I’ve always wanted to be older. When I was a teenager, I couldn’t wait to be a grown-up, have my own place, be independent. When I went to study and had my first apartment, I couldn’t wait to work and earn my own money. All my life I’ve had older friends, fascinated by their lives and envious of what they already had done, the places they’d been to, all the things they could do, who they’d met. I think I was also always happy to be “the young one”. The baby of the group.
I’m not really scared of turning thirty – I’ve been ready for it all my life. But now that it’s time, I suddenly realise something else: turning thirty means saying goodbye to your twenties. And that’s something completely different. Your twenties are like ten years of possibilities and experimentation: you can do pretty much anything. You feel like everything is eternal and all you have are options. Endless options. To a point where it freaks you out! You can’t choose. You can turn your life upside down three, four times if you want. At the end of it, you’re still young, hopeful, inspired.
The thing is, after ten years of doing that, you start feeling like you’re going in circles. You reach your thirties. It’s too late to be a young prodigy – too late too late for your fantasy of ever being a “30 under 30”. You get wiser, a bit cynical maybe. You become harder on yourself, bitter sometimes, you start doubting yourself and losing some battles. You start loosing people. For the first time, you realise everything around you is crumbling and you can’t really do anything about it. The older you will get, the worse it will become. For you and for others. You don’t get used to it.
Life used to feel like it was all about possibilities, now it feels like you’re just grabbing whatever you can and holding on to it, hoping it will still be there the next day. Death, sickness, loneliness, anxiety, depression… now, you know what it looks like, what it does, it becomes a part of your daily life and you learn to adapt. You care more for your mind and for your body. You understand the importance of managing your stress, you learn to be less scared of confrontation and better organised. You help others doing the same. You take some distance, you choose priorities, you save money, you make thoughtful decisions. You go to sleep early because you want to enjoy a long day tomorrow.
You start referring to yourself as a woman (or a man), because you realise that’s how people see you now – even though you still feel like a girl (or a boy). Song lyrics still get to you like they used to 15 years ago. You still feel the depth of your emotions in every inch of your body like the teenager you were back then.
You’ve met many people through all these years, but still you realise more than ever how alone you are. And you’re okay with it, you’re not scared of being alone anymore. You enjoy your own company. You understand what it means when they say you can count your friends on one hand. You’re lucky if it’s one full hand. You get used to getting ghosted, only because you try putting together parties that involve other people than the 5 you text with on a daily or weekly basis. You learn the truth about friendships: that some will last forever even if they seem chaotic and go through regular rough patches. That some people you really care about, don’t care as much about you. And all you can do is move on, let go. After all, if there’s one thing you don’t need when you get older, it’s wasting time.
Time has always freaked me out. How it’s a one way street, how every day takes us closer to the end, and everything is irreversible. There is no time to waste.
If you would have asked me ten years ago where I’d be right now, I would only be sure about one thing: I’d have one, maybe even two kids. That was always a constant in my plans: I wanted to be a mother before I turned thirty. I liked the idea of being a young mother, I love babies, I just couldn’t wait. Then I got busy, I got into other things. I learned to be a grown up. I worked, non stop. My life went from boring to chaotic, back to boring and so on. I traveled near and far.
Then I got a dog. And I know, “it’s not the same”, but come on. It kind of is. For me, it was what taught me I wasn’t ready to be a mother. Over the course of the years, I’ve just come to enjoy my freedom too much, and I’m not ready to give up on that just yet. A dog already feels so overwhelming sometimes, and a recent medical scare with Biceps gave me a good idea of what it feels like to be a parent, constantly being terrified that something will happen to your offspring. Don’t get me wrong, I still want babies. But fuck my biological clock, it will wait until it feels right.
For now, I still need to figure out who I am and where I’m going. Other than that, I feel great, I can still recover from hangovers, I don’t have any major medical issue, and I still have a few good years before people actually think I am thirty and not an intern. Can’t complain!
Goodbye, twenties. It’s been real.