The Career Crisis Affecting 30-Something Women No One Is Talking About

© Julie / Adobe Stock

Woman looking out window

© Julie / Adobe Stock

Solange Lopes via Ellevate
Solange Lopes via Ellevate
May 29, 2024 at 2:37PM UTC
I’ve been talking to a lot of my girlfriends lately, from all parts of the world, about our careers. The resounding echo I get from these conversations is pretty much the same: for many, if not most of us, we’re looking for more meaning in our work.
It’s not quite the grandiose mid-life crisis, filled with crazy shoe-shopping extravaganzas, trips to exotic locales or fantasies about the perfect man (ok, I said fantasies). Neither is it the effervescent fever of the quarter-life, filled with question marks and existential queries of all kinds.
This crisis right here has us question the very meaning of our work. It has us asking ourselves questions like, “What’s my purpose?” “What’s my passion?” “Heck, do I have a passion?” What am I here to do?”
In between shuttling the kids to and from school and activities, making last minute meal plans, trying to pray the laundry away, we stop and ask ourselves if we’re really fulfilling our purpose. Do we even have a purpose, other than caring for everyone else around, going above and beyond at work, home and everywhere in between?
As messages of female empowerment have been in our face now more than ever, it seems to be increasingly difficult to keep our power. We’re called on to slay as we climb the corporate ladder, build businesses, maintain successful relationships and friendships, and still find enough time to exercise, exfoliate and try the latest natural hair product out! Really?
What no one really talks about, at least not loud enough, is the fact that in the midst of what may be the biggest achievement century for women, we’re simply… exhausted! And, a bit lost. Even more so as we don’t really have a chance to publicly admit it.
While we’re all about gender equality, female entrepreneurship and everything badass, fierce and slaying for women, many of us are lost. Yes, we’re slaying at work, at home and in business. We’ve got jobs (in the words of RHOA’s Phaedra Parks), kids, side hustles, meal plans, exercise routines, down to scheduled intimacy.
We’ve never been busier, but are we fulfilled? We’ve never been more positive, but are we intentional? We’ve never worn so many hats, but are we productive?
Maybe in this great rush to have it all, do it all, and then some, maybe we’re skipping a few steps. That may be why after all the empowerment, the glass ceiling smashing, business dominating and all the slaying we can possibly muster, we’re still left wondering about what work really means to us… and how we can really, truly achieve meaning through it. Not the meaning the world is looking for, but our own kind of unique, peculiar, flexible meaning.
Just scroll through the timelines of most of your girlfriends, mine included. Most likely, you’ll see gleaming pics of happy vacations, perfect family moments and extreme productivity (with the perfect Insta-worthy background, too.)
What you won’t see are the doubts, the moments in your car when all you want to do is scream because baby daughter got another late ticket at school, you forgot your left earring and you’d give up dessert forever to get a job you really love.
But you know, you’re an adult now, you’ve got to toughen it out and put on your brave face. So you dry your tears, post another positive affirmation on Instagram, and leave the daunting task of finding deeper meaning for your work to tomorrow.
After all, it ain’t a crisis if no one knows about it, right?
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