Sometime in October, a friend found a strand of white hair on my head. It is the first one I have seen on my head, omo! I screamed. Let’s just say my reaction was very dramatic; I couldn’t believe that I was sprouting grey hairs. I was less than a year from turning thirty at the time.
Like many women, the prospect of turning 30 feels so significant, like an age that cements you, finally, into adulthood. When I was twenty-five, merely thinking of turning thirty was scary. I looked at people who were thirty back then with respect and assumed that they had their lives sorted out, that they knew everything.
But now, in 2021, I am a few months shy of thirty and still haven’t figured out my life. Before now, I believed I would be done with my PhD by the time I finally hit the big 3-0, that I’d even have a job as a professor. I also believed I’d be married and preparing to have my first kid. Suffice to say dear reader, that I don’t have a PhD, I almost got married but God saved me from making a life scarring mistake.
Truth is, I am not where I want to be, but I am happy with where I am, and I am very grateful to God for it. Yet, turning thirty still felt daunting to me. I even went as far as speaking to a number of my friends who are also turning thirty in 2021, and the feeling was the same.
Why are we afraid of getting older? Do we want to die young?
I did some reflections on myself and found that it boiled down to societal expectations. We were taught through books and the actions of those around us that if as a woman you don’t have your life together (which means marriage and kids) by thirty, you are ruined. An Old maid etc.
Career wise, there are all the “Under Thirty” lists of successful people who made break throughs in their twenties. They are lifted up as the beacon of light and we (un)consciously began to ascribe to those dreams, to “make it” before we turn 30. You whose parents struggled to send through school, you start comparing yourself with children of the wealthy and in so doing, you ignore the progress you’ve made.
There’s also the fetishization of youth. Yes, your youth is the peak of your life but who says youth stops at 30, or 40? And by your 50s, who says they are not new things to learn in life, new ways to enjoy life? Our grandparents who are in their 80s, and 90s have things they enjoy in their lives.
We shouldn’t treat life like it is a race of first to marry, first to build a house, first to earn millions. Our happiness shouldn’t be tied to our material achievements, and how fast we got them. Everyone has their journey, focus on yours.
Life is a gift, if we treat it like that, it wouldn’t matter how old we are or what you have achieved. You have the gift of life, make the best of it.
Cheers to getting older in 2021!