A new series, hollaaa
Well, hello lovely people!
This week we’re starting a fun new series on a topic that affects all of us: aging. Or as I have dubbed this series, “Gettin’ Grown.” As womxn, age plays such a huge role in how we see ourselves, how we relate to others, and what we believe is possible. From big things like career and relationships to smaller things like how we style ourselves or what we eat, our age determines so much of how we live.
For Black women specifically, as we age we are more likely to suffer from some of the highest levels of diabetes, hypertension, and other disabilities. Because we tend to outlive our partners, we are also more susceptible to being alone and isolated as we deal with health & wealth issues, according to data shared in a 2016 Cigna Health Disparities report.
While that was super doom and gloomy, this is the reality. And so in the spirit of being present and living for today, for the next few weeks, the “Gettin’ Grown” series aims to showcase and commemorate how beautiful, frustrating, awkward (cc: Chloe Bailey), and completely normal ups and downs of aging.
If you want to pitch a personal essay tied to “Gettin’ Grown,” please send your story idea to email@example.com.
Also, if you’re 30+, drop a comment with a few words describing how you felt when you turned 30. The good, the bad, and the ugly, please!
This Week’s Story
Ahhh, 30. That age. The infamous age our culture tells us so much about, and whether ambivalent, apathetic, or excited, we all feel some type of way about. I turned 30 not too long ago and let me tell you, I was so excited. So many of the women I looked up to were in their 30s and they just seemed so self-assured & confident. In my 20s, I was absolutely not even close to any of those things so 30 just seemed like a time where I’d magically have all my shit together.
Well, just like this week’s author, Eve Waitherero from Kenya, explains—yeah, that would be a no. We’ve been told that 30 is the magical age where all of a sudden adulting comes second-nature, and we trade all of our bad habits to be on our grown woman ish, oh, and now we’re going to be married, with child, and successful. Chile, 30 is just your third decade on Earth. While some of us may have been able to get a lot of our shit together by 30, a lot of us are still finding our way—and that’s OK! It can be a big deal, because it has been made into one by every TV show and movie you’ve ever seen so sometimes spiraling when getting older is just what’s on the menu.
Hope you enjoy this series!
EIC of Carefree
I Turned 30 And Started Questioning Everything
by Eve Waitherero
For almost all of my life, I’ve felt an intense, suffocating pressure to achieve everything I want before my youth slips away. Thirty™ was my deadline to have my career, finances, and love-life “figured out”.
As the eldest child, I have always carried this weight to be the first to tick everything off the list and set a great example for my younger siblings. Right before my 28th birthday, I remember standing in my kitchen sobbing and having a mini panic attack. I had suddenly “woken up” to the realization that I was exiting my twenties. I legit remember calling my mother to ask her about my date of birth and to confirm whether I was truly turning 28—it was that bad.
Fast-forward two years later, and this time around I was damn sure that I was indeed turning the mammoth age of 30™. I recalled my panic attack at 28, and decided to give myself a pep talk to avoid letting my brain bully me into a funk—my efforts were futile. There I was on Tuesday morning, the 10th of August, waking up to “Happy Birthday” texts that I didn’t bother to reply to until later that evening. I got ready and went to work as usual, and that’s when it suddenly hit me: I felt alone and unaccomplished. I wanted more out of my life and I didn’t understand why I wasn’t where I wanted to be. I just sat at my desk contemplating every life choice I’d ever made.
Why does everyone make such a big fuss about turning 30? I’ve always had this vision of my life at thirty™ but it looks much different from the life I’m living right now. This was not the dirty thirty that I had pictured for years on end full of dancing, booze, and a wild one-week girls’ trip to Bali. Instead, it was a day filled with stress, introspection, and anxiety. I now realize this wave of uncertainty I was facing was due to an influx of subliminal messaging I became aware of. Society says buy a house, have a husband, baby and thriving career all by the age of thirty™. And if you’re not in some incredibly stable place in your life, or still figuring things out, then you must be failing.
