On the morning of journalist Rachel Syme’s 36th birthday, a pivotal day in your 30s, she posed a question on Twitter: “I feel like 33-38 is a really tough age for a lot of women I know; it feels like they have to squeeze so many big decisions and future plans into this lil window; is it just me?”
“It’s not just a baby decision which, yes, is huge in those years and looms over everything. It feels like all my friends this year are doing this huge re-evaluation of everything. It’s a time of lurches and swerves.”
It turned out, that no, it was not just her.
Instead, she had touched a nerve and was sent an avalanche of shared experiences and advice by a squad of strangers from around the world who understood exactly how she felt. There were hundreds of responses, just under 1,000 retweets and 9,000 likes.
Rachel Syme’s tweet thread resonated with many
Rachel told the BBC: “The messages, both private and public, just don’t stop coming.
“I felt like somewhere in my youth, I decided that 36 was my ‘scary age’ but now it feels like I’m here and while things are coalescing both in good ways professionally and personally, it’s also in a scary way.”
She added that the people contacting her were “describing how they were ‘going through the swerve’ so that’s what I’m now calling it”.
Rachel said she would look around and see her friends who were in the same age bracket all experiencing this “unspoken period of change” involving major life decisions.
Some were new moms, others were breaking up with their long-term partners and others were moving across the country.
“I feel like nobody talks to you about what it’s like to be this age. We have the youth; spunk, energy, beauty, and there are so many things people feel like they must do – but where are the conversations about all of the big decisions we need to make?”
Although the New Yorker hoped her vulnerability on Twitter would be a “generative exercise”, she never expected it to spark such a global conversation.
“I read so many articles about people who live with their parents for longer than before, while we also know our generation has such little job security,” she said.
She added that people take longer to settle down, live longer, and have more choices. “Basically there is just so much going on.”
@TheKimClub responded on Twitter to say that Rachel’s initial tweet was “correct”, and described being in your 30s as “a mini-adolescence”.
Erin Biba was among those who responded to Rachel’s tweet
The experiences people shared with Rachel were varied. Some feel so passionate about this particular period in life they used strong language.
“I opened up my direct messages especially and a lot of people told me intimate things. I felt honored to be entrusted with their stories. About half of those who contacted me were not people who were already in my circles,” she said.
She is trying to respond to everyone but it has taken a significant amount of time.
But, women, it is not only in your 30s that you feel this touch. Men and non-binary acknowledge the stage as one either they or their partners are going through.
Paul Busch responded: “If men are reading, and listening, they can learn a lot about the women in their lives. I’ve been married for 40+ years and would have to admit I was oblivious as my wife went through this period. But I’ll ask my daughters about it – they are 33 and 36.”
Many commented that they felt exhausted. Others agree that being in your 30s was a time in which they could do anything they wanted.
During her BBC interview, she shared how she responded to Rachel’s tweet. In your 30s, Rachel describes the stage (33-38) as crucial for fitting significant decisions and future plans into a narrow timeframe. Unfortunately, a medical event disrupted her life and career.
She values women sharing their truth, believing it empowers us to challenge limiting myths. By telling our stories, we can push back against societal expectations.
Rachel received messages from women who made transformative choices. Job changes, partner changes, egg freezing, parenthood decisions, adoption, relocation, caregiving, and fresh starts were among them.
As Rachel concludes in one of her tweets, she has received numerous messages from women who have made life-changing decisions. These decisions include job changes, partner changes, egg freezing, parenthood choices, adoption, relocation, caregiving, and starting over entirely.
“Here’s the big takeaway: you’re not alone.”
Recovering fashion blogger and Founder of NYC-based creative consultancy, Hashtag Lifestyle.