I am currently an Africa-born woman aged 29, but this will change in the next few days as the big 30 comes knocking at my door. In honour of this auspicious event, I figured I could jot down some thoughts about my experiences so far and most importantly what it feels to be 29-going-on-30.
When I was in primary and high school, I used to say “when I grow up, I want to be… (It changed over the years and I don’t remember all my careers – I do recall doctor at some point)”. By the time I got to university this changed to “I am studying XX so that I can become YY”.
Now, some years and a few degrees later, I am proud to say that I am working – and not in the field of my degrees. Why? Well, that is a long story for another day but I am where I need to be as I am chasing my dreams. This brings me to the most important lessons I have learnt:
Nothing ever happens according to plan. It is all about adapting to whatever challenge life throws at you – learn to make lemonade out of the lemons, or use them for a tequila shot or two… However, don’t let the challenges stop you from pursuing your dreams
Speaking of expectations, there is one aspect where I would be found lacking according to African society standards – The expectations as an African woman which include, amongst others
- Finding a suitable man (by societal or parental standards)
- Getting married as soon as possible, preferably before the age of 25 (as we are expected to be virgin brides and have no kids out of wedlock)
- Start extending the family as soon as possible with a baby or two or three…..or six
So as an unmarried woman, I am not meeting societal expectations. In addition, I do get asked on a regular basis: Why aren’t you married? When are you getting married? Why don’t you have any kids? When are you having kids? Don’t you like kids?? This brings me to my next important lesson:
Just because everyone is doing something, it does not mean you should too. Everything at its own time. In addition having kids is more than carrying a child for nine months and then raising the kid until they are 18, to be let loose into the world. It is creating a human being from scratch and then moulding them into an adult that you hope will turn out okay and not the next mass murderer.
However, nothing will ever prepare you for loss – the death of a child, friend, or loved one. It creates a gap in your heart that nothing will ever fill and that you will have learn to live with and cope with the pain which will ease and become more bearable with time….and until then you will need to: Keep Going No Matter What!
Now for the final, and most important lesson:
Have FUN! Life is too short not to do what you want and enjoy it, because the past is done but the present is a gift for the future. So Carpe Diem!
For those of you who don’t want to read through the whole thing, here is a short summary. So all in all, life at 30 means:
- Getting up every morning, especially when you don’t feel like it
- Choosing to smile when all you want to do is cry
- Continuing to chase after your dreams even when everyone around you says they are crazy (including the voice in your head)
- Trying not to worry too much because odds are today’s problems won’t matter in 5 years
- HAVE FUN and keep the faith. It’s all part of God’s plan for you.
Most importantly, live on….
Article written on 18th June 2017.