30 was the age I once called and thought of as old. And just a week ago, I became a thirty-year-old. There was no feeling of celebration when I woke up on the 26th of March, it was all dread and trepidation about the era that was ending and the one that is unfolding. Getting up from the bed was a struggle and, honestly, I almost spent the entire day under the covers if it weren’t for a socially distanced meet up with friends in the afternoon. I’m secretly glad now that we are in lockdown and we can’t have any parties, I would have been a crappy host.
If you have seen the Friends episode where they all turn 30, I see myself in Rachel. Terrified, insecure, and needs gifts that are on the list! Everyone keeps telling me that it’s just a number and that the best days are yet to come. My head wants to desperately believe that but it was (still is) a struggle to accept the fact.
My partner gave me a very thoughtful gift, one that required collective effort from my friends and family, a scrapbook with post-30 bucket list suggestions. As much as I am touched with the gesture, reading the list at first felt uncomfortable. It was a stark and tangible reminder that the things I wanted to do and cross off by this time remains unaccomplished. This realisation was like a light bulb moment of – fuck, this is why I’m scared of not only turning 30 but also of growing old. This age became an unconscious deadline to achieve a life of unbridled joy and success, whatever that means. For me, the pressure lies in seeing my friends pop out babies, get married, buy houses, and get higher up in their careers. I don’t even want to have kids! The point is, it is important to reflect on our own journeys beyond these societal pressures.
This also does not mean that I’m not in a good place right now. I am. With the pandemic and being stuck in the same place all year long, it is very easy to lose perspective and be self-pitying. The situation truly sucks the life out of living. Once the dark clouds lifted off my person, admittedly after naps and crying buckets, I’ve come to appreciate the scrapbook as a bittersweet memoir of my youth (the pictures were funny!!). Flipping through it and reading the birthday notes got me into an intense nostalgic headspace. My entire 20s creeped into the front and center of my mind. A decade ago, on the day of my birthday, I graduated college. Unbelievable! The opportunities that came my way and the decisions I made, which felt small and insignificant then, steered the flow of my entire life. Can you imagine… Dee Paje: Diplomat / Flight attendant / Corporate slave?! I really can’t.
Oh, fun times! My 20s was an era of being lost, experimenting, getting ridiculously drunk, being broke, falling in love, getting heartbroken, finding my voice, and discovering the world. I am closing this chapter with much fondness and gratitude.
One of the most common bucket list suggestion was “skydiving”. Yeah, I would most likely not be doing that, but I am looking forward to jump and fly into the next years with optimism, enthusiasm and vigour.