Life transitions

Renee posted a blog entry on Transitions earlier today which was pretty thought-provoking for me. I made a lengthly comment on it and thought I’d massage my thoughts into a full blog entry. The gist of her post was about how many of her friends are encountering frustrating and/or confusing transitions in their lives right now. Take a moment to go read it first (but skip the last paragraph, she starts rambling then ;)

One sentence in her post summed up my own thoughts on the matter, emphasis mine:

Could it be that in the past the rapid occurrence of transition[s] made us feel somewhat in control of them simply because we expected them and expected not to be in control of them?

I suspect part of the confusion with transitions starting when your 30 is that when we’re young we have these expected transitions, or sign posts, to look forward to: each year we’re in a different grade then we’re graduating high school, then we go to college, then we get a job, along the way we hopefully find that special someone, we get married and start a family (be it with children, pets, or just the two of us). I think for a lot of people turning 30 is one of those transitions, based on how many people get wigged out by it. But for those of us who hit 30 after the other “expected” transitions, what’s next? Turning 40? There’s no set plan handed to us past 30 — we’re on our own to make it up as we go.

I predict that Benjamin and I will have one of those big transition moments when he graduates in 8(!) months. While I expect the transition will be fairly easy for B as it’ll be the planned “graduate and start a job” transition, I think it will be a really hard transition for me because that’s the end of the existing plan: I graduated, met/fell in love/married someone, put them through school, turned 30 along the way… what’s next after that? All kinds of stuff I’m sure, I just don’t know what it is!! :)

I joked with my Dad last year before my birthday that I was going to have a third-life crisis when I turned 30. He very seriously told me that 30 and even 40 isn’t a big deal but that 50 was the big one ’cause you realize that the odds are good your life is half over. I’m not sure what to make of that per se, but maybe that’s the reason that turning 30 didn’t seem like a big deal to me. Ask me again how I feel about it when I turn 50!

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cpeel

I'm a gay geek techie space nerd living in Seattle, WA.

6 thoughts on “Life transitions”

  1. Transitions

    What an interesting post–both hers and yours. I suspect that there is also something in play that has to do with the fact that as you get older, typically, you begin to recognize that the set of “things you don’t know you don’t know” is much bigger than you ever thought it was. And what that can do is make you cognizant of the fact that even though there are still a few set things that can/might/will happen (e.g., a changing body, retirement, a possible second career, grandchildren, senior discounts), you know (and sometimes fear) that there are a lot of things that you know you don’t know might happen, too.

    As for being 50 (I’ll be 52 in a couple of weeks), these are the thoughts I most often have whenever I do think of my age:

    1. “I can’t BELIEVE I’m over FIFTY years old. I just can’t believe it.
    2. “I’m so glad to already know how my first 50 years are going to be here, and that they were quite good in spite of occasional heartaches and setbacks.”
    3. “I’m at the end of my career.”
    4. “I can’t believe I have the potential to have another 30 or 40 years here. That’s a long time.”
    5. “It would really help me if I could work for 9 more years, as that would give me access to prorated health care for life.”

    Thanks for the opportunity to reflect on this, Casey.

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    1. Re: Transitions

      You almost sound like Donald Rumsfeld there, but I agree with your statement: the world is a bigger place than we realize, and seems to be getting bigger while our minds become less malleable with age.

      As an aside, I happened across our last ST conversation yesterday in my chat history. It was our brief conversation on your last day at IBM and it made me smile.

      Thanks for commenting John – your insight is always appreciated.

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  2. Thanks for saying it made you think. Since not many people seem to comment, I think I’m talking to the wind! It’s something that’s been on my mind for a while, but I was unable to pinpoint it. Finally, last night I was able to organize some thoughts. One of the people I was thinking of when writing it was you – I’m anticipating B’s graduation a slightly hard transition for you. I know you guys will manage through it, though! – Renee

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    1. Yes, I think that transition is going to be a tricky one. As you know I’m very goal centric so B and I will have to come up with some more mid- and long-term goals as a couple. Maybe I’ll stop joking about retiring when he starts working and start really planning it :)

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  3. Interesting topic and input. As one reflects on all the transition periods it can be overwhelming. One can only hope that we learn to adapt along the way and be happy with the outcome. Love and faith are the best tools.
    BTW – Remind your Dad that any age is good when you consider the alternative!

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  4. Ok, that’s seriously eerie – I think I had almost this exact conversation with Jeff yesterday in the car, down to noting changes in grades creates markers to keep time by. (Well, I was specifically talking about how time seems to move faster now than it once did, but that’s related to your points about transitions.)

    Anyhow, fascinating post!

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