What defines our values at the age of 30?

October 04, 2020 - 08:53

I believe we all have certain goals to reach by the age of 30, which can include buying a car and a house, securing a job at a well-known corporation, or simply settling down in a happy marriage.


Illustration by Trịnh Lập

 by Trương An Phương

I believe we all have certain goals to reach by the age of 30, which can include buying a car and a house, securing a job at a well-known corporation, or simply settling down in a happy marriage.

As a 27-year-old, I cannot help but think that these “popular” goals, which were very much embraced by the older generations, are not that relevant to today’s society. Since life has gone through massive changes in terms of how we go about it, the definition of what we should do by the age of 30 needs to be redefined.

My friend Như Phan, 29, told me that she probably owns more clothes than other valuable assets.

“I always save a part of my salary for new clothing. Shopping is my therapy! Considering that the nature of my job is very stressful, I feel like having regular splurges, as a way to pamper myself, is important to keep me going in life,” she said.

“Beautiful, trendy and professional clothes are beneficial to my career path. The fashion industry, which I’m working in, is dynamic and needs fresh changes all the time,” she added.

Như is currently living in HCM City in a two-bedroom apartment that she rents with one of her close friends, also from Hà Nội. Both of them have not thought much about saving and purchasing a house anytime soon, even though they have pretty much decided to settle in HCM City for good.

“We don’t seek parents’ support and are fine with our quality of life at the moment. We feel the pressure to earn something 'big' by the age of 30 and sometimes use it to motivate ourselves to try harder. However, we are already under enough stress from work that we don’t want to think of anything else."

I totally understand Như and her friend, as constant stress has also dimmed my vision to work on a long-term target.

My mom has always taught me about the importance of saving, buying less unnecessary items, and focusing on ultimate goals which are settling down and buying a house. 

Close family members have a huge influence on what we consider success to be. As we grow up, we absorb the expectations that are impressed upon us by those around us. 

To be honest, as much as I appreciate mom’s advice, I’ve found it to be quite outdated to today’s society, especially after having my peers’ back me up.

“It’s fair for our parents to perceive how 30s should be in that light. Compared to us, they had to go through so much hardship in a society where not everything was readily available. Perhaps, settling down with a house felt safe enough that it has become a standard of 'success' these days,” my friend Quý Trần, 31, said.

“The old model was about stability or conformity and there’s been enough social change that we probably don’t really want those things anymore, anyway!” he added.

“On a different note, considering how they got married and had children at a young age, having somewhere to settle down was a must to secure a stable life for their kids, who are us!” Quý said, with which I totally agreed.

In my view, the definition of success or what we should achieve by the age of 30 has gradually changed. It’s all about choices, but it’s no longer relevant to impose anyone’s choices on others. And it works for both sides.

I used to feel sorry for those who put their hobbies aside to afford a house, just because their parents wanted them to do so. I found that lifestyle to be miserable and never thought that I would be judged for having my freedom. Freedom to me was the right answer to everything.

That being said, after spending a great time thinking about this topic and how unnecessary and judgmental I was, I’ve come to realise: who am I to impose my standard of living on others in the same way the older generations typically did to the younger ones?

“There’s no right or wrong as long as it doesn’t violate laws or moral values and that person feels right about their decision,” Quý said.

“Affording a house with his or her own money is a privilege, but not being able to do so doesn’t mean that person is childish and lacks vision for the future,” Như added.

Clothes, houses and all types of assets of life do not necessarily define our values.

“Being 27, I don’t own many clothes and of course, a house, but I feel very content with my life. I wake up every day and look forward to spend time with my mom, pet my cats, and pursue a job in interior design that I love. That’s enough for me,” my best friend Hà Đinh said.

Hà is right! If we were to determine the quality of life in terms of quantity, then we could never be satisfied, because how much is enough? Most importantly, my friends and I all agreed that it’s crucial to never look at how someone’s going about their life and make it a framework for how our life or goals should be.

By the age of 30, I think we all should choose to create memorable moments every day with what we have. Don’t make 30 a number that brings unnecessary pressure. - VNS