The golden age

DEIRDRE FIDGE IS QUITE OK WITH SAY­ING GOOD­BYE TO HER 20s, AC­TU­ALLY.

Frankie - - RANT -

Thanks to ter­ri­fy­ing in­ter­net al­go­rithms, I can’t browse any web­site with­out be­ing in­un­dated with head­lines like, “Seven things you must do be­fore you turn 30!”; “10 meals you should have mas­tered in your 20s!”; and “6000 life skills you should have learnt by now you big dumb-dumb be­cause your time is al­most up !!!! ” Well, I’m about to turn 30, and I’ve never back­packed solo around Europe or cooked the ‘per­fect’ roast chicken, and I reckon that’s OK. (If I’m hon­est, I’ve never even cooked the ‘medi­ocre’ roast chicken.)

While I hap­pily google “jumbo ice-cream cakes in the shape of John Sta­mos’s head”, peo­ple as­sume I spend my days con­sumed with dread about my up­com­ing 3-0. Old friends rem­i­nisce about cel­e­brat­ing our 18th birth­days, sadly lament­ing that the party is now over. Col­leagues rush to pla­cate wrin­kle-re­lated con­cerns that I’ve never ac­tu­ally ex­pressed, and older folks chuckle, “Don’t stress! You’re still a baby!” Sure, ev­ery birth­day is one year closer to join­ing Nor­man Green­baum’s “Spirit in the Sky”, but the truth is, I couldn’t be hap­pier to leave my 20s be­hind.

Like many peo­ple, my early adult­hood was spent stress­ing about fairly ir­rel­e­vant things, such as: does that per­son hate me? Did I make a fool of my­self? And, can I pull off cor­duroy pants? Com­bine that with bouts of sig­nif­i­cant men­tal health is­sues and BAM – you have the per­fect storm of fear and self-doubt. Some­times you’re forced to ac­cept that life isn’t what you thought it would be, and my 20s haven’t been very fun. But that’s all right! I’ve learnt from all those speed­bumps, and like my mum’s dog try­ing to get into a sealed rub­bish bin, I’ve chal­lenged my­self and tri­umphed. (For the record, the an­swers to my ear­lier ques­tions are: dunno, who cares, and go for it.)

Those in­ter­net check­lists are per­va­sive and baf­fling – does some­thing hap­pen when you turn 30 that means you can no longer travel over­seas or learn how to salsa dance? Maybe the clock will strike mid­night on my birth­day and both my legs will ex­plode, or my cere­brum will turn to dust. But that seems im­prob­a­ble (my older friends still seem to have fairly sturdy gams – I’ve checked). What’s more likely is that weird so­ci­etal pres­sure is telling us we need to have achieved cer­tain things by a cer­tain age, re­sult­ing in feel­ings of re­gret or shame that don’t need to be there.

Get­ting to know your­self is a vi­tal part of grow­ing up, and you know what? I couldn’t give two hoots about roast­ing a chook. When it comes to trav­el­ling, a lot of ex­pe­ri­ences would have been wasted if I’d tried to do them at 20, while rid­dled with in­se­cu­rity – I know I’ll ap­pre­ci­ate them a lot more now, feel­ing com­fort­able in my own skin. It’s bet­ter to be the only grey-haired back­packer lov­ing ev­ery mo­ment than an awk­ward young adult do­ing it be­cause they think they should. Forty is the new 20, and 90 is the new 40, and 420 is the new 69, so let’s just agree that num­bers are mean­ing­less and en­joy our­selves.

Don’t get me wrong – I still have dif­fi­cult days and in­se­cu­ri­ties and mo­ments when I won­der, “What am I do­ing?” But I feel bet­ter equipped to han­dle these now, and lit­tle things don’t faze me quite as much. I give less of a stuff about what other peo­ple think, and it feels pretty darn good. At the risk of sound­ing like an over­priced mo­ti­va­tional mug, you live and learn, and I’m con­tin­u­ing to do both. So, I’m ex­cited to smooch the past decade farewell, and

I wish ev­ery­one else could see that, too. Now who’s go­ing to make me that ice-cream cake?

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