The golden age
DEIRDRE FIDGE IS QUITE OK WITH SAYING GOODBYE TO HER 20s, ACTUALLY.
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?