I am on the brink of turning 29, a year closer to the dirty 30. Just when you think you’ve accomplished certain career goals in life and are looking forward to the next decade, the most dreaded question comes up, “When do you plan to settle down?”
If you belong to my generation, you know exactly what I’m speaking about. We may have become forward in the way we dress, speak or broadcast our lives on social media, but it all ends there. Ever since I turned 25, most people have been concerned about my ‘clicking biological clock’. What if I plan to freeze my eggs? You got a problem with that?
I do realise how awkward it gets when a nosy relative sets you up for an interrogation.
Here are certain situations you might have come across if you’ve been diagnosed with the almost-30 disorder, which I tackle with eye-rolling, a constipated expression, and sarcasm-loaded replies:
“If you don’t get married now, you will lose all the charm.”
A: Of course, Aunty. But I am sure if you stand here and annoy me any longer, I will certainly lose my mind.
“We’ve got a great match for you.”
A: Thanks for all the concern, but I’m not really interested in lighting up a fire. You see there’s a lot of global warming already!
Yes, I am almost 30 and single. Since most relationships these days are so cookie-cutter and snap within a few dates, I’d rather be dating myself. I am certainly not in the mood for a low-budget rom-com that features a weak script and will go off the theatres within a week of its release. Just because the world is chasing relationships does not mean you’ve got to impose timelines on yourself.
A few years ago, the idea of being ‘alone’ triggered many a panic attack. I couldn’t get myself to watch a movie or eat out by myself if a friend or a family member backed out. For some strange reason, it did matter what others thought of me. Today, the idea of marching into a hip restaurant and asking for a ‘table for one’ or giggling through a movie with a tub of popcorn in hand without a date in tow doesn’t depress me.
There exists a world beyond ‘being married’ or ‘single’. At 30, you begin living a life you’ve been waiting for. Your 20s are all about getting a hold over yourself and trying to smoothly transition from graduation to post-graduation and then struggling through your first few jobs.
When it comes to dating, you might have had a string of failed relationships in your 20s and learnt a lesson or two. At 30, getting into ‘serial dater’ mode for no reason seems pointless to me. It’s not always about seeking validation from another person. Don’t get me wrong here, I am certainly not anti-relationship. I’ve had my share of relationships, where I have loved intensely, but also realised it wasn’t the right match. Breakups do rip you apart, but they teach you some life lessons and for some, they even make you treasure singledom.
Time and again, there have been millions of words written about the wonders and pitfalls of single life, but there’s an apparent difference between being single and being lonely. When American singer and songwriter, Stevie Nicks, was asked about being on her own, she gave a great reply, “People say, ‘But you’re alone.’ But I don’t feel alone. I feel very un-alone. I feel very sparkly and excited about everything.” This is certainly something I go by.
Because it is when you are nearing 30 that you want to stop for a while and take a deep breath. You feel like you’ve finally arrived (or let’s just believe so!). You’ve moved past that age where you needlessly want to impress others. You’ve come past that age when other’s opinions matter more than they should. You’ve arrived at a point where you don’t mind discovering yourself and following what your heart says.
You can set out for that impromptu trip (there’s some money now!), you can get inked repeatedly, you can down a few glasses of wine and pass out without a care in the world. It’s all about what you want because finally, you’ve learnt to live for yourself.
As I wait at the neighbourhood café for my shot of caffeine, I know I am going to enjoy my cuppa without a bitter aftertaste of life. I am proud of being seated at this table for one. Maybe one day, it’ll be time to share this spot with someone else. Until then, I am happily single and looking forward to turning 30.