To a lot of people turning 30 has marked a daunting period in life, real adulthood, you should be married, settled down, having kids, home, car, allllllll your shit together, etc. So many relationship expectations, but what kind of woman isn’t settled down at this point? I used to look at it the same way, but it has seemed like an unreal expectation for me for awhile because 30 has been quickly approaching. I started accepting that I might not have these things by the time I was 30, and the more I accepted it the more I felt good about turning 30. So in a little under a month I will be celebrating the life I have lived and the life I am living, not the things I was told I should have and don’t.
Christmas 2015, I was playing the board game ‘Life’ with my niece and nephews. I was 26ish, they were between the ages of 6-10, we’re playing this board game and making moves. I’m trying to win, showing no mercy to the children of course. Rey asked me, “Aunt Alee, do you even want to have kids? You keep picking everything else over having kids”. Even the younger ones chimed in in agreeance and confusion. I was shocked lol that my 10 year old nephew was asking me this, judging me lol I laughed and said, “yea…maybe, eventually…when I’m ready”. At this point my sisters had already started their families and I’m the childless, single, crazy aunt- which I don’t mind being.
Sounds like a weird story to remember so vividly but this was the first time I’d ever felt super judged about not having kids or starting a family sooner. Most of my friends/family have children, spouses, or serious relationships by now. I won’t pretend like I didn’t notice how different my situation was than most peoples.
It was shoved in my face constantly. My students had always asked me why I didn’t have kids or a husband, it was shocking to them to be an adult woman without kids and/or a husband. I grew to expect it at work, the “oh don’t worry you’ll find someone” or “No husband, or boyfriend, really…” apparently being a single teacher is one of the most absurd situations that happens in a school. For awhile in my early 20s, especially at the beginning of my teaching career the pressure was on. I felt like I should be with someone and ended up in a relationship that wasn’t great, and even though I got a lot of pressure from my family to date, they still weren’t happy once I was in a relationship. Can’t please everyone, so might as well do what’s best for you, lesson learned.
That being said, it caught me off guard coming from the little ones in my family. Looking back I understand how from a child’s point of view it is strange. Growing up I think most girls are taught that you should aspire to be a mother and aspire to be a wife, that these are the most important parts of being woman.
Dealing with it
I always laugh it off, and say that it will come with time; husband, children, the whole shebang. As for now I get to be selfish. Not selfish in the negative connotation, but making decisions that are best for me without taking into account other people, I only have to worry about myself and learn what makes me happy. I get time to really dive into things I am passionate about. Of course I’d like to be married one day, meet someone stay in love, build, grow, all the good stuff, but that’s not what I have in life right now and that’s okay.
We all know people who have gotten married quickly or even after 10 years of dating because they felt that they had to and it didn’t work out. Or people that have had kids with someone they couldn’t stand. There’s no set formula or amount of time or age limit for relationships, marriage, kids, etc. There’s no simple one size fits all recipe to happiness. You should never be with someone or marry someone because you feel like you have to or you should be married by a certain time. Each relationship is a different living, breathing thing and should be treated that way.
So after a long time of hearing what I should have or how I should be living, & trying to please other people with my life choices, I started tuning out everyone else’s expectations of me.
What I stopped doing was saying, “by 30 I need to be this, or have this, have been to this place, etc”. It just doesn’t work, setting goals for yourself is great, your own goals and aspirations, not what society tells you. You can spend your whole life working for something that someone told you SHOULD have and achieve by the age limit you have set for yourself and be totally miserable at 30. Then other times something comes to you unexpectedly and you experience joy like you never anticipated. There’s no age minimum or maximum for that. There’s no age limit on love or opportunities.
Somewhere between ads telling us that at 25 we have too many wrinkles and that we don’t eat enough kale, we lose sight of the wonders of everyday living where the magic happens. And this is where love is. Not in the age limits, gaps, restrictions, and expectations, but in daily life, in the simple shit that we can’t plan or foresee that effect our whole beings.
We have lived so long according to other’s expectations or ideas of who we should be that we miss ourselves. We spend so much time planning for what we want that we miss all the living in between.
So take time to enjoy the living in between the goals and milestones. Set yourself free from the fear of turning another year older and not quite having everything in your life together. Take your time to learn yourself and grow as individual, don’t get caught up in your age and the expectations that come with it. Each new year is a gift with its own twists and turns and bumps, but it is a gift. Life is short, love each other and make the most of what you have.