I always knew 2017 was going to be difficult for me in terms of bearing the weight of society’s expectations. Two of my best friends got married this year, two had their first babies. Add the fact that I turn 30 this year and someone might as well be holding a ticking clock over my head (a ticking clock that sounds suspiciously like ba-bies, ba-bies, ba-bies, ova-ries to the sound of my mother’s voice).
I spent so much time thinking about turning 30, almost as soon as I turned 29 in fact. I had grand plans: I made up a list of 30 things I wanted to do before I turned 30 (of which I ultimately did maybe 5); I booked an annual leave for 2 weeks because I wanted to celebrate with a bang; I looked up flights to Vegas and Turkey and Santorini. I saw my 30th birthday as this looming deadline and I wanted to do anything and everything before this dreaded day arrives.
As always, reality got in the way; life – and living it- got in the way. I forgot all about my list. I forgot to be afraid of that arbitrary finish line that really only existed in my head. I got busy; I faced new challenges in my career, I was working towards getting my citizenship, I had extra curricular activities that needed my full attention and a blog to maintain. In short, I got busy living my life to be worried that it doesn’t measure up to everyone else’s.
And it was the best thing that could have ever happened.
A lot of people told me that 30, as cliche as it may sound, is really just a number. And its true. Your life doesn’t stop, or have to necessarily change, when you turn 30. Like, there are people who say you have to start thinking about settling and sorting out the future when you turn 30. I’ve been thinking about my future since I was 10. I’d like to think I have most of my life sorted, that I’m exactly where I want to be. But then again, if I don’t have my shit fully together, if there are still some things I’m figuring out, there’s nothing wrong with that.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that we should try to mininise living our lives by numbers. Marry at 25, 2 kids and a successful career by 30, a mortgage in 2 years – the truth is, there is no one life map that fits all. There is no timeline that you need to follow. You get married because you’ve genuinely found someone you want to spend the rest of your life with. You have kids because you find fulfillment in being a parent and because you’re ready. You buy a house because you have a family. And because you’re ready. You are not obligated to do all of these things because you’re 30.
That being said, turning 30 does mean that you have to have a certain level of maturity. There are things that I wish to be better at and while I don’t need to wait for my birthday each year to start doing them, it seems like as good a time as any to start. So I made a shortlist of things that I WILL do this year:
I will take better care of myself
The only thing that’s true about turning 30 is that you’re not as young as used to be, physiologically speaking. Your body and your health become more high maintenance as you get older, that’s just a fact. Which means I can no longer afford to have a chocolate binge after a stressful day at work (which is almost every day). My family has a history of high cholesterol and heart disease. I have yet to lose all the weight I gained in 2015 (and have continued to gain since). All of this ends starting today. I will make a more conscious effort to eat healthy and exercise at least 4x a week.
I will save more money
Some people think that the answer to every financial problem is to find a job that pays better. Its not. The answer lies in living within your means. Cut out things that are not strictly necessary. Do I really need to have an expensive meal every weekend? Do I need more books? Do I need more shoes? Can I afford to go on that holiday? I may not be sending any kid to school or saving for a mortgage, but I do need to save for the rainy days. This is something I need to take more seriously this year.
Collect memories and experiences rather than things
In keeping with saving money, I need to be more selective about the things that I DO shell out for. Travelling is fine, buying a designer bag is not. I mean to each his own right? If owning a Prada bag makes you happy, more power to you. But I personally feel I should be investing in things that keep me sane, centred and happy on a higher level, not just materially. I am not going to suddenly become a minimalist (let’s be realistic) but I will try to be more careful about what I spend on.
Do what you love and love what you’re doing
I know that having a stable job and a career becomes more important as you reach your 30s. Everyone seems to measure success by how far you’ve climbed the career ladder. I disagree. Having ambitions is all well and good; aspiring to a better position and a better pay – that’s all fine. But I think being happy at what you do, and still being able to have a life outside work, is the true measure of success. Its no secret that I turned down a high-paying, higher-ranking job offer last year because I didn’t think I’d make as much an impact and because I didn’t think it would make me happy. I would rather stay at a job that will make the most out of my skill set and that will give me fulfillment.
Don’t be afraid to try new things
Like I said, just because you’re no longer a teenager doesn’t mean there isn’t any room for new experiences. Besides, I was always a late bloomer so I’m pretty sure there are a lot more experiences to be had. I just need to stop being so scared all the time and just try. There are things that I’d like to try but have always been afraid of, but the only other thing that’s true about aging is that you have to take every chance and every opportunity because life IS short.
Give dating another go.
Ah, everyone’s favourite question to a woman in her 30s. Why are you single? When are you planning to settle down and get married? I hate getting asked this question because it implies that there’s something wrong with being single in your 30s. Well, excuse me for being a little too busy to care. But. Lately I find myself thinking that maybe it IS time to get back to dating again. Not because society expects me to but because I want to. I gave myself a hiatus because I was so tired of all the bad dates and the dates that seemed to have gone well but always end up being a disappointment. I’ve kind of closed my mind to the idea of meeting someone because I was tired. I think its time to be open once again and just put the idea to the universe at large in the hopes that the universe will cooperate.
The one thing I hate about dating is that you make yourself so vulnerable, and I hate making myself vulnerable to anything. I feel like I have this wall all the time because I don’t want to risk being hurt. If someone gets to close, I go ‘dracarys’ and blow that opportunity out of the water (lol, GOT reference!). I sometimes don’t even realise I’m doing it. I have to be better at being more open and less afraid.
Ah, my 30s. People say it only gets better from here and I’m quite hopeful that it will be. I will be stronger. I will be wiser. I will probably fail epically on some of the things I set out to do but I have never been a quitter, and I’m not about to start now.
Happy 30th to me!