By the age of thirty, most of us feel like we’ve figured out a thing or two. Our jobs are becoming careers. Our relationships are turning more permanent. Our social circle settles into something less about partying and more about company. If we were finding ourselves in our twenties, then we start to feel comfortable in our own skin in our thirties. We expect life to settle down into a calm pattern so we feel in control.
But it is usually in our thirties that the surprises of growing up start to hit.
- Surprise! Your metabolism is slowing down.
- Surprise! Your joints are going to make noises when you stand up.
- Surprise! Someone younger than you got the promotion.
- Surprise! Your marriage isn’t going to work.
The shift from blind optimism to grim reality starts in our thirties and by the time that decade is over, we’re more prepared for bad news than good. What other surprises are going to whammy us? Lost teeth? Gray hair? The inability to sleep through the night? So the true surprises are the ones we don’t expect.
- Finding a new best friend.
- Starting a new romance.
- Embarking on new career paths.
- Having the opportunity to pursue the things we really want.
By the time I left my thirties, I was a different person than when I’d started them, but in many ways, I was getting back to who I’d been all along. Now, as I approach the end of my forties, I can see how important it was to get through that decade. My thirties not only shaped me, but they taught me about love and loss and fear and struggle, all elements that I need to pull from to write mysteries. They taught me that when you think you know everybody you need to know in life, you’re probably wrong. Tall, dark strangers do exist, as do kindred spirits who we just haven’t met. They taught me that nothing is set in stone and if we want to change the course of our lives, we can.
My experiences in my thirties are probably why I like to write about characters who are at a crossroads. What about you? Do you have a defining decade that influences your outlook?
Diane Vallere | @dianevallere