Part 1 of 2 on the theme of aging.
Last weekend, I turned 29. I know I’m not alone in finding birthdays a horribly tempting opportunity to measure oneself against peers, societal expectations, and one’s own goals, and I’ve had my fair share of aging-related freakouts in the last few years. In 2010, I noticed, in the mirror of a public toilet, my very first grey hair. After alarming my partner with a pale-faced and sombre “something terrible just happened in the bathroom”, I proceeded to hyperventilate, pointing out that I’d reached 27 without producing a baby or a phd, and inferring that I pretty much failed at life.
I like to think I’ve become less ridiculous since then (lord knows, I could hardly have grown more so). There have been periods when the ticking of my “biological clock” has been deafening, which caused some internal conflict. When you spend a lot of your professional and personal time deconstructing gender, it’s galling to realise that your womb actually isn’t a social construct. But by acknowledging the fact that my baby-growing parts have a physiologically-determined, un-deconstructable [yep, I’m making that a word] use-by date, and that this is going to inform a lot of my decision-making over the next 5-10 years, I seem to have put my biological clock onto snooze for the time being. Just don’t show me tiny shoes.
Having found my equilibrium with my late twenties, I have, nonetheless, had a persistent and vaguely unsettling thought since we entered 2012: I’m Going To Be Thirty Next Year. What does that mean? What are women in their thirties like?
In the beautiful, serendipitous way in which the universe sometimes provides precisely what we need, I have, over the past 2 months, met a series of exceptionally cool and inspiring thirty-something women. Smart, warm, self-aware, and authentic, these are women who seem to have their shit together: not in the “Career? Tick! Mortgage? Tick! Baby? Tick!” sense, but in the sense of being secure and grounded, yet welcoming of and energised by change. Meeting these dynamic women, who are fully engaging with their unique journeys, highlighted that I’ve been conceptualising the next decade of my life as a destination. Where I thought that 30 was a place I was supposed arrive at in 12 months’ time, I now feel like it’s part of a process: a process, if these women are anything to go by, by which I will get more awesome. I’m looking forward to it.