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Thirtysomething to thirtynothing
The Globe and Mail ^ | 7/12/07 | Siri Agrell

Posted on 07/13/2007 7:40:11 AM PDT by qam1

Imagine a television show that revolves around a group of married men and women. They run their own advertising agencies, raise kids in suburban homes, argue about who should do the dishes and obsess about whether to have affairs.

They are also just past their 30th birthdays.

When the show Thirtysomething made its debut 20 years ago, in September, 1987, the hour-long drama was praised for its realistic portrayal of angst among then-30-year-old members of the baby boom generation, with characters who bemoaned the impact of always having "too much."

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.

In the course of 20 years, Thirtysomething has been reduced to Thirtynothing, as the members of the generation currently approaching their fourth decade of life realize they have achieved few of the trappings associated with adulthood.

"We live in this era of a delayed adolescence, but it should be over at 30," said Oonagh Duncan, whose play Talk Thirty To Me is currently showing at the Toronto Fringe Festival.

"Everyone's coming to grips with the fact that they're an adult, but it's not what they thought being an adult would feel like."

Ms. Duncan decided to write the play while struggling to deal with her own 30th birthday, a milestone that sent her into a tailspin of reflection and self-doubt.

Hoping to discover that she was not alone, she interviewed an array of Canadian 29-year-olds.

All of them admitted they were having trouble reconciling where they were in life with where they thought they should be.

"I thought that I would know what I was doing," one man told her. "That the experimentation would be over."

"I just changed careers, went back to school," another said. "Got no house, no wife, no kids, no car and 71 cents in my bank account. Not where I thought I'd be at 30 if you asked me when I was 20."

During the play, Ms. Duncan intersperses these confessionals with figures from Statistics Canada, which flash on a screen on stage: "The average 30-year-old has had 7.5 jobs," "has an average income of $29,013," and carries "between $1,500 and $19,200 of debt."

These numbers help to give context to her own fears, she said, but also to show her generation - and their parents - that age-related disappointment is not unusual.

"Everyone talked about how they were broke and don't have a family yet and their parents think they're a screw-up," she said of her subjects. "The expectations of 30 have not really changed. Everyone says, 'Where's my picket fence and RRSP?' but they all just got out of school."

Jean Twenge, a psychology professor at San Diego State University, explored the root of this conflict in her new book, Generation Me: Why Today's Young Americans are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled - and More Miserable Than Ever Before.

In it, she uses three decades of psychological surveys to compare the assets, personalities and priorities of the baby boom generation when they were in their late 20s with those of a group she calls "Generation Me," men and women born in the 1970s and early 1980s.

The latter group, she found, have higher self-esteem, assertiveness and narcissistic tendencies, but also report higher anxiety levels and are more likely to suffer depression.

Ms. Twenge, who is 35 and considers herself part of Generation Me, understands this profile, saying people her age were encouraged to be individuals without thinking about where it may lead them.

"We grew up in a world where we could take it for granted that the self came first," she said. "The downside is that a lot of people spend their 20s doing things they think will make them happy, but end up lonely and depressed."

Part of the problem, she believes, is the chasm between where her generation finds itself today and the lifestyle their parents had achieved by 30.

"Most parents bought their house in 1968 for $65,000, but it would go for $800,000 today, so they don't really get how hard it is to get by," Ms. Twenge said. "At the same time, they are very rightly pointing out, 'Look, you're not putting down roots, you're not making any commitments, what are you going to do when you hit 30 and you haven't held a job for longer than a year?' "

But the priorities of today's thirtysomethings have little to do with those of their parents.

A Pew Research Center poll released in January showed that 81 per cent of 25-year-olds in the United States said getting rich is their generation's most important life goal. Fifty-one per cent said the same thing about getting famous.

While researching her play, Ms. Duncan was told by several straight-faced subjects that they had expected to be a movie star or millionaire by age 30. Others seemed genuinely upset they had not become legends by their late 20s.

"I always thought I would die at 27," one woman named Kendra said. "I never pictured myself older than 27, so on my 28th birthday, I was like, 'Wow, here I am. I didn't really make plans for this.' "

Mike Gayle, the British author of the angst-filled novel Turning Thirty, admits on his website that he actually expected to marry Madonna by the time he hit the big 3-0.

"I've lost count of the number of times I've read interviews where some twentysomething celebrity begins a sentence with the words: 'By the time I'm 30 ...' then reels off a long list of things they hope to achieve," he wrote on his blog. "I think we've all done that at some point."