My mind was racing; I don’t have a lot of friends, I am not married, I don’t have kids, I am not a world-renowned makeup artist nor have I brought world peace; heck I don’t even know what legacy I want to leave. I just couldn’t shake off this idea of the fact that I am “getting old”, yet not feeling “adult enough” due to not achieving these so-called milestones. Suddenly, my thoughts were interrupted by a call from my best friend. I contemplated ignoring it but after a few rings, I picked up the call to her enthusiastically singing the “Happy Birthday” song and that’s when the waterworks started.
I could barely get a word out to thank her for the warm wishes so I just hung up to avoid having that “what’s wrong” conversation. And truly, I wouldn’t even know where to start.
I knew at this point my work productivity hit rock bottom so I decided to head home. To my surprise, my mom and sister were there holding a six pound birthday cake with the big thirty™ written out in frosting on top. “Why does everyone seem so excited about my big day more than I am?” That was the first thought that crossed my mind, followed by, “Did they have to put the 30 on the cake?”
As I blew out the candles, I felt the three decades of my life flash before my eyes. Until now, I have floated along quite happily, never slowing down to think of my mortality. As I age, so too are the people around me that I love and I know that I will inevitably have to deal with loss in terms of death. The three strands of silver hair (yes, I counted them) that I see whenever I look at myself in the mirror have now become a constant reminder of my limited time on this planet.
I know it’s all in my head and I shouldn’t compare my life to others. Success is subjective and we all have different paths. Yet, I look around and it seems like I’m surrounded by peers who are achieving so much more with their lives. I can’t help but feel like I’m lagging, desperately trying to play catch-up as best as I can. I know that it’s up to me to decide which milestones I value, and which ones I’ve just been told to value based on the number of years I’ve been around. I know all of this, but it doesn’t make this looming feeling any less real. It’s been three months now into this new decade and I still have my moments of freaking out, but I’m slowly coming to the realization that there is no right way to be an adult.
Not knowing what I am doing, feeling anxious, learning as I go, all of that is yet another constant in life that should be discussed more in my social circles. Everyone’s story is unique. And as I settle into this new decade, I am reminding myself daily that I have the opportunity to call the shots on the unique story of my life. I am still coming to terms with this new age. I haven’t got everything figured out yet however, here are some truths that have and are making me feel a lot more relaxed about life.
Remembering to separate my feelings from facts: I am very introverted, an INFJ to be specific, and I knew if I spent the rest of my birthday thinking of all the things I have not accomplished it would be a slippery slope from there. Before I called it a night, I took a pen and paper and listed down some of the things I have been able to accomplish, both big and small. This is a helpful way to separate feelings from facts, and it helped me realize just how much I have to celebrate.
Nobody has it all figured out: I always thought that the older I got, the more clarity I would have in understanding this thing called life. In my teens and early twenties, adults always looked like they had everything figured out. But as I became that adult, I’ve slowly begun to realize that this isn’t always true. I am doing the best I can with what I know now. There is no need to place unnecessary stress on myself by believing that I should have everything set in stone by a certain time.
Realizing that growing old is a privilege: This has helped me get out of the my-life-is-over-and-I’m-running-out-of-time phase. Instead, it has empowered me to embrace the fact that this could just be the beginning of a new chapter in my story. Each day is a gift, and the more I moan about turning another year, the less likely I will be able to appreciate every minute I’ve got on this earth.
Create personal milestones: I choose to do things on my own timetable, focus on myself, and the goals that I want to accomplish. I choose to believe that my life will unfold the way it’s supposed to. We are all aware of society’s conventional markers of success and accomplishment, especially for women. It’s easy to feel a lot of pressure to get married, or have a serious partner, to think about having children, etc. but I’ve learned to take all of it with a grain of salt, and to question whether these so-called markers represent the ultimate goal of life. There is no perfect time to get married or have kids, and this is certainly not a path for everyone.
I gave myself the space to feel all the feels about turning the big 3-0™ without letting it overpower me. It’s not too late for me and nothing can stop me from doing what I want to do. Taking stock of my life has made me realize how happy I actually am. I have my own business and a career that I am passionate about, amazing friends and family around me, I am a proud cat-mom and I’m in a relationship with someone I love. My 30th birthday might not have been the “success” that I had imagined, but it is still a milestone worth celebrating.
Eve Waitherero is a freelance writer from Kenya who is passionate about storytelling. She is also a professional makeup artist who is unapologetically obsessed with all things beauty!
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