I remember watching Oprah Winfrey’s show more than a decade ago, in which a woman was constantly talking about how depressed she was at having just turned thirty. According to her, she spent the whole day crying, and canceled all her plans with her family. She kept saying, "I just want to be twenty one!". I was in my late teens then, and I was quite struck by the fact that turning thirty could be so traumatic for anyone.
Well, I will be turning thirty soon, insha’Allah. And I am not at all depressed about it! I have, on the contrary, actually come to like my grown-up status. There are things you can do when you are thirty or above, that you can not do during your teenage years or even your twenties. There are many positive aspects of hitting this age, like the ones I’ve highlighted below:
Physical and Financial Independence
Most thirty-year-olds are living independently from their parents, whether single or married. It’s wonderful to be able to do your own thing, your way. Contrast that to coming home at the age of 16 in your ill-fitting school uniform, to find your bedroom’s furniture arrangement changed without your prior consent, or something removed or added. Any protests fall on deaf ears, as, well, Ammi Jee always had her way back then. Well, now she doesn’t. So if you are a budding artist having your own studio with wacky-colored walls and creative raw material sprawled everywhere, or a passionate wannabe chef arranging your spices and ingredients in your kitchen cabinets the way you desire, or an Internet junkie like myself, having a small corner in the house with a computer and 24-hour Internet connection on which no one stops you from browsing for hours on end, being thirty does bring in its advantages, particularly in the realm of personal freedom and privacy.
The same goes for modes of entertainment, hanging out with friends, or traveling. In your teens and twenties, you always had arguments with your parents about where you could go for how long, or which friend you could hang out with at which restaurant, or whether you could take the car by yourself. "Ammi, can I go to XYZ’s house and stay there till 11:00 p.m?" or "Ammi, can I have five hundred rupees for new shoes for my friend’s wedding?" Well, at thirty, not only do you have more money in your wallet, in addition to your own bank account and personal car, but you can also spend it as you wish, without taking prior permission. You can stay out for as long as you want, since for most women like myself, their husband is more a friend than a figure of authority; so after marriage, it’s a relief to know that, instead of requiring you to seek his permission, hubby dear is more than willing to instead, eagerly accompany you on a late-night sprint to the local ice cream joint just to have cold coffee! Stretch that to flying off to another country or city for a vacation. Whether single or married, it’s fun to be able to afford such a trip, and to travel without having to seek elders’ approval for each and every step, from where to put your tickets, to what clothes to pack in which suitcase!
Freedom of Choice
Whether it’s your favorite meal at a local restaurant, or the color, texture and design of clothes you want to make for yourself, you no longer rely on Ammi to decide what suits you best. During your teens or twenties, you had those moments of indecision while making clothes, about what would look better on you or last longer. Now, having years of experience under your belt, you know what you want, where to get it from, and for how much. And it feels great to be able to make your own choices without elders always making decisions for you! Anybody who has got married would know about the endless arguments one has with one’s immediate family regarding the color of clothes, the type of jewelry, the size of the trousseau, the menu at the wedding reception, and the level of simplicity of the whole affair. At thirty, even if the bride is getting married, she’s old enough to be allowed to make her own choices. Hopefully, that is.
Marriage and Parenthood
More often than not, a thirty-year-old man or woman is married, and a parent to an infant or toddler. These two events in life are one of the most anticipated and harried-over changes and adjustments that any individual has to make. Every unmarried teenager or twenty-something dreams or wonders about who he or she will marry, how many children they will have, and where/how they will live after marriage. One agonizes over proposals and stresses about the uncertainty of one’s marital future. That wastes a lot of precious time, in my opinion, and causes mental anxiety – i.e not knowing who one will settle down with.
Well, at thirty, now that one has married their “other half”, had the zillion precursory arguments with them as a shortcut to getting to know them (both spouses see each other’s best side before the rukhsati, and the worst after it!) and faced the harsh realities of married life, one no longer wastes time dreaming what marriage will be like, and who they’ll tie the knot with. In other words, they have crash-landed to Earth! By thirty, one has settled into an amiable, comforting companionship and close friendship with their spouse, the kind that numbs any blow that life may deal to either one. Now, the uncertainty has paved way to comfort and stability.
Moreover, at thirty, one has experienced the unbelievable transition into parenthood and felt the tremendous pain, satisfaction and joy of having a baby: the nausea and vomits, the physical exertion, the sleepless nights and seemingly incessant diaper-changing; the first word, the first steps, the first day at school – all the bittersweet moments full of tears and laughter.
So, been there, done that. Now, no more idling away and dreaming; on with real life.
Settlement in one’s chosen career path
Most thirty-year-olds are settled into their chosen careers, which might not match their degrees and qualifications. I know so many people who have moved out of their chosen fields of Computer Science or Engineering, to migrate to Corporate Finance, Human Resource, or other areas. I, too, am one such individual. At thirty, you have “found” yourself; you know what you want to achieve in life, what you enjoy doing, and how you want to spend your time. And you don’t take instructions from anyone about this decision.
Mental Maturity and Decision-Making Prowess
Gone are the days of fumbling, stuttering awkwardness; of not knowing what to say to older people at boring dinner parties; of escaping from heated drawing-room discussions on politics to seek relief in aimless, childish chatting on mirc and ICQ. Now that we’re thirty, we have matured enough to be able to not just have a sound grasp on global issues but to also have credible opinions on them.
Forbearance and Resilience
Having seen a decade or so of crashing dreams, lost goals, disappointments, rejections by organizations, betrayals by old friends, and let-downs by relatives and in-laws, people aged thirty possess some scraps of age-related wisdom and considerable know-how of the big, bad world out there – the one filled with all kinds of people. Gone is the immature idealism and the naïveté of a hormone-charged teenager. By thirty, you have shed your “crowd” of superficial hang-on’s – the so-called ‘friends’ who called you or spoke to just to be part of a crowd that hangs out at hot spots to “chill” – and the insincere friends, the ones who attended your wedding just to have fun at the dholki’s and mehndi’s, and were nowhere in sight at the walima reception! At thirty one is thankfully left with only those sincere buddies who love and appreciate you not because they want to have a good time in your company, but because of who you are to them. It’s so comforting to know that the friends one has at one’s side at the age of thirty are, by and large, sincere well-wishers.
So, depressed about no longer being among the “young and restless”? Stop brooding, and get up to enjoy the older-age benefits and perks! You are now old enough to set rules in your home (no soft drinks!) but young enough to break them after the kids go to sleep (“Ah, chilled Pepsi on the rocks!”). You are old enough to discipline your children or subordinate employees, but young enough to run through the waves in the ocean or on the wet grass in the rain. You are old enough to afford the best designer wear, but young enough to actually look good in it! You are old enough to take your kids out for ice cream alone in the evening, but young enough to go ahead and enjoy a Popsicle with them. And, for the women: at thirty, you are old and endowed enough to wear sari’s at weddings, but young enough to still look hot in a kurti and capri’s!