Ms. Twenge said the tendency to dream big is not new, but lasts longer with today's young adults. "Kids in the 1930s dreamed of being baseball players, but reality intruded a lot sooner," she said. "Now we grow up thinking we're going to be rich and famous, and when we hit 30 and that hasn't happened yet, we wonder what's going on."

That reality can send many people into what has been dubbed a "quarter-life crisis," something New York journalist Doree Lewak is trying to avoid while researching her book, The Panic Years: A Survival Guide to Getting Through Them and Getting on Your Married Way, to be released next year.

"Thirty is the first birthday in our lives when we really start to take stock of where we are and where we should be," the 27-year-old said recently.

For her, the panic is related to the personal aspects of her life, not the professional.

A successful journalist and published author, Ms. Lewak said that she had concentrated so fiercely on success in her work that she delayed settling down and having kids, the ultimate measure of success in her parents' eyes.

On her past birthday, she received a gift certificate for a dating service.

"All these subtle hints from your loved ones really help," she said. "There's a tremendous pressure from family, I call it panic by proxy."

But while Ms. Lewak believes there are ways to remain calm in the face of 30, she says the anxiety is really just a part of being raised with sky-high expectations.

"It just comes down to wanting it all."


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Extended News
KEYWORDS: allaboutme; babyboomers; genx; growupalready; psychology
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To: CompSciGuy

“Its to realize what you do have and if you aren’t satisfied change it”

good point.
Are they going to whine for another 10 years and still be full of angst at 40?

Or will they get busy and shape up?


51 posted on 07/13/2007 12:20:02 PM PDT by Scotswife
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To: qam1

The important thing in life is to be holy. Nothing else really matters.


52 posted on 07/13/2007 12:24:50 PM PDT by Aquinasfan (When you find "Sola Scriptura" in the Bible, let me know)
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To: Smogger
Uh.. So the price of a starter house is 12 times as much since 68, but wages have what? Doubled?

Stop ruining the hatefest with facts. Things are easier and cheaper now and the Xers are just lazy. No facts needed. The boomers here have proclaimed it fact, and thus, it is so.
53 posted on 07/13/2007 12:29:08 PM PDT by mysterio
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To: Scotswife

What’s sad is that most people think only of this life and not plan for their eternity...”For what shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his soul”...I am first and foremost the child of the king of kings and my inheritance isn’t here on earth. I work as an Office Admin and make good money for a non-college grad, almost as much as my husband who is a graduate teacher (he teaches in a private Christian school so he makes less than a public school teacher). My two young adult children are a blessing and my parents are still alive and working in their mid 70s. So, I am extremely thankful to God, to my parents, to my husband, to my kids for such a blessed life. My job is another story (every hear of KKR/GMAC or Barbarians at the Gate? - that job ended in May) thankfully I do have a new job and that’s going ok...


54 posted on 07/13/2007 12:35:28 PM PDT by princess leah
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To: princess leah

“So, I am extremely thankful to God, to my parents, to my husband, to my kids for such a blessed life.”

And that is the key right there.

We can already see that fame and money do not make for a happy life or else Hollywood would be full of happy well-adjusted folks.

Take a look around - how many gifts have already been given to all of us?

If we were to die tomorrow -what would we be thankful for today?


55 posted on 07/13/2007 12:40:36 PM PDT by Scotswife
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To: Scotswife

That’s different - I’d probably have had more kids after the first three if I hadn’t married the wicked witch of the south.


56 posted on 07/13/2007 12:55:37 PM PDT by Frapster (Arrrgghhh - hands off me booty, mate!)
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To: Frapster

” I’d probably have had more kids after the first three if I hadn’t married the wicked witch of the south.”

Sorry to hear that?
Did she become “wicked” before or after the kids?


57 posted on 07/13/2007 1:02:15 PM PDT by Scotswife
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To: Ancient Drive
I think this has something to do with the fact they aren't married. I got married when I was 22 years old. I'm 34 now and I never went thought the angst, etc. these folks are going through. I've been married for nearly 12 years (to the same man), have had the same job for nearly 9 years and when I was 30 years old, I was making more than $25k a year. I also bought a house 7 years ago.

I'm not rich but my life is comfortable and there's something to be said for having someone to share burdens and unfortunate events with.

58 posted on 07/13/2007 1:07:10 PM PDT by Tamar1973 (Riding the Korean Wave, one BYJ movie at a time! (http://www.byj.co.kr))
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To: qam1
Where to begin, where to begin?

