A tiny grey-hair peers out at me from the top of my head. A two-minute internal meltdown follows.
“I’m only 26, how do I have a grey-hair already?” I ask myself.
My slightly melodramatic panic quickly eases, thanks to that good ol’ thing called perspective. The irony is also not lost on me when, later that day, I’m asked to show my id while picking up some wine at the local bottle shop. The world is right again.
Fast-forward a few years, and I am now in my thirtieth year of life. I’ve been thinking a lot lately as to what this means and how I feel about it. I’ve heard constantly about how this age, this number, is a big deal. On the flipside, I’ve heard how it is justanother number.
I’ve noticed turning 30, and in the few years leading up to it, can come with particular questions and comments that are quite personal and intrusive.
“When are you going to settle down and get married?”
“You know, that biological clock is ticking.”
I feel pretty lucky that I’m able to brush that stuff off, but I know that’s not the case for many others.
Turning 30 or other milestone ages seems to force us to analyse our lives; to look at our achievements, or lack thereof; to re-evaluate our goals and hopes and that dreaded ‘face our fears’. Age tends to evoke a type of anxiety that is unique. I wonder if it’s because after age is gone, all we are left with is death?
I’m not too sure I fully buy into this ‘milestone’ thing anyway. Shouldn’t we be marking all birthdays with the same embrace and celebration? Given how hard life is and topsy-turvy it can be, should each day be a milestone?
I guess it’s nice to have something to look forward to though. But then we tend to float right back to this whole age anxiety thing, and some people would rather sleep their birthday away than celebrate it. It confuses me.
My truth, though, is I love my birthday. I have always tried to celebrate and embrace it. Past hangovers will attest to this. My other truth is I try harder — much harder — to celebrate and embrace most other days of the year. I don’t always succeed. Gosh, some days I really suck at it, but I try.
I think about some of the things I’ve already done in my thirtieth year and I am proud. But I don’t think that pride really has anything to do with the age I’m turning. I don’t believe my achievements mean any more or less because of the impending number 30. I am proud because I am trying, I am learning, I am living and I am here.
When I was about to turn 21, I went to a funeral of a friend name Loren. I played netball with Loren when we were kids and thankfully, we reconnected not long before she passed. She had cancer and she was only 21. It has never left me, that feeling of seeing the casket holding someone, lifeless, my age. It wasn’t fair, but it was real. I don’t think of her all that often as we were not overly close, but the legacy of her passing I believe has seeped into a lot of what I do and how I do it. I am living. I am here.
So… I actually do want to keep unexpectedly finding grey hairs on my head. I mean, fuck, not all that once, but I’m okay for them to show up when they’re ready. And I really don’t have a hard time dealing with those personal and intrusive comments and questions. My sarcasm really knows how to handle them anyway.
I want to keep making new goals, failing at things, learning new tricks and facing my fears. I don’t know any other way, just as long as I’m here.
I read something a few years ago that really stuck with me. ‘Getting old is a privilege. Some people don’t get that chance’.