I never feared turning 30.
30 seems to be the age that pop culture defines as the point you become ‘old’, the point at which you should be married, own property, have procreated and then ‘settled down’ into some semblance of normal, adult life. We’re all supposed to freak out as we approach 30, as though everything that happened before was meaningless if it didn’t include the aforementioned achievements, and everything afterwards, whether you achieved them or not, was destined to be dull and routine. It’s supposed to be a period of mourning lost youth, and blind panic about your lack of tangible accomplishments, but for me, it was just another Birthday.
In fact, I’ll go as far as to say, I scoffed at the idea that the simple crossing of an age should envolk any real emotion in me. Plenty of times in the run up, when people asked how I was feeling about the impending milestone, I laughed and declared it ridiculous that I should feel any different at 30 than I did at 29. I still stand by that to a certain extent, because when you put it that plainly, it is ridiculous, but how smug I was back then to think that I could get through life without feeling that unsettling sense that life is passing by far too quickly! I guess I had reason to feel smug back then. I was doing well at work, was in a long term relationship that I was confident was a keeper – I felt like life was pretty much on track, despite the fact I was still husbandless, childless and mortgageless. I had always thought I would have all of those things by that point, but the fact that I didn’t just wasn’t a concern, because I was confident they were on the not so distant horizon. And it seems I was right not to be concerned, because in the following months it all started happening. I got promoted. I moved into a home that was admittedly still a rental but one I was in love with. I got a dog and I got engaged. Life really did start at 30, I thought.
It didn’t though. It was the start of a life, for sure, but only a temporary one. If you’ve been reading since the beginning you’ll know all too well what came next, but for those who haven’t here’s a very brief recap: 31 was a snoozefest in comparison, and full of frustration that none of these very exciting life events were appearing to come to fruition. At 32 I was desperately telling myself it was fine and completely normal that that promising start to my adult life seemed to have stalled somewhat. I was lying through my teeth when I wrote that post about how totally ok I was about it all, and it was only recently that I was able to admit that to myself. At 33 it had all come apart. The previous 12 months had featured booking a wedding, a catastrophic period at work, cancelling a wedding, calling off my relationship all together and moving out of that beloved rental home and back in with my parents. Bit crappy truth be told. You couldn’t really tell from that post either, because again, it wasn’t quite the truth. I wasn’t exactly lying this time though. I was just point blank refusing to really deal with any of the year’s terrible events. I had met someone new that I was crazy about and I had managed to convince myself this was simply the start of another, better, chapter and nothing to be sad about. Then came 34. This post was a little more honest, but still not a true reflection of what I was feeling at the time. When I wrote that post 12 months ago I had just come out the other side of the most traumatic year of my life so far. I find it quite amusing now to read that I thought the post was ‘a little melancholy’, when in reality I had completely glossed over what I’d experienced that year – essentially just a break up, but one that really forced me to deal with everything that had happened in the previous 2 years and accept the sense of loss and grief that I’d been denying for so long. There was none of the false optimism in that post – I was a far more jaded and cautious person by that point, but still, I avoided really telling you how I was feeling, so this year I’ve decided to just tell you exactly how it is, no holds barred. And here it is…
I totally freaked out about turning 35, guys. Like, on a major scale. I did that exact thing I always said I hated – I had placed a completely arbitrary meaning to what is just a number, but even though I knew I was doing it, somehow I couldn’t stop myself. I can’t quite put my finger on why it is exactly that reaching 35 has become such a problem for me. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve crossed into that half a decade that is closer to 40 than 30, or maybe it’s the billions of articles that people love to share on Facebook about just how many of my eggs are dying with every breath I take post Birthday, but something about 35 felt like a hard stop, like I was hurtling at great speed towards a precipice from which there would be no return, and there was simply no way of slamming on the brakes. Yes, very melodramatic stuff I’m sure you’ll agree, and rest assured I was as baffled as you are right now about why I was behaving in such a bizarre way about it. I have plenty of friends aged 35 and upwards and I don’t consider them remotely ‘old’. And it certainly isn’t the case that I feel like the good things in life have come to an abrupt end – just like the last 3 years, my life has changed dramatically again since my last Birthday and I’m the most successful, most comfortable and most content I have every been, with so much to look forward to. Maybe that’s why – that I am now so close, and yet still so far from getting what I’ve always wanted, which if I’m honest, above all, is a family of my own.
For the last 5 years I’ve been painfully aware that marriage and children haven’t happened for me, and while I’m sure I’m about to get a million comments telling me to get over it, it isn’t the be all or end all, or tell me to be patient, it will all come in good time, none of that helps me feel any better about it. I’ve always acknowledged that I might have to accept that it might never happen, but I think looking back it has always been in a ‘I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it’ kinda way, and this year I think I finally came face to face with that realisation. I’ve arrived at the bridge. Those things still aren’t out of reach to me, but they won’t happen in the way I always wanted them to – this is fact. I always wanted to have at least one child, or at least stop having children when I chose to rather than because I couldn’t any more. I also wanted to have a decent gap between them. I always thought I’d be married first – not because I have strong religious or moral feelings about it, simply because I couldn’t see why I would choose to have children with someone I didn’t want to marry. Marriage is equally important to me too – I take it seriously and always wanted to find that bond with someone who would be a partner to me for life. The fact of the matter is though, I just don’t have the luxury of time any more. If I still want those things I’m going to have to make some re-adjustments to what I perceive as priorities, and for some reason that is taking me some time to get my head around and accept. Does it really matter to me if I’m married first? If it does, can I accept that this might limit my options when it comes to how many children I have, if any? Could we afford to do all the things to the house that we’ve planned if I were to get pregnant and/or have a Wedding in the next year or two? And if it turns out that doesn’t go to plan, how far are we willing to go in pursuit of having children naturally? Are we even ready for any of this having been through so much already and both still feeling a little bruised from the past? This all suddenly seems like an awful lot to think about with not a huge amount of time to come to decisions, and considering these are things I’ve supposedly been considering for at least the last 10 years, it seems crazy that I can’t quite work it all out.
I guess the root of it all is that I’ve always been a chronic procrastinator. I have always taken an age to deliberate on the things that mean the most to me, always striving for that perfect set of circumstances, and frequently running away from the decision altogether if there is a risk it might mean I fail or get it wrong – which I know isn’t healthy and something I continue to battle with. So the fact that these things I want so much, all things I just assumed would happen naturally at some point, are now all reliant on me making some quick and tough decisions is frankly terrifying to me. They won’t just happen on their own anymore, and I have to take my fate into my own hands and actually go for it. Which I guess is kind of exciting too, if I can get over my complete lack of confidence in myself to make the right call!
So there you have it – the unfiltered, rather unhinged, but hopefully relatable truth. A finally honest version of how I really feel about aging another year. I’m very happy, slightly annoyed with myself and completely and utterly petrified right now, all at the same time. I’m equal parts thrilled with how my life has turned out so far and seriously pissed off that I’m still not quite there yet despite trying to be sensible and brave about my life decisions. It’s been a hell of a half-decade, and the best might just be yet to come – I’ve got a lot to work out in the coming months, but who knows what my Birthday Musings post might contain?! I hope you’ll still be reading with me by then (if you haven’t been put off by what a basket case I am…!)