Interdependence: A Better Business Plan for Our Thirties

Last year when I turned thirty, I had an idea that I was going to like this new decade, but at the time it was just a thought, perhaps an optimistic wish. After all, when my mom said, as only a mom can, “Thirty’s going to be your year, honey,” I was pretty sure she was hoping I’d meet Mr. Right and start working on her grandbabies. That, unfortunately, didn’t happen, but in many ways thirty was my year. At thirty I was able to travel and study abroad, something I never had the guts or money to do in my twenties. I also completed a novel and stopped seeing writing as a hobby or a dream and started accepting it as a part of who I am equal to my teaching career, even if it’ll never pay the bills as teaching does.

So now at thirty-one, I could wonder what’s left (other than the whole Mr. Right and grandbabies task). Or I could worry that what the rest of my thirties has to offer won’t be as exciting. I’m doing neither. Because I’m facing my thirties armed with a decade’s worth of wisdom and experience I didn’t have for my twenties-funny how that happens, huh?

In my twenties I was all about proving my independence. College degrees: check. Home-ownership: check. Knowledge of small power tools after accepting the males in my family weren’t much help: sorry, guys, but check. Despite all the support I had available to me, I wanted to do as much on my own as possible. I was my own woman, an adult, capable of holding the door for myself, making my own decisions, and making my own mistakes, thank you very much. And being too independent to ask for help and advice at times, I made a few good ones, like putting grad school on my credit cards, which seemed so smart when zero-interest offers were as plentiful as shady mortgages. Ah, the good ole days. Luckily, our past mistakes offer some guidance for the present.

By our thirties most of us are getting settled in a career. We’re living on our own, though perhaps still close enough to sneak a load of laundry and a home-cooked meal every now and then. We’ve proven, mostly to ourselves, we can make it on our own. But hopefully we’re smart enough to realize we don’t have to, and sometimes it’s better if we don’t. Just because I’ve figured out a way to clasp my bracelets without help (scotch tape one end to your arm), doesn’t mean I wouldn’t appreciate having a friend or significant other do it for me. And sure, it’s comforting knowing I can confidently make important decisions for myself, but it’s more so knowing I have the supportive ear of family and friends, whose advice I’ve learned to appreciate, whether or not I choose to take it. This is the decade of our lives when we can choose our friends based on common interests and values, not because we were tossed into a dorm with them. We’ll meet life partners, start families. Our teens and twenties were about discovering ourselves, and that was important, but now it’s time to appreciate others in our lives.

While I’m not about to foreclose on my independence in my thirties, I am hopefully wise enough to accept interdependence is a better business plan. I don’t even need millions in tax-payer’s bailouts to help me reform, though now that I’m all about accepting help, I wouldn’t say no to someone paying off that grad-school debt.