So technically I never stopped being ‘single’. Me and Mr SC were never officially in a relationship. But for six weeks I entertained the excited idea that I might have found someone I was genuinely interested in. Someone who excited me. And to be perfectly honest, that’s not something I experience very often.
With the excitement over, part of the come down has been coming to terms with the reality that I’m still single. Single and 30.
It’s silly really. I feel no older now than I did six months ago. In fact, I feel no older now than I did six years ago! And yet the addition of a ‘3’ to the start of my age just feels so adult. So final. The end of my twenties.
I have really long hair, and have done for the past six or seven years. On a couple of occasions over that time, I’ve considered cutting it short. And every time, I talked myself out of it, deciding long hair was a style I could really only have in my younger years. I’d have plenty of time in later life for shorter hair dos.
I genuinely remember thinking 30 was the ‘age limit’ on long hair! That after that age it would look too youthful and out of place!
And now? Well I won’t be cutting my hair for the considerable future!
With the reality of 30 upon me, I know just how non grown-up it feels. And that realistically, I can probably pull off this hair-do for at least another ten years if I want (to then realise 40 doesn’t feel grown-up either!).
We all grow up with preconceptions of certain ages.
If you asked teenage me what adult life would be like, I assumed I’d get married at 28 or, worst case scenario, would at least know who I was gonna marry by that age. But 28 came and went, and do you know what, it didn’t feel particularly adult or dramatic either!
As a girl who grew up in the Sex and The City generation, I appreciate that 40 is the new 30. That people do things far later in life than they used to. That the world is full of opportunities, and I have equal right to explore those opportunities in the same way any man my age might.
And yet there is still an alarm bell in the back of my mind sometimes. I’m 30, and I’m single. Shouldn’t I be panicking?! Why haven’t I met my future husband yet?!
Facebook doesn’t help.
Rather than simply comparing ourselves to our closest friends and family, these days we can see the way every person we know has ended up living their life. We can see their engagements, their weddings, their children.
Every significant life event, publicised online.
Those big events are naturally the things we notice first. In reality, there are A LOT of single people in my social sphere. A lot of successful, incredible women in their thirties and forties, who also happen to be single. But it’s always the glamorous photos of wedding dresses that catch your eye first. Or the never-ending stream of cute baby photos.
Yes, of course there is a biological reality to being female.
And to be honest, at times it really frustrates me that I can’t appreciate being single and 30 the same way my single male friends do – taking one date as it comes, and not caring about settling down for the forseeable future – because realistically, that’s a far healthier and more successful way to date.
But just because I would like to have children at some point, and should probably have those children before I hit forty, shouldn’t mean I’m pressing any emergency buttons just yet.
And actually, the best thing I could do right now, is to take a leaf out of my male friends’ play books!
Yes, I may be 30.
But actually, I don’t think I look 30! I’m fitter now than I’ve been in years. I’m the most comfortable in my own skin I’ve ever been, and as a result, probably the most attractive I’ve ever been.
My attitude to life hasn’t suddenly changed since my twenties (a whole five months ago!), and if anything, my list of future adventures just keeps getting longer the more I experience life.
Ok, so I might have thought I’d be married at 28. Realistically, to have been married at 28, I would have probably been in a relationship at least since I was 25.
At 25, I backpacked solo around the world for a year. I literally woke up each morning and decided where I wanted to go that day, what I wanted to do, and if I even wanted to bother getting out of bed! I had the most amazing year of my life, and because I was travelling alone, I met hundreds of people everywhere I went.
Yes, I could have done that with a partner, but I still have time for travel adventures with a guy. That year was about me. Enjoying my independence, realising what I’m capable of, and that I can stand on my own two feet. That I fill a rucksack with stuff, and survