I hear a lot of comparisons between the adult life we live now and the adult life our parents lived 30, 40 years ago. At the age of thirty, my parents were already married, had two children, stable jobs and their own home. Almost turning 31, I can’t say that somehow I resemble the reality they lived at the same age, and I’m far from brag about their achievements. A lot has changed since then. We no longer have the same concerns, the lifestyle and the relationship with work have changed a lot.
As 30+ birthdays add up, we are confronted with a complex set of expectations, pressures and societal changes that profoundly impact our personal journey. In a world in constant transformation, social, economic and cultural structures have contributed to the complexity of adult life experiences, making it more difficult to achieve a sense of emotional and financial stability.
The idea of some theorists, such as Deleuze and Foucault, about the society of control is particularly relevant in this context, as they lead us to understand how the disciplinary structures of the past, which molded individuals through rigid rules, gave rise to a society in which control operates more subtly and diffusely. In contemporary adult life, this manifests itself through the constant need to adapt, reconfigure and self-manage in a volatile and ever-changing environment.
One of the main challenges we face is the pressure to succeed in all areas of life, including career and personal relationships. We unfold in different social roles: we are children, companions, friends, workers, etc. And in all of them we feel the pressure to perform the social function in the best possible way. Our lives have been based on the idea that it is necessary to achieve the best performance in everything, given that today’s society values the idea of being multitasking and productive at all times, which can lead to a state of constant exhaustion. The search for financial stability is an underlying concern for this pressure, as job insecurity and economic uncertainty make it difficult to achieve material security.
Furthermore, the consumer society exacerbates these challenges. We are flooded by a consumer culture that constantly reminds us of what is missing in our lives, stimulating insatiable desires and the constant search for more. However, the search for more is always in that place of material acquisition and better professional performance, we rarely seek more when it comes to mental health… And it is clear that the result could not be different, this dynamic of seeking unattainable standards, and being more and more productive, directly interferes with our emotional stability, since constant comparison can lead to chronic dissatisfaction and a feeling of inadequacy.
Technology also plays a central role in this scenario. While digital connectivity has the potential to create support networks and learning opportunities, it also contributes to a culture of self-display. Social networks, for example, often show an idealized version of the lives of others, leading to the perception that everyone else is doing better than we are, which ends up triggering feelings of anxiety and anguish.
The flexibility demanded by contemporary society also has profound implications for relationships. The need to move to pursue career opportunities, the pressure to maintain a constant presence on social media, and the difficulty finding time for self-care can make it difficult to establish and maintain deep, meaningful connections.
In this scenario, the search for financial stability also becomes more difficult. The nature of work has changed dramatically in recent decades. Many young adults face part-time jobs, lack of benefits and a general sense of insecurity. This not only affects financial stability, but also contributes to an environment of uncertainty that permeates all areas of life.
How to deal with the challenges of adult life
A practical approach to dealing with the daily challenges of 30+ is what we’ve already talked about here: psychotherapy. Different from what one might think about psychotherapy, it does not only happen in the session with a psychologist. Being in a therapeutic process requires daily analysis and a close look at oneself. This involves cultivating regular self-care practices such as meditation, exercise, creative expression, and time to relax.
Another strategy is to seek a healthy relationship with technology. This can involve periods of disconnection, limiting time spent on social media and being selective about the information we consume. By reducing exposure to content that fuels comparison and dissatisfaction, we can cultivate a more realistic and positive view of our own lives.
In addition, it is important to rethink our values and goals. Contemporary society often pushes us towards standards of success that may not be in line with our true aspirations and desires. By reflecting on what we truly value and seek in our lives, we can make more conscious and authentic decisions, even if that means challenging prevailing norms.
Adult life in a complex society is full of challenges that require a critical and resilient approach. Ultimately, it is always important to question the dominant ideals in vogue, which are always guided by social norms and rules that most of the time have nothing to do with our values, needs and aspirations. By recognizing the social and cultural pressures that contribute to the difficulty of achieving emotional and financial stability, we can adopt a more conscious and empowered posture in the search for a life that creates mechanisms to turn to yourself.
This is how I conclude this text, with the intention of making you think about the need to create a life that understands how frustrating it can be to try to live according to the lives that came before ours. Or even, how limiting it can be to live up to any lives other than our own. Comparisons only tell us about the other and are not fair, as they hardly encompass the complexity that each life-life experiences.