My best friend is turning 30 today. Happy Birthday Paul!
Turning 30, for some, I think can be a little scary. Depending on the country that you’re in, you might face certain pressures from family, friends, career and just, life in general. In Denmark, turning 25 and 30 without being marries are both marked in a way that can present you in a slightly less positive way. 25 Isn’t so bad, because most are fresh out of college and still struggling to get a career going, but turning 30 and not being married almost brands you as “unwanted”. The same is very much true in China, albeit more for women than men. Being a 30-year-old unmarried woman in China, is considered unfortunate and people may think that you are undesirable. Who would want to be with a 30-year-old?
Have I done enough with my life?
Am I ready to settle down?
Should I have gone a different way?
Why has everyone achieved more than me?
Am I with the right person?
Will I ever find the right one?
When you turn 30, I think it is easy to start questioning yourself. I am 27, I’ll turn 28 this year in September and I have a long list of questions I haven’t answered, things I have done, places I haven’t seen and just, tons of stuff that seems to be, somehow, missing. Every year I tell myself that “This year, I will …” and I never do.
As I have spent now more than 5 years in China, I have started observing a lot more of there traditions and customs. Sure, they vary from place to place but one thing seems to be true all over. A girl who is 30 and unmarried, is generally a bad thing. It doesn’t matter that women are starting to get better educated, that in many cases it is a choice and not just because they are somehow undesirable. For guys there is a similar idea, however it is generally accepted for a guy to be a little older. For a guy, the upper limit is maybe 35. Like I mentioned before, we have a similar thing in Denmark. Unmarried at 25, you’re considered a bachelor. Unmarried at 30 you are a “pebersvend” which doesn’t really have an English translation but like in China, being unmarried, especially at 30, everyone is like “really?”
It is more common these days though and this tradition dates back to a time where the general life expectancy was also a bit shorter than now. But old traditions sometimes die hard and no one wants to be labeled.
There is nothing wrong with being single. Some people stay single their entire life. There are definitely up-sides to being single. You can do what you want, when you want, see whomever you like, but in the end you’re always waking up alone in an empty place. When you are in a relationship, or married, you may be limited in what you can do with your time, but no matter what happened during the day, someone is waiting for you at home, or you can be excited about someone coming home to you at the end of the day. As far as being in a relationship, that is what I miss the most. Knowing that when I come home, someone will be there waiting.
I have questions of my own. Things I haven’t done, things I think it is too late to do. And I ask myself if I will ever “make it” like the people I have around me who seem to have it all figured out. If they aren’t married they’ve been together for years and years. But I have a secret to tell you.
You know, everyone else around sometimes seem to have it all figured out? Why do you think that is? You see it, right? The pictures they post on Facebook, the good news about their job promotion, the pictures from their night out and their recent trip to (insert tropical island here). But remember something. We tend to show others the best side of ourselves, we rarely share it with the world when something goes wrong. When you look at your friends’ posts on Facebook, chances are it is a good thing. They post pictures of their babies, their young children or their husband and wife playing with their kids in the garden. You see your friends who are a couple, sitting at a table together, laughing and smiling. You see their holiday pictures from their recent trip.
The picture doesn’t tell you, that their babies were up all night crying for no reason. You won’t see that this is the first time that daddy had time to play with his daughter because he was stressed out at work, you don’t know that the couple who are now laughing, had a big fight before going out and didn’t say a word to each other on their way to the restaurant. You would never know that right after taking that beautiful photo on the beach, a bag was stolen or something else happened. We’re very good at sharing our perfect moments in today’s world, and really bad at showing ourselves when we’re vulnerable. We’re always trying to one-up our friends. My baby is cuter because he did this. I can afford a better restaurant.
I’m not saying we always do this. But think about it. We look at all our friends and we think they have it all figured out, the perfect life, judging by their Facebook feed. But when they look at yours, your photos, the food you ate yesterday, the photo of you having fun, with or without your boyfriend or girlfriend, the people looking at your Facebook profile are also thinking “He/She seems to have such a good life. I wish I was more like …”. Because that is what Social Media is doing to us today.
Stop worrying so much. You can’t change the seconds passing every day any more than you can stop the moon from moving on that beautiful night of yours. The only things that matter is the moment you are in now, and not even the far future. Worry about now, and tomorrow. The foreseeable future. Do what you can to make the world a better place today, and see the effect of that change tomorrow. Look back at your own life. List all the things you have done, the places you have been, the people you have met and the memories you have shared and I can almost guarantee, you’ll be pleased with yourself.
I know I am. I have done a lot, achieved a lot, explored a lot, seen a lot and I have loved a lot. I am proud of who I am, where I am and how I made my own path here. I’ll go on and do great things in the future and I don’t give a s*** how old I am when I achieve my goals, because the only thing for me more important than reaching my goals is the journey and the challenged I faced along the way. And frankly, in most cases, sometimes you need to be older to have the experience and the wisdom to make the right choice.
Enjoy your life now. Don’t let the future ruin you. Make plans, but make them flexible, because suddenly, your whole world will change. You meet that special someone, you get an amazing job offer, your girlfriend/wife gets pregnant, you decide to move across the globe or travel the world. Opportunity is here, all you have to do, is seize the moment. The moment is now!