“When I’m 30, I’d like to be married with a strong career.”
Oh the sentiments of youth. The days when we’re young, naïve and find it perfectly reasonable to expect that life turns out exactly the way you’d planned.
Alas, I’m neither married nor have a strong career, well not in the way I expected at the age of 16 anyway. And what did I expect? Well, my ambitious dreams probably included a fancy suit and heels which I’d trade in for a casual yet attractive outfit in which to welcome hubby home, an enviable house and car/s and perhaps a pet or two while we debated the ‘best’ time to have children. Little did I know that, nearing my 29th birthday, I’d be very single and seemingly facing a lifetime of rent.
What would I say to my younger self now? I think I’d offer some wisdom along the lines of –
– As much as you enjoy the idea of planning your life, it’s not one of those things that can be planned (of course, we can make plans, but ultimately we don’t have control over how they turn out)
– Money isn’t everything (and since you’re making the decision to become a journalist, you’ll soon have to realise that)
– Happiness is not materialistic
It’s difficult sometimes to stay positive as a woman in a world where you hear lies such as –
– The older you get, the uglier you get
– Beauty is everything
– If you don’t have beauty, you need a good career or a family (because these are things that matter most apparently)
I don’t normally let these lies get to me but, of course, there are days when they can. Perhaps on a day where your Facebook stream consists only of weddings and babies, career achievements and world travels (the usage of Facebook to boast about the ‘highlights’ of our lives, giving others a not-entirely-accurate portrayal of our lives, is a whole other story in itself). So, it was on one of these days that I had a conversation with a friend when I said something I normally dislike hearing and try not to say myself: “I’m getting old”. My friend, an older and much wiser friend, replied with a laugh: “But you’re not even 30!”
It was a relief to hear someone else say that; to confirm my hopes that I hadn’t been going crazy in too thinking that being 30 does not make one old. It seems that I so often hear others around me, whether they actually voice it or they convey it in their speech or actions, that 30 actually is old. The people I hear this from the most are women in their 30s or younger. And it makes me wonder – why are we encouraging this way of thinking? Do we really believe 30 is ‘old’?!
Living for 30 years, or three where to buy nolvadex online decades, is a good amount of time, yes. Certainly, we aren’t children anymore and our lifestyles should reveal that – we need to be healthier, avoid age-related illnesses and realise that it gets riskier to have children the older we are. But I do not believe that 30 is old. And it saddens me that women get so depressed and anxious as they grow older. It’s sad because we are believing the lies of this world – that getting married and having children will make us truly happy, or, if that’s not our path, that happiness lies in a high-flying career or some outstanding skill or talent.
Ultimately, we will all age. The beautiful today will be wrinkly in the future, just like everyone else their age. Careers will come to an end, no matter how long we cling to them. Our lives don’t last forever, and beauty and money will be left behind. So why do we treat these things as more than just that – things?
It seems pointless when we scorn the pages of a beauty magazine, shaking off the models as Photoshopped and unrealistic, or repeat clichés such as ‘money doesn’t make you happy’ but don’t apply these same attitudes to our everyday lives. If we more often reminded each other about what really matters, what really lasts, then I don’t think we’d be saying “I’m too old” in our twenties as frequently.
I guess this then begs the question – what is old?
Who knows really! Sure, time and age are definite measures, but I think that ‘being old’ is often something you feel rather than are. For instance, I have a friend in her 80s and her personality is more vibrant than others 60 years her junior. She suffers from bad health which limits what she can and can’t do, but her sparkling eyes, warm laugh, active spirit and mischievous humour make her more ‘youth’ than ‘pensioner’. And, when I imagine a night out on the town, dancing into the morning to dubstep (newish phase for me, bad timing perhaps), it’s my 80+ friend who would probably show more enthusiasm to join me, if she could, rather than my friends at around my age who think “we’re too old”.
So the next time someone says they’re too old, or too ugly, or too single, or too poor, or too childless, or too much of a failure, let’s encourage one another to stop living by the world’s measures of what makes us young, beautiful, content, rich or happy.
I’m about to be 29. I’m no super model, I’m not rich, the top of the career ladder reaches the sky, I haven’t travelled all over the world and if wedding bells rang, I probably wouldn’t recognise them. And that is absolutely fine.