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Monday, October 25, 2010

Singlutionary's 30th Birthday Eve

I am writing this in the last 45 minutes of my 20s.

Over the past few years, I've gone through a wide range of emotions about turning 30, especially while single. Some of these feelings surprised me: I didn't know that certain insecurities or desires existed until I felt like the chance for them was drawing to a close.

Two years and some odd months ago, I was in a relationship which seemed like bliss for about two months and then unwound into months of turmoil. During the good times, I remember thinking: "I will be married by the time I'm 30 after all." I was surprised by how relieved and proud I felt. In marrying before 30, I would be accomplishing something that everyone could understand. Through marriage, I would prove to the world and, more importantly, to my family and friends near and far that I was worthy of undivided love, that I was attractive, sexually vital and successful in the most basic human way. I would be a good person, a good woman and by extension, a good friend, niece, daughter, cousin.

I had never realized how alienated I had felt from my friends and from most of my family because of my typically single status. I never realized how much people people worried about me, even pitied me because they felt something essential was missing in my life. I had no idea how much I had internalized this feeling.

When I thought that I would be married within the conventional timeframe, I felt, for the first time ever, that I had some kind of magic ticket to normalcy that I had always yearned for but had never been given.

At that time I was still only 27.

Since then, I have mulled over my fear of turning 30 and have come to face this new decade (now only 31 minutes away) with excitement and relief instead of fear and angst.

My late 20s were not easy. They were full of career failures, financial struggles, personal loss and general confusion. In many ways, it won't be hard to say goodbye to the consternation and frustration and grief of recent years.

And I'm not 20 anymore and I know things about the world. I have experience -- lots of it. And experience is something that can never be taken away from me. I've survived things that I never thought I would have to face.

I had a crisis just a few months ago when I first began to consider setting out on the long road towards a PhD. I realized that by choosing to commit the next 7 years to academic life, the opportunity to have biological children very well might pass me by. At the time I was slightly involved with a man who very much wanted wholesome biological children raised on milk and wheat bread. I mentioned my potential PhD aspirations to him during our last real phone conversation. Two weeks later he flippantly bowed out of our travel arrangements and said something about incompatibility. And that was it.

In the past 10 years I have learned that in choosing one thing, I am also NOT choosing so many others. Spending most of my 30s in school may very well end up being a choice against having a kid that carries my genetics although it doesn't eliminate my chance to be a parent.

And I am OK with that. If being pregnant and giving birth to my own spawn was super important to me, I would have chosen so many different ways to spend my 20s. I've always wanted to adopt older children and I've always known that by doing so, I can buy myself some time against the generation gap: If I am 40 and adopt a 7 year old, the generation gap isn't quite as huge as it would be if I gave birth at 40.

I am no longer afraid of being an old maid. I know that I will have companionship. And I know that it will be unconventional. I've lived my life out of order and upside down and I can't expect to suddenly grow up and start doing everything the typical way. The typical way has never made sense for me. Its not going to start making sense just because my looks and fertility are starting to fade.

I have a rich life and many talents. And I am going to use them. If nothing else, I am going to live life on my own terms. My 20s were about figuring out what I wanted to do. My 30s are going to be about doing it.

To actually realize my dreams instead of just dreaming them is at once exhilarating and intimidating. But that is where I'm headed.

I've got 9 minutes left. And then I'm ringing in the next decade of wonderment.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

What a great, well-written "countdown". Hope that you were carrying a big smile into your birthday .... :-)

i0l...

Anonymous said...

PS - I forgot to do the most important thing .... wish you a big big and very happy birthday!!! :-)

Hope you had a great day :-)

i0la..

hebba said...

Happy Birthday!! When I turned 30, someone asked me how it felt to turn 30. I replied: "About 100 times better than it felt to turn 15."
30's are easier than 20's.

Anonymous said...

Welcome to a wonderful world.

I shared many of your sentiments prior to turning 30. I even wrote to friends about how stressed I was feeling. One was my Nana, who replied along the lines of, "it's always hard, first I thought I was old at turning 30, then came 40, then 50 then.... (she turned 80 just after I turned 30!!). She's still taking herself to Australia and chatting up attractive young men, btw.

Anyway, I too was in a relationship in my 20s, and when the guy asked if I'd marry him I too felt I'd "arrived". So safe! No matter my instincts were against the relationship, I'd arrived! Have to say I was almost relieved when we finally had good cause to separate (without ever having married, I might add!).

I had the most traumatic event of my life so far in my early 30s - and am only 32 now! Being workplace bullying. I am so glad to have survived the experience - even although I still suffer PT stress from it - because I have learnt more about myself and others / human frailties / fears that make people bully. In my 20s, I realise I was living more by others' rules. In my 30s, I find I am living more by my inner compass. Or should I say, learning to! Old habits die hard.

What's more, we're still young! People live so much longer these days. I too have embarked on study again (whilst working too, to keep the money coming in - it's hard!) - I love learning, and doing so with others - and if a romance comes along in anyone's life that is true fun and compatability, I don't think it would "not arrive" just because someone was studying, however long or short it may last. So enjoy your PhD!

Again, welcome to the club xx

onely.org said...

Happy Birthday Singlutionary! And you're 30? You're still a baby. = ) It only gets better!!

Christina

~Natalie~ said...

I totally understand where you're at. I struggled with the Ph.D. while watching my friends get jobs, get raises, and have weddings and babies. It's a different path but you sound like you're on solid ground. Happy belated birthday and welcome to the wrong side of thirty! (btw my blog is onthewrongsideofthirty.blogspot.com)

eleanore said...

You're going to be fine. I can tell because you sound smart and have given this lifestage you're now in a lot of thought. And embraced it, most importantly. I think the most important thing is to do what feels right for you...not what feels right to everybody else.

It really does get better. I'm long past my 30s, never had a husband or child, and I have a great life. Whatever decisions you make, just make sure they're coming from your heart.

Happy Birthday...and enjoy the ride!


www.TheSpinsterliciousLife.com

The Singlutionary said...

Thank you for all the wonderful bday wishes and assurances. Turning 30 was like turning on a big switch inside myself. I feel empowered now in ways that I didn't before! Its only been a week but its been a good one!

Dazedlittlemiss said...

Happy Birthday! Glad you are enjoying being 30.

Special K said...

What I love right now is the POWER in your voice. Of course, there will always be unknowns in life, and the things you can't control. And yet...after turning 30, there is more of a sense of WHO I AM. And the tuning is enhanced when you do something against your nature.
Companionship....any one who is with you is lucky. I know that our support "sharpens" me.

But when you say "on my own terms" what does that look like specifically?
Do you have a list?

Aileen said...

Enjoy life and make good use of your talents. That's living with a purpose, single or not. Your story is inspiring. Keep it up! I like what you said about not being afraid of being an old maid. Go girl!