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Feeling Like a Failure at 30? Here’s Why and What To Do About It

Are you feeling like a failure at 30? You’re not alone. Here’s why it happens and what to do about it.

At thirty, the world might feel like it’s crashing down around you.

You may find yourself wondering why life has turned out this way, questioning what decisions caused you to reach this point—feeling like a failure at 30.

But worry not: feeling like a failure is more common than you think! Many of us go through a hard time at some point.

The good news is that taking ownership of your feelings and making positive steps towards improvement can help prepare you for success in all areas of life.

In this blog post, we’ll explore why so many people reach such lows at age thirty and show how to take small but decisive actions to move on from these anxieties onto bigger and better things.

Feeling Like a Failure at 30

What does “failure” mean and why do we feel like it at 30

The first step is to discuss what failure means.

The concept of “failure” often presents itself as an ominous cloud, particularly as we approach 30.

Although it’s an inherently subjective term, we tend to associate it with any instance where we haven’t met certain societal expectations or personal benchmarks.

As young adults or in our early 20s, it feels like we have a million possibilities in front of us. As we approach 30, though, those possibilities don’t feel quite as endless.

This disillusionment at 30 can be attributed to the slew of milestones and achievements that we believe we should have reached by that age, whether it’s personal growth, professional life, career success, or meaningful relationships.

We look at others who seemingly love their career path or have their dream job, are in a happy marriage or are traveling the world. And if we don’t have those things, we experience low self-esteem.

If we do have those things, lots of people experience imposter syndrome — feeling like they aren’t deserving of the success.

Amidst these external pressures, we often neglect to acknowledge the uniqueness of each individual’s journey, not to mention the imperfections residing in those seemingly “successful” stories. Remember, successful careers, don’t necessarily mean that someone is happy.

Drawing a comparison of our success with our peers may only exacerbate the feeling of failure, revealing an inherent fallacy in our perception of progress.

The worst thing we can do is compare ourselves to other people and think we are the only person who doesn’t have it all together.

Ultimately, taking a relaxed, honest, and serious approach to confronting this existential crossroads allows for the recognition that the idea of failure is not absolute and can be instrumental in fostering growth and self-discovery.

How our expectations, self-judgment, and comparison with others can contribute to feeling like a failure

As we go through life, our perceptions of success and failure are often shaped by our own expectations, self-judgment, and comparison with others.

At times, we can become our own worst critic, holding ourselves to unattainable standards that might lead us to feel like a failure.

It’s important to acknowledge that this can sometimes come from a place of wanting to be the best version of ourselves, but pushing ourselves to unrealistic heights can cause unnecessary stress and disappointment.

Comparing our lives to others can exacerbate this issue further, as we become more focused on what we lack rather than appreciating the progress we’ve already made.

Although it’s natural for such feelings to arise from time to time, we should work towards recognizing the value and success in our own journey rather than only looking for validation outside of ourselves.

In doing so, we can create a more positive mindset that celebrates our own unique accomplishments and nurtures a sense of self-compassion.

One of the first things we can do is recognize the way we are feeling, recognize any negative influence, remind ourselves that tough times happen, and see what positive changes we can make for our mental health.

two women drinking wine and chatting

Why comparing yourself to others is not helpful

It’s natural to occasionally compare ourselves to others, especially in today’s world where social media acts as a constant reminder of other people’s successes and milestones.

However, doing so can actually deter us from embracing our own unique journey and celebrating our personal achievements.

When we gauge our self-worth by comparing ourselves to others, we often end up feeling inadequate and demotivated.

In reality, each person’s path is different and comes with its own set of challenges that others may not necessarily experience.

Rather than striving to emulate someone else’s life, focus on cultivating self-awareness, embracing our strengths, and learning from our weaknesses.

Ultimately, the goal is to become the best version of ourselves, without the pressure of meeting anyone else’s standards.

Leaning into the process of self-discovery and growth is not just essential to our overall happiness, but it also allows us to support and uplift others on their unique paths as well.

Practical strategies to embrace your successes and develop self-confidence

Reaching 30 years old can be both a joy and a challenge.

While it symbolizes milestones such as accomplishments and experiences, for some, it might feel like an age of unfulfilled dreams, making it difficult to appreciate your successes.

Start embracing the things you have done right, no matter how small.

Writing lists of your achievements — from big accomplishments to the little daily triumphs — is a simple and effective way to not only track progress but also to make yourself feel more empowered.

Practicing self-confidence can also include being kinder to yourself; try replacing negative thoughts with positive ones, which will help you find greater perspective on life’s challenges and fears.

If you are worried about a mental health issue like depression (even if you are noticing just a lack of motivation to do something you usually love) or anxiety, reach out to your healthcare provider as soon as possible.

More next steps can include joining support groups, taking to your best friend, redefining your values and core belief.

Finally, focus on personal growth; even if you haven’t reached every goal you wanted by now, there’s no reason why you cannot still work towards them.

With the right practical strategies, there’s nothing that should stop you from confidently embracing who you are and what you have accomplished.

two women sitting at a desk

Acknowledge your wins – list them out or keep track of positive moments

It’s imperative to take a moment and acknowledge our wins in life. In the fast-paced world we live in, we often overlook our accomplishments and small moments of happiness.

By keeping track of our positive experiences, we not only remind ourselves of the progress we have made, but also foster a sense of gratitude and self-appreciation.

