I used to measure my life in 30s. I don’t know when I started doing this, but it certainly became more apparent as I crawl through my early 20s.
Every time I thought about my future, it would always go like this:
Before 30, I want to work at X and Y
Before 30, I want to go to graduate school
Before 30, I want to be a badass career woman
Before 30, I want to become the hip girl who regularly goes to happy hours
Most people think that having a laundry list of goals to achieve before turning a certain age is motivational to some extent, evident in the astonishing amount of corny 30 things you must do before you turn 30 articles online. I also thought that this was merely a pseudo-motivational internal spirit that I thought I had. Looking back, it was most likely a confirmation bias caused by the much-acclaimed Forbes 30 under 30 titles adorning the profiles of high-achieving Linkedin stars here and there.
A few weeks ago, one of my good friends was telling me about her trips around Europe. She was casually mentioning her travel plans for later this year when it hit me.
I won’t be able to travel the world (because I need to become a badass career woman— before 30)
I won’t be able to work abroad (because I need to find a husband and stay home — before 30)
I won’t be able to open a juice bar and become a hippie (because I need to achieve X and Y — before 30)
I realized, I was more trapped than motivated. The image I had drawn for myself was so far away from my friends’ reality of catching budget flights in and out of Paris. I realized that I wanted that. So much. But I only had less than 10 years to accomplish all my big life goals. I might not even get to achieve any of those in such a short time, let alone take a 2-week leave to sail the Greek isles?
What I saw as “motivational” quickly became terrifying. There was no way any of my dreams could ever become a reality. I felt like my whole life had been written out for me and that the book had been shut. I realized that I had found myself not living in the moment many times, because I was too busy being anxious thinking about how I can pack all my life goals into a single decade. The looming fear of “running out of time” seemed so real that I forgot I was actually closer to being 21 than turning 30.
I realized that I never really looked forward to being 30. If anything, I dread turning 30, which kind of beats the entire purpose of motivational thought.
Why was I so fixated with age 30?
Why was I planning literally my entire life within this particular timeframe, as if I didn’t have more years to live? I tried to recall the things I want for later years but came up with nothing. I realized that I had never even thought of life after 30. Why did I stop there?
Is 30 a magic number? Some hypotheses:
- Jesus started doing miracles at 30
- Jennifer Garner was in 13 going on 30
- My family’s mega-church preacher is famously known for a book called Before 30, his turning point before dedicating his life to God
- Forbes’ has a 30 before 30 list, not 50 before 50
But I’m no Jesus. I’m most definitely not Jennifer Garner. I doubt that I understood a Christian book that I read in elementary school. And I’ve had this mindset way before I even cared about what Forbes was all about. So it’s rather strange that 30 matters so much to me personally…
S2-nya nggak bisa setahun aja? Kalau lama kuliah tahun kapan nikahnya…
Jangan telat-telat lho, keburu susah kalau di atas 30…
Mesti punya anak pertama sebelum 30 lah, bahaya…
…Unless I have always been taught this way. Where did these people even learn about this? I wish people knew about heart health as much as they seem to master my reproductive health.
30 was never my finish line. It was my expiry date.
All this time, I had this narrative that I was in a rush. I had been living under the constant fear of running out of time. The fear of having to cut my life short to bear children. So I planned to do everything I want before giving up my body— hopes and dreams— to the divine duty of creating little lives. Oh, the irony!
But I have decided to change the narrative. 30 will no longer be my finish line because I will decide when I want to be finished. Not a biological myth from god knows where. The truth is, I don’t want to start a family anytime soon. I don’t need to either.
And that is OK. Even if other people don’t seem to agree.
I have decided that I want to continue living young even as I grow older. There is nothing I need to give up just for the sake of being more “adult”, and starting a family shouldn’t be seen as a sign of adulthood. Removing that predetermined time limit is like rediscovering the chapters in my book that I haven’t written yet. Better yet, I don’t even have to write it now.
Don’t get me wrong, I do want kids. But there’s a difference between having kids when one wants to versus when one has to. Having children is a big deal and I want to do it right. So, for girls who are also thinking the same but at the same time worried about pregnancy health risks, let me tell you that the age when pregnancy risks actually start to increase exponentially is 35 — not 30. At least according to WebMD.
I know that it seems pretty close to 30, but 5 extra years can mean a lot for someone in her 20s. Especially because I know that I’ll be doing it in my own time.
I guess there’s no reason for me to rush for now — unless my birth control screws up.