What It's REALLY Like To Be Single in Your 30's
My birthday is Friday. I will be 38. And as I will be closer to 40 than to 30, it has gotten me thinking about what I thought my life would be like at this age versus what it actually is. Back in my early 20's I always assumed I would be married with at least one kid by the time I was 30. And for a time I was disappointed and a bit disillusioned by the fact that that didn't happen. 30 was a rough year for me for a lot of reasons. My cat of fifteen years passed away 6 days before my 30th birthday, I was in the grips of a very bad bout of depression and I was taking stock of my life and feeling that I had somehow failed. It was a very isolating time for me.
But it also feels like a lifetime ago. How I look at my life has changed quite a bit. And a huge part of that has been letting go of expectations and allowing life to be what it is. Now I look back and think about how utterly unprepared I was emotionally not only for kids but for a relationship. In a lot of ways I still feel unprepared. Only now it's because I have become so completely comfortable with my life as it is. I have realized that a lot of what I was feeling at the time was based on what I thought I should be doing at 30. "You should want to get married. You should be wanting - and having - kids by now."
It wasn't until I let go of the "shoulds" that I was able to really take stock of my life as it is and be okay with it.
My OB/Gyn had "the talk" with me last year. If you are a woman over 30 then you know exactly what talk I am referring to. It's the "your eggs are getting old, so what do you want to do about it" talk. I knew it was coming. Every woman I know over the age of 32 has had this talk and I knew my time was coming. It didn't make me feel any less crappy about it. Because I had already had "the talk" with myself. As you get older you start that internal dialogue of, "If I get married next year I would be this age and by the time I have a baby I would be this age. It's exhausting to think about.
So I took a deep breath and I told my Dr - who I love and who herself had two children in her mid to late 30's - what I had told myself. That I was going to let whatever is going to happen happen. Maybe I would have kids. Maybe I wouldn't. I honestly didn't know but didn't want to base my entire life's happiness on something that may never happen. That I wanted to embrace where I was and be okay with it and not spend my life looking over the fence instead of tending my own garden. And no, I can't afford the $12,000 it would take to freeze me eggs, but thanks for asking. She then regaled me with a story about her sister who froze her eggs at 35 and then met her husband a year later and had a baby and never used the frozen eggs. I think this story was told to make me feel better. And it did.
My mid-30's have been a bit of a Renaissance for me. Or better yet - a coming of age. I feel more like my authentic self than I did even at 30 or even 35. I look better than I did at 30. I care less about what people think about me. I feel more willing to take chances in areas of my life where I didn't before. I am starting to truly understand what makes me feel good, what I like about myself and what I like about my life. And the truth is: I like being alone. I enjoy being single. I enjoy having my own space. I enjoy not having to share my bed or the remote or anything else for that matter. I've also realized how lucky I am at 37 - soon to be 38 - to live a relatively carefree life. I'm not responsible for any tiny little humans (though I am responsible for two fur babies). I can spend my money on whatever I like. My life and my time are my own. I don't say this to brag or to throw shade at married women or mothers. Those are both things that I haven't completely closed the door on having at some point in my life. But what I've learned in the past few years is that contentment (which I think is a far more sustainable thing than happiness) has to be about loving what you have now. And I have a lot.