It’s crazy, but I recently turned 27, which is a bit too close to 30 for comfort. Way too close. And because I recently pulled myself out of the slump I’d been in for years -the long depressive slump where I didn’t know what I want to do in life- over half a year ago, I feel as though I’d just started living. Just started living my 20s like I’m supposed to when, according to society’s idealised timeline, I should’ve settled down and have children of my own by now.
A thought which, needless to say, terrifies me. This supposed timeline is also the reason why I feel as though I’m pressed for time. Pressed for time to study, pressed for time to achieve at work (it’s one of the sole reasons why I chose to work for my current company. I’ve always had a good impression of it, plus I knew there’s a lot of room for growth in the role), pressed for time to have it altogether.
And to a certain extent, pressed for time to find a life partner, though this point exists more so because of societal standards than anything else. Left to my own devices, I’d be very nonchalant about the entire idea, and would unwaveringly continue with my “if it happens, it happens” mindset. You know, all while my mother excitedly chatters in the background about her desire for grandchildren. LOL.
That is not to say I behave any differently because of those standards. Sure, I might feel the pressure internally, but I don’t act on it. Because at the end of the day, I’d rather be single than be with the wrong person.
I feel absolutely comfortable in my own skin- maybe a bit too much, because my own friends have started lecturing me too. 🙁 And strangers… I swear, there’s no peace for single women over the age of 25. I’m just thankful my parents don’t do this to me, despite my mom’s excitement over the idea of grandkids.
It’s times like these that I wish I’d been born male pffftt.
That aside, here are other things I learned over the past year:
Never have any expectations
It doesn’t matter what you do, people will always disappoint you- whether on purpose or without meaning to at all. It doesn’t matter if you’re the nicest person on Earth, there’ll always be someone out there who hates you. It doesn’t matter if you’re super pretty, not everyone will think you’re attractive. And heck, it doesn’t matter if you’ve done nothing but be kind to someone, there’ll always be someone who’ll talk shit about or backstab you.
Humans come in all shapes and sizes, not all of them are pleasant, not all of them have the same interests, not all of them come from the same background; there’s bound to be some conflict along the way.
For me, it is enough for me if I’m nice to people. If they don’t reciprocate my good will, that’s fine. At least I can go to sleep without a guilty conscience, knowing I’ve already done the best I can.
People and companionship are important
As a true introvert, I find the thought of socialising with people exhausting. Don’t get me wrong; I do enjoy hanging out with friends and family. It is just when it’s on a constant basis and with people I don’t know that it becomes a chore. Thankfully enough, I’ve forced myself to overcome most of my shyness when it comes to conversing with someone new, and have learned to speak and carry a conversation. It took a couple, or a lot of tries over the past year, but I finally managed it.
At first, I started small. I spoke to my parents’ friends, my colleagues, then worked my way up to strangers.
The reason for this 180 is that, along with the fact that I wanted to improve my social skills, I understood that people are important. My friends aren’t always going to be around. They’re already busy as it is with work, it’s only a matter of time before they move on with their lives and have families of their own. I’d hear from them even less then. And as selfish as it sounds, networking is essential to succeed in the working world.
As a final point on this matter, while this may conflict with my own nonchalant attitude towards marriage, I do acknowledge that it is important. Which is why I have a plan for what I’ll do should I end up still single well into my 40s-50s. I’ll just have to continue working hard to ensure it’s possible.
Health is an asset
And because I’m a bit of a vainpot, I have this fear of becoming fat. I don’t want to become morbidly obese, and I definitely don’t want to be so unhealthy that I’d have to struggle just to get up. That is not the future I want for myself, so I’m doing what I can to stay fit and healthy before things get out of hand.
I’m proud to say that this is a lesson I’ve not wavered in so far. I’ve improved my diet and have been exercising pretty regularly since last year, and hence have been enjoying the benefits that have with it so far.
That said, I kind of slacked off this month because I had a pretty bad fall two weeks ago and injured my knee. Eugh. So upset over the amount of exercise I had to miss out on. 🙁
Never stop growing (skill acquisition)
This might sound terribly condescending, but I’ve seen people who, despite being in their 30s, do absolutely nothing for themselves. They’re content to stay exactly the same way they are. They have no interest in learning, no interest in becoming better, no interest in even saving money. They’re fine with spending money left and right and have absolutely no intention of moving out of their parents’ house.
I mean, I know times are hard. It’s not that easy to buy property, and even with renting, it’s hard to save with the size of our salaries. But when you’re living with your parents, you have the golden opportunity to save up for your own home. Why waste it? Something about the whole thing just reeks, and the fact that many of these people are content to just do pointless, easy work makes it worse.
People have the right to live life the way they want. But seeing something like this makes me panic. It was an intense wake up call that led me towards always striving to learn. I’d always prided myself for placing importance on personal growth, now I had growth through skill acquisition to balance it.
I honestly don’t know how some people can be so calm about living in such a way, though. I’m always painfully aware of just how disposable I am as an employee, especially since I’m in the writing industry. I’m sure that if I’d continued relying on only English, it will backfire on me in the long run. I might be able to enjoy a couple of years just writing in English, but once I reach a certain age, my age will play against me. What employer, in this era of globalisation, would want to hire an expensive, English-only writer when they can hire someone younger, less expensive and who has more languages under their belt? This change is already happening. Less and less companies demand for only one language. More and more are demanding for employees who can write and speak in 3-4 languages. Some even ask for a whopping 5!
The job market is getting more and more competitive, and I have no intention of becoming so easily replaced when I’m older.
Never stop growing (personal growth & skill acquisition)
I’m always, always finding fault in myself. Not so much because I have low self-esteem, nothing like that. It’s more because I know that as humans, we’re flawed. Myself included. I’m always mulling over a flaw I have, or something I’ve done wrong, and wondering what I can do to improve or fix it.
Another thing about me is that I love looking up to people who either have great personalities or are highly accomplished or both. Looks don’t matter to me. Which stands to reason that if I were to wish to pursue a relationship, I’d place importance on intelligence, hard work, ambition and kindness.
And with that in mind, at some point I knew if I really wanted to find and have someone like that in my life, I’d have to be like that too.