This simple yet powerful practice allows us to maintain a relaxed and honest outlook towards our lives.

Remember, every challenge we overcome and success we achieve deserves recognition, no matter how small they may seem.

So, let’s take a step back, reflect on our victories, and genuinely embrace the fruits of our hard work and perseverance.

Practicing gratitude for what you have achieved

Embracing a sense of gratitude for our accomplishments can have a profound impact on our overall well-being at any given moment.

Taking a moment each day to reflect on the milestones we have reached, the goals we have crushed, and the progress we have made, no matter how big or small, can help cultivate a mindset of abundance rather than scarcity.

When we practice gratitude regularly, we learn to appreciate the journey and the lessons learned along the way, rather than just focusing on the destination.

In turn, this attitude of thankfulness helps us maintain a relaxed and honest outlook on life, allowing us to face challenges with grace and resilience as we continue to grow and achieve.

So take a deep breath, and give yourself a pat on the back for your achievements. You’ve earned it.

Celebrate the small victories

Turning 30 can be daunting, and it’s completely understandable if you feel like you’re a bit behind in life.

It’s easy to focus on the negative and fall into a spiral of self-doubt, but don’t forget to give yourself credit for the small victories too.

Celebrating each success, no matter how small, is key for motivation, perseverance and growth.

Acknowledge all your hard work and don’t be shy about appreciating your accomplishments.

Appreciating yourself will help push away those feelings of failure and give you more confidence in tackling bigger goals.

Learn from your mistakes – how to reframe failures into lessons learnt

Life is a constant journey of growth and evolution, and making mistakes is a natural part of that process.

Admitting the error and finding the lesson it holds is a sign of true maturity and wisdom. It is not a bad thing to be wrong — in fact, a simple truth of life is that it’s a good thing to be wrong.

Instead of dwelling on the negativity that often surrounds failure, let’s reframe our perspective and recognize that each mistake is an opportunity to learn and develop as individuals.

By embracing a relaxed, honest, and serious approach, we can examine what went wrong, identify the factors that contributed to the outcome, and devise a plan to avoid the same pitfalls in the future. As we acknowledge and accept our mistakes, we are opened up to the possibility of self-improvement and growth.

Ultimately, we must trust that our failures hold a wealth of knowledge, and when we allow ourselves to learn from them, we become more skilled, adaptable, and resilient.

Get support – seek advice from those who understand and can help you work through your challenges

In our lives, we will inevitably face challenges that can leave us feeling overwhelmed and uncertain.

It’s during these times that reaching out for support becomes essential.

By seeking advice from those who understand and can help us work through our struggles, we not only lighten the burden on our shoulders but also gain invaluable insights into navigating the complexities of our situations.

Engaging in open, honest conversations with trusted individuals or mental health professionals can provide the empathy and encouragement we need, while also fostering a sense of unity as we realize that we are never truly alone in facing life’s difficulties. There is no shame in getting professional help.

With the right mix of understanding and guidance, we become better equipped to grow stronger and more resilient through our adversities.

Set new goals for yourself

Trying new things is a great way to experience new perspectives, open your mind to different possibilities, and stay inspired.

It can be as simple as setting a goal to read one book every month or taking up a weekend hobby. These activities will offer you an opportunity to explore what energizes you and spark creativity.

By challenging yourself regularly, you’ll gain valuable insights into your strengths and weaknesses. This will help you build a clearer vision of who you are and what you want to achieve in life.

It is never too late to start anew, so set new goals for yourself, try something different, and watch the magic unfold as you continue down the path of growth and personal development.

No matter what difficulties you may encounter, remember that every setback is also a chance to get back up and move forward with courage.

Focus on the things that make you feel good – practice self-care

In today’s world, it is all too easy to get caught up in pursuing success and accomplishing goals at the expense of our own wellbeing.

It is important to take time for ourselves, step away from the pressures of everyday life, and just breathe.

Self-care can come in many forms — whether it’s taking a hot bath after a long day, exploring new hobbies that make you feel alive and energized, or simply unplugging from any form of technology for a few hours.

When we allow ourselves the opportunity to relax and focus on what makes us feel good, it can be incredibly therapeutic. We gain insight into our true needs and desires and make positive changes that benefit both our physical and mental health.

Remember, self-care is not selfish — it is essential in taking care of our minds, bodies, and souls.

In Summary: Feeling Like a Failure at 30

In the end, it is important to remind ourselves that feeling like a failure at 30 – or any age – is completely normal.

We must recognize that our self-criticism and comparison of ourselves to others can be irrational, even hurtful.

It’s essential to take the time to appreciate your own successes and build self-confidence through gratitude and celebration of small victories.

As well as learn how to make the most out of mistakes, reframing them as learning experiences.

Finally, remember that it is always ok to ask for help from those who can offer support and guidance when dealing with difficult situations.

No one should go through life feeling like a total failure – so let us look for the silver linings wherever we are in our individual journey – because there might be some lessons along the way worth cherishing!

About the Author

Nicole Booz is the founder of GenTwenty and GenThirty. She is an entrepreneur, author of The Kidult Handbook, and most importantly, Mama to two beautiful little boys. She loves reading, organizing her home, and living a simple, less toxic lifestyle. You've seen her in The New York Times, TIME, Insider, Inside Edition, New York Post, NextAdvisor, Forbes, Yahoo, HuffPost, and U.S. News & World Report.


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