“I’m worried… I’m almost 30 years old — I don’t have a boyfriend and I’m still trying to figure out what I should do with my life…,” said a friend of mine over a drink the other day.
My first reaction was to calm her down. I told her to relax and said, “The 30s are the new 20s”.
She smiled at my response and we continued our night forgetting about her statement.
However, the next day I got to thinking about what she had said. When I turned 30, I had a similar feeling, although my reality was very different from hers.
When I was 29 years old, I gave up my job and moved across the world to Malaysia with my new boyfriend (now my husband). I moved to a foreign country and worked as a trainee. I was not getting paid much at all but I was having the time of my life.
Suddenly, though, as my “biological clock” approached 30, some questions started to arise. “What am doing with my life? Should I get married? Do I want kids? Should I stay here in Malaysia?”
The problem wasn’t the questions necessarily, but how the questions made me feel. I was anxious, distressed, nervous — feeling like something needed to happen soon… just like how my friend felt.
But why is it that both of us felt this was as we approached our 30s? Is this a common feeling amongst women, or even men?
I did some quick research, and it showed, that this is indeed more common today — more and more people are experiencing what they call the “quarter life crisis”.
And so, I decided to play a little “game”.
Now that I’m turning 37 this year (oh yes!) I imagined what it would be like to get into a time machine, one like the DeLorean (oh you can tell how old I am with that reference!). I imagined what it would be like to go back to the past, meet my 29-year-old self who was just beginning her adventures in Kuala Lumpur… and to give her a letter with some advice on what I know today.
I think this message would have saved the younger Marina from a lot of self-doubt and unnecessary stress.
If you know someone who is in the same situation, forward this to her. Spread the karma. 🙂
Letter To An Almost 30-Year-Old Woman (aka what I would say to my younger self)
Dear wonderful woman,
Your 30th birthday is approaching so officially, you are not a girl anymore, but a woman.
And if I know you, I bet you are not having the best time. You may be thinking: “What am I doing with my life? Should I get married? Should I get ready for kids soon?” or something along those lines.
If you feel like the above, read this. It might just help:
1. It is not the end of the world: I know that in this moment, turning 30 seems like THE most important thing in the world but trust me — it is not. It’s an important milestone for everyone but don’t let that number that is creeping up take over your thoughts and feelings. After all, nobody knows what they are doing and as Steve Jobs said in this incredible speech: “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards.” So relax, everything is okay and you are exactly where you’re supposed to be. When you look back, everything that has ever happened in your life will make perfect sense.
2. Don’t compare (please!): You will definitely have a friend who is at the top of her professional career, another one who just got married to the most amazing man, and maybe even one who has turned her passion into a business and loving it. We all know someone who is “happy” or “successful”. But, please don’t compare yourself to others. It is harmful behaviour and will lead you only into sadness and despair. Instead, learn to surrender in life, listen more your intuition and follow what you deeply believe is good for yourself.
3. You are in control of your life: That may scare the shit out of you but it shouldn’t. Honor it. That is the most beautiful thing for anyone, if they can just realise that. Use this power to make better choices for your health, career, love life — anything you want. Walk away from bad habits, companions or situations. Enjoy your own company and do something worthwhile that makes you happy and proud to show to your grandchildren someday.
4. You don’t need kids: It is important to say that not all women need children in their lives. And that is okay. If you are feeling insecure about this issue, don’t make any rash decisions, and be sure to think this one out carefully. There is no hurry. You can still have kids way over your 40s so, listen to your true desires and respect them. Nobody knows better what’s good for you than you.
5. The best is yet to come: Believe me. You are in always in your “best moment”. Don’t be afraid to dream (there is no dream too big or too small). It is okay to change your mind, to take risks and learn. Never stop learning and evolving, you can be anything you want.
6. Forgive yourself and others: Your 30th birthday is the perfect moment to step back and practice forgiveness. Forgive your parents for anything you may blame them for (remember that they did what they could with the resources they had), forgive old relationships and most of all… forgive yourself. It is okay to make mistakes, don’t be too harsh on yourself and use this time to start fresh.
7. Take care of yourself: This is the perfect time to start better habits. Practice some sports, get on a healthier diet. Be kind to your body, your mind and with others. Respect yourself and others.
And finally, be kind to yourself, dear amazing woman. Know that you’re always trying your best, and that life is all about joy. So go forth, live life, and most importantly, remember to have fun along the way.
Your older, happier and wiser self.