I turned 29 today.
I've spent the last few weeks thinking about the popular notion that your 20's are for exploring, while your 30's are for settling down. At first, this is an unpleasant thought: my 20's are 90% over and I'm nowhere near done exploring or ready to settle down. But beyond the initial gut reaction, I realized how wrong this idea is.
In a sense, humans are natural explorers. We spent the first million plus years of our existence as nomadic tribes. It wasn't until a few thousand years ago that we invented agriculture and built permanent civilizations and 'settled down'. Furthermore, the whole concept of a period of ‘young adulthood’ between schooling and marriage (your 20's) is a relatively new social construct.
There are plenty of people who have both 'settled down' and continued to explore. Think of all the great inventors, scientists, entrepreneurs and adventurers who discovered new wonders and reshaped the world around them in the process. They weren't all rootless, unmarried twentysomethings -- many of them were well into middle age and beyond when they made their greatest contributions to mankind.
Exploring and settling down are certainly not linear and sequential processes. So far, I've been able to balance the forces of stability and exploration in my life. Stopping the exploration process just because you hit 30 years old seems like something that Carol Dweck would call a 'fixed mindset'. I try to maintain what Dweck calls a 'growth mindset', and not let artificial and external rules of thumb like these have any bearing over the direction I take.
I love learning, trying new things, taking risks, and going on adventures. I never want that to end. I don't want to stagnate, and I certainly don't want to stop exploring. My 20's may almost be over, but my exploration is just beginning.