Life is not a race

Last night when I was out with a couple of female friends, one in her early twenties and the other in her early thirties. My thirty-something friend revealed that she’d been increasingly feeling that she hadn’t achieved anything: no driver’s license, no mortgage, no husband and no kids. She’d been feeling some pressure from her parents to settle down and felt that her colleagues were rather dismissive of the freedoms she chased. It infuriated me that she’d had to face such pressure. This friend is someone I’ve know for around 14 years, she’s a brilliant person… a brilliant friend, offers an intelligence that radiates streetwise charm, with an exceptional talent to detect and produce fun, to be random, to define style, and in short, simply be awesome company. How dare these stupid small-minded people make my awesome friend doubt herself.

Another friend of mine, this time 29, is drawing up a list of things to do before she turns 30; which in itself is a great thing. But I hear my twenty-something friends, again and again, talk about their thirtieth birthday like it’s the door on the edge of a cliff.

So what happens when you turn 30?

Well actually, for me, it’s pretty much like life in my twenties. I still rent, but at least no negative equity; I go out a lot, but probably upweight in the direction of dinners, films, festivals and weekends away, instead of clubbing and student nights out. Admittedly I have already noted and documented that I’ve lost a whole wave of female friends due to baby-making, so in many ways I’m pushed into a younger social circle, because most people do settle, if they have that choice.

Just before my 30th birthday, I got the a tattoo “Taking the long way round.” It was an important reminder that it’s going to take me longer to settle, to feel settled, to get that mortgage and find a place that I want to call home. I have my Canadian visa and I will go to Canada next year. Who knows whether it will work out, but I’m going with the hope that I can settle, I will settle and knowing in complete confidence that Scotland will still be here if Canada isn’t the opportunity I hope it will be. I choose now, this point in my early thirties, to explore something different, to explore a new culture, but something sufficiently accessible that I can be more than a tourist, a voyeur, a visitor.

And I hear you telling me to hurry up. To reproduce. To settle. To save more for a pension. I’m irresponsible and selfish. But I think it’s irresponsible to settle for someone for the sake of it, out of fear of being alone. I think it’s irresponsible to have kids outside of a warm and loving relationship. What’s the point of saving for a thirty-year retirement if it’s at the expense of a thirty-year youth? That isn’t careless hedonism, it’s actually an assertion to say back off…. life isn’t a race and my adventures aren’t over, not by a long shot, not for a very, very long time.

This post is for those truly, truly fantastic (male and female) friends who are still working out what they want from life, who are still exploring, still designing, still looking, still asking questions. This post is for their courage, curiosity and creativity.

Don’t let anyone else get you down.

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