure she thinks about those things, but remember, we taught her that she still has some wiggle room before she hits the big 3-0. Why would she use her ace now when she could hold on to it and use it at just the right time (29 perhaps)?

For all of you on the wrong side of 30 this may all sound a little depressing. Now I could just end it like this, but I am a philosopher....I must look at things from all angles. Maybe we are thinking that we're on the wrong side of 30, but what if we're looking at this from the wrong side?


Highway To The Danger Zone

Put yourself in your shoes in your 20's and look at yourself as you are now...

Those same sports casters that were saying that some athletes are on the wrong side of 30, well they're usually referring to that in the context of a contract situation. Think about it; before signing an athlete into a new deal, many factors come into play. One of the most important is age.

If a guy is good, he's good, but you have to figure out how long he's going to be good. Ironically many athletes are said to be in their prime around the ages of about (30-35). You can thank guys like Wayne Gretzky, Muhammad Ali, and Michael Jordan for that. It used to be closer to 25-29, but these guys defied the odds. For me Jordan changed the game.

He dominated his opponents during that time of his life. Who knows how much longer he could have done it if he didn't bow out gracefully. But again comes the question of how many years do you give an athlete while in the middle of their prime? How much money? No matter how good you are everyone will be waiting to see when you're going to slow down and it will happen. Remember Jordan did come back at around age 40 and had a few jaw dropping games, but those were far and between, and his recovery time, well lets just say his mind and body were no longer one.

The ages 30-35 seem like a short time, but truthfully it is a large window of opportunity and it stays open for as long as you can hold it there. And believe it or not you have a little bit of an advantage on those said to be on the other side of the tracks.

People under 30 are looked at as young and vibrant yes, but also prone to lapses in judgement because of this. Why do you think your car insurance is so high when you're younger and decreases substantially when you get closer to 30? Yes the young hot shot 'maverick' is quicker on his feet and can usually bounce back quicker than you can, but until he gains some of the wisdom you have he will be in a constant battle against his own ego to succeed. Sometimes too much is....well too much.

When you're on the right side of 30, make sure to look across the road, because you only have a limited amount of time before you're standing there on the other side. Don't wait until it's too late and try to rush at the last minute, because I promise you, you might forget something, and you will definitely want to bring some things with you. If you think it'll always be fun in the sun, you won't know what to do when the rain comes pouring down.

When do you think the 'prime' years of your life are?

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Here's a little something for you 40 Year Olds


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    • tHErEDpILL profile imageAUTHOR

      Alem Belton 

      3 years ago from New York

      Glad to hear it. I like your statement, "a new journey". That's exactly what it is. You will see things change like it or not. Good or bad. Thanks for commenting

    • Alyssa Nichol profile image


      3 years ago from Ohio

      Interesting article, a fun read! I'm turning 30 soon, and I'm actually quite excited. I'm ready to leave my 20's behind and embark on a new journey. -That's the dreamer in me.- In truth, I realize that turning 30 isn't going to be the big to do many make it out to be.. in fact, I don't think it will feel that much different. Nevertheless, I'm looking forward to it. :)


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