"We live in this era of a delayed adolescence, but it should be over at 30,"

IMO, that's part of the problem. We live in a world of delayed adolescence.
Used to be, unless your parents were well off, you put yourself through college, or got a job.
You were pretty much on your own at the age of 18, one way or another.
You might have been in college but probably not living at home, or you might have a job and living in an apartment, but not living at home. The thing was, you weren't living at home.

"We grew up in a world where we could take it for granted that the self came first,"

Ahh, another part of the problem.
Self should rarely come first.
For me, family comes way before self. That's just the way almost our entire family was raised from both sets of grandparents on down.
Self was way down on the list.

A Pew Research Center poll released in January showed that 81 per cent of 25-year-olds in the United States said getting rich is their generation's most important life goal. Fifty-one per cent said the same thing about getting famous.

Another part of the problem.
I'm not sure about my generation but my goal by the time I was 30 was to have a family, be self-sufficent, and be able to help others in my family should they need it.
Did I dream about being rich and/or famous? Sure, but it wasn't a goal.

"Thirty is the first birthday in our lives when we really start to take stock of where we are and where we should be," the 27-year-old said recently.

Maybe I'm just different but 16 was the first time I took stock and 21 was the next time.
By the time I was 30 I had taken stock about 3 times.
I've taken stock twice since then and am due to take stock again in the next 3 years.
If you don't take stock, products begin disappearing. ;^)

59 posted on 07/13/2007 1:22:36 PM PDT by Just another Joe (Warning: FReeping can be addictive and helpful to your mental health)
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To: Scotswife

long story - worst mistake of my life. let’s just say I was 25, she was 30, I was naieve, she was newly divorced with a young daughter - I thought I was her knight in shining armor... I don’t remember much after that.


60 posted on 07/13/2007 1:29:51 PM PDT by Frapster (Arrrgghhh - hands off me booty, mate!)
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To: wideawake

LOL

I’m 35. . married 15 years (16 in Sept), have 12 year old twins, hubby has a serious career (since I was home being a mommy), we own a home . . . and well NOW we have student loans because I’m graduating in August! *laugh*

But yeah, you can do it. I turned 35 in May, hubby turned 36. We got our house right at 30, had the twins at 22/23 . . . hubby is published actually (one book just published today! *dances*)

There are a lot of us — there are just as many if not more though that are just as described.


61 posted on 07/13/2007 1:30:14 PM PDT by twinzmommy
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To: Frapster

” I don’t remember much after that.”

It’s probably better that way :)


62 posted on 07/13/2007 2:36:18 PM PDT by Scotswife
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To: qam1
When I was in my early twenties, I lived in Chicago for a while.

It was shocking how many people acted like I did in college well into their 30’s. It felt weird being out with a group of people older than me who kept acting like they did in high school.

Many today don’t want to grow up, and have unrealistic expectations.

63 posted on 07/13/2007 3:23:09 PM PDT by redgolum ("God is dead" -- Nietzsche. "Nietzsche is dead" -- God.)
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To: Drew68

“I did finally come to the realization that I’ll never be a rock star.”

That’s a great first step. Now you have to get to where you realize that, if you had become a rock star, you would have hated it.

Third and final step: play your instrument anyway.


64 posted on 07/13/2007 4:29:29 PM PDT by CaliGirlGodHelpMe
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To: CaliGirlGodHelpMe
Third and final step: play your instrument anyway

Funny you should mention that...

Now that I have a real job and a somewhat disposable income, I have purchased the dream gear I always wanted when I was younger --a Gibson Les Paul and a Marshall tube amplifier. Now, I know these two pieces of gear will never see a lighted stage, nonetheless, they are what I've already wanted.

For me, playing my guitar is stress relief. Believe me, when my wife grabs her purse and heads to the mall, I look at my watch and count off five minutes. Then the Marshall gets turned on (gotta let those tubes warm up) and the Les Paul gets plugged in. I tap my wah pedal and wail away in thundering bliss.

And in those moments, in my solitude, I am a rock star! :-)

65 posted on 07/13/2007 4:58:45 PM PDT by Drew68
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To: Drew68

Sweet.


66 posted on 07/13/2007 5:57:37 PM PDT by CaliGirlGodHelpMe
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To: qam1
"Most parents bought their house in 1968 for $65,000, but it would go for $800,000 today, so they don't really get how hard it is to get by," Ms. Twenge said. "

What Ms. Twenge doesn't seem to understand is that those parents knew what delayed gratification meant. They didn't go out and buy a hugh house using BOTH incomes, if both were even working. They got by on what they made without getting too far over their heads in debt. Nowadays, young people expect to immediately have the lifestyle to which their parents have gotten them accustomed.

