When asked 5 years ago 'where do you see yourself in 5 years' time?', the majority of us were hopeful to be somewhere further than we are.
In approximately five months I will be 30 years old. I will be in the next decade, chapter, stage of my life and I don't think I would be human if I didn't admit it terrifies me. No one likes the idea of getting older it always makes us feel mortal, vulnerable, old, reminiscent of the good old days when I was (insert preferred age).
Every friend I have spoken to lately is in the same position and like me has anxiety about this particular milestone. At the risk of having a Rachel from friends meltdown on the day I wanted to understand what it is about this particular milestone that has us freaking out and crying into our cornflakes.
I have come to the conclusion it is not so much the being a year older, or the unknown of what is to come. Although we have all heard the horror stories...
"it's all down hill when you hit the big 30, they say "you will get hangovers for the first time or they will be worse days of suffering after a night out" they say "you will battle more with your weight, your body will start to sag, your skin will lose it's elasticity and you will start to age" they say.
I have come to the conclusion it is more to do with what we haven't achieved. When we were asked 5 years ago where do you see yourself in 5 years time the majority of us were hopeful to be somewhere further than where we are. We all thought that by 30 we would be (insert your own goal) and 9 out of 10 of us don't feel like we are where we hoped we would be. We are disappointed in ourselves and fearful that we have wasted our 20's.
I think it’s also to do with the 30 milestone itself. In our 20's we can be excused of not having all the answers for not having it all mapped out, not being dream job or the perfect relationship because we are only in our 20's. We are still discovering who we are, some of us for the early part will have still been in education or travelling. The majority of us won't have been thinking of committing to a relationship, settling down, reaching the dizzy heights in our career, buying a house, knowing exactly where we are going, how we are getting there. But in our 30's we expected to have achieved most if not all our ambitions or be well on the way to getting there.
So when we look at our lives and realise that we don't have all the answers and we are not where we thought we would be it scares us. We are also grappling with the fact that this is the first birthday where we have really not wanted to be a year older. Before you may have preferred to by 25 rather than 26 but it didn't really matter, 30 on the other hand feels like a massive milestone. Some celebrities we respect, admire, listen to, fancy even are now younger than us. People we work with are younger than us. Suddenly we feel old. I feel like I am Bridget Jones, when she goes to dinner with the smug married couples and is asked "why are there so many unmarried women in their 30's Bridget?"
At 25 my five year plan looked something like, be happily married, be successful, own my own business, living in my ideal home and having enough disposable income to live life to the full and planning to start a family. Granted it was ambitious, but I have always had ambition.
What actually happened was I got divorced at 27, spent my savings buying him out and starting my own business which failed through because of my lack of confidence and dependence on others. I am single, not living in my dream home and emotionally I am recovering from the hardest year of my life having been stalked and losing everything including my purpose and self worth. Panic stations I am heading for an early life crisis, I will be Rachel crying into my cornflakes, wearing pyjamas and a paper crown.
I made a promise to myself that this year I am going to put myself in charge of my life I am not going to rely on others or circumstances out of my control to dictate my happiness or well being. Instead I am going to live my life my way and be grateful for what I have achieved.
I moved to London and was on my first mortgage at 19. At 21 I coped with losing a parent. I fell in love, got engaged, bought another house, got married. I did also get divorced but with no regrets, I loved him at the time. Also had the guts to walk away with no regrets or resentment, I wish him well.
I grew my career, knowledge and experience. Worked with some incredible people, and made some lifelong friends. Travelled to some beautiful places, seen some incredible events. Helped others, given blood, raised money for charity, and even crossed some off my bucket list.
Okay so I am not as far along as I would like to be and I have made mistakes but I know what I want. I treat others how I want to be treated and give my all to everything I do, which at times has got me into some sticky situations and even cut me deeply, but I am a fast healer. I would rather give it my all and fail than not achieve.
"failure is nothing more than a chance to revise your strategy" ~ Sissy Gavrilaki
So now at peace with my past, what can I expect for my next decade, surely it can't all be downhill? Actually I have heard from a number of women that their 30's were their favourite decade, when they reached their sexual peak and felt most comfortable in their own skin.
For me, my ambitions have not changed, I still want success in my career, to meet someone, have a family, make a difference, experience more and live a great life.. I still believe I am capable of achieving my goals with more clarity, confidence and drive and determination than before.
On the day itself I will be celebrating with those I love, eating, drinking and being merry in the South of France. Not crying into my cornflakes, the “I hate my life pyjamas” will be staying at home.
I hope this has been food for thought, whatever age you are I hope you can make peace with your past and use it drive you forward with gratitude and determination to create a compelling future.
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