I try, and I think am fairly successful, to avoid being a cliche and really try to live my life how I wish to live it and not bow to external pressures (see how I cope with being in a long distance relationship for an example) but at the moment I am failing.
I am freaking out about turning 30.
I know it's ridiculous and I know it's silly and what's even worse is I know what's causing it - which should, in theory, mean I should be able to stop freaking out about it, but that appears to be one of those easier said than done things.
For me it is a scary age. It's my first big milestone and one where everyone else who is reaching it are at varying stages of their lives. The last big milestone birthday was 21 and, by and large, everyone who turned 21 with me was the same - still at uni, still ensconced in the student lifestyle, still convinced we were invincible and the world was ours for the taking, no responsibilities and few ties, all the time thinking that all that big Life Stuff would be sorted out by the time the next big birthday came around.
I noticed the divergences hit around the 25/26 mark. People started moving in with boyfriends. People started getting engaged. People started buying houses.
I did none of this and wasn't particularly fussed - I still had a kind of blind faith, based on absolutely nothing, that when I was 30 things would be 'sorted'.
I'm never entirely sure what 'sorted' in my head meant, but I believe it meant that at least one out of the following four things would have been achieved;
1. Own house
The years have gone on and with every wedding attended and every baby blanket made and every Welcome to your New Home card sent, a very slow but steady sense of disquiet has been growing in the pit of my stomach. Once 30 came within 6 months the panic has been relentlessly encroaching and growing and now, with 5 weeks to go, I feel like I'm at Defcon 2.
So let us see where I am according to the list above;
1. Own house - bar an unknown relative bequeathing money to me on their death or a Lottery win I have now pretty much accepted that I will never own a house. I'm pretty ok with that. However, at the moment I don't even rent a house. I don't really rent a room in a shared house. I live in my sister's box-room. This is not where I thought I would be at 30. I don't think this is where anyone aims to be at 30.
2. Fiance/husband - I have a lovely boyfriend, I'll concede this one, but at the moment I'm closer to landing on the moon than I am to getting a ring on my finger.
3. Child - I can't lie, this is the one that I find the hardest to deal with and I know it really does take me into the realm of cliche-dom. But I really did think I'd have a child by now. What really smarts is that if I were a less responsible person, I could have a baby now - but I don't believe I'm in the right situation to bring up a child how I would like to. And yes I know there's no perfect time to have a child but when you take Point 1 into consideration along with Point 4 coming up, and then throw in that The Person is in now way ready to have a child yet, I think we can all agree that this is not a good time to start spawning.
4. Career - I have been in my new job for 2 months. Instead of having been in one for 9 years, like those who left uni and started on their career path straight away. I am unbelievably grateful to just have a job and am even more so that I am enjoying it - but I didn't think I'd be at the bottom of the ladder at 30.
So there you have it. The reason I am desperate to hide my head under my pillow for the next 5 weeks and pretend it isn't happening. Also the reason I'm not choking at the bit to "celebrate". (Not helped by the fact I have discovered some "friends" are planning a trip away for their 30th birthdays to which I haven't been invited. Niiiiiiice.)
And oh my goodness I am well aware that I am being ridiculous. I am well aware I should be grateful for what I've got. I am well aware that I shouldn't be upset that my life isn't where I thought it would be when I was 21, a point in my life where I was incapable of thinking beyond the next Sambuca, much less forming a coherent life plan. I am even well aware that the 4 things on that list do not indicate how "successful" I've been at life.
However. The older we get, the harder it is to ignore the disparities between our life-path and those of the people around us which will almost inevitably lead us to question whether we're doing the "right" thing. And even if there is no such thing as "right", I believe that we, are at least some of us, are pack animals and are happiest fitting in with everyone else. I think I could accept not having achieved some of the things on that list if I had done something extraordinary with my life, but I haven't even done that - maybe that is what is most upsetting of all.
I am working on readjusting my thinking. Obviously I know 30 is still young (although my ovaries may disagree), however until I manage to do that, I reserve the right to carry on being a cliche and freak the freak out about turning 30.
(If you are tempted to leave me a comment saying I should be thankful I don't have the stress of mortgage payments or the horror of a baby who won't sleep at night, or the nightmare of planning of wedding - don't. For I would hate to have the inconvenience of going round to punch you in the face.)