I wonder how many of the young adults surveyed actually paid for their own college, or took out loans to do so. It seems to me that those who are more directly responsible for their education, are more responsible and less likely to fool around after getting out of college. They also make more responsible choices in their education plans in order to provide for themselves when they begin a career.

67 posted on 07/13/2007 6:12:03 PM PDT by SuziQ
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To: GeorgefromGeorgia
“By the time you are 35, you should have accumulated some savings. Many people live above their means, and prefer to spend $4 on a cup of coffee at Starbucks when the coffee at McDonalds is better (per taste test). Also, I know people that don’t save, but eat out every evening, buy new cars every couple of years, etc.”

This is one reason I’m so sick of young people bitching that they have no health insurance. Stay home one or 2 nights a month and you’ll be able to afford it! A couple of nights (one night for many) away from dining out and partying can pay for 1 month of insurance. Being irresponsible is a choice, and unfortunately, you and I end up paying for it.

68 posted on 07/13/2007 6:24:01 PM PDT by peggybac (Tolerance is the virtue of believing in nothing)
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To: qam1

Geez, I must be the odd man out regarding the something generation.

Had the same job for the last 11 years... and worked my way up the promotion ladder.

(Of course, there are some drawbacks, like frequent moves overseas, but hey. Nothings perfect.)


69 posted on 07/14/2007 6:13:37 AM PDT by gogogodzilla (Republicans only win if they are conservative.)
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To: Fairview

“Not many thirty-somethings have an income sufficient to buy a house like that near the place they grew up.”

Not many thirty-somethings have an income remotely corresponding to their parents’ back in the day, or a taxation level as low as their parents’ level of taxation, when you get right down to it. Young Americans are poorer compared to the prior generation, and our labor is worth far less with a global market to compete with.

But that’s all whining, of course, because none of it is true. /sarc

On the plus side, at least consumer goods like food and electronic crap and cars are significantly cheaper.


70 posted on 07/14/2007 7:14:38 PM PDT by LibertarianInExile ("What a cruel reflection that a rich country cannot long be a free one." --Thomas Jefferson)
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To: qam1
"Most parents bought their house in 1968 for $65,000, but it would go for $800,000 today, so they don't really get how hard it is to get by," Ms. Twenge said."

Like hell. And it sounds like Twenge is clueless about a lot of things, but the nature of money and real estate is high up on the list.
71 posted on 07/14/2007 7:20:01 PM PDT by Freedom4US
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To: Freedom4US
Like hell. And it sounds like Twenge is clueless about a lot of things, but the nature of money and real estate is high up on the list.

Perhaps you would care to elaborate on your views in a way that is more linear and clear than merely saying that this lady is clueless? Let me draw your attention to my post 16 in which I believe I make it clear that I could not afford to buy my childhood home today, even though Mr. Fairview is pretty successful.

72 posted on 07/14/2007 9:33:33 PM PDT by Fairview ( Everybody is somebody else's weirdo.)
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To: CompSciGuy
I’m a Gen X’er and although my twenties didn’t go as planned, my thirties are one heck of a great run (and I still have more years to go).

I wrote something about this the other day, but when I was in my mid-20s, I met a mentally challenged young man while we were working for Wal-Mart. I knew at the time that once my certifications came through (tied up in the bureaucracy at the time), I would be moving on to bigger and better things, though I was feeling pretty sorry for myself with a new college degree and working at Wal-Mart in the meantime.

He, on the other hand, knew that he was working to the fullest of his potential and that he would never be able to handle a job any more challenging than janitor. And yet, he was determined to be the best janitor that Wal-Mart had. He had an enthusiasm for performing his job to the very best of his abilities.

He was and still is an inspiration to me. When I get discouraged about how my life might have turned out differently and possibly better, I remember how he took what life had handed him and through sheer force of will decided to make the best of it.

73 posted on 07/14/2007 9:42:05 PM PDT by Stegall Tx (Again, thanks Danny for being an inspiration.)
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To: Kevmo
From Acronymfinder.com

I didn't really think "they" were referring to a Rolls Royce Silver Phantom.

74 posted on 07/14/2007 9:42:26 PM PDT by Professional Engineer (Speak softly and leave a giant carbon footprint! Oh, go burn the trash while you're at it.)
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To: wideawake

I’m there with you except for the school loans and the kids. As soon as I paid off my college loans my wife went to grad school. Man, grad School is expensive.


75 posted on 07/18/2007 12:47:29 PM PDT by Conservomax (There are no solutions, only trade-offs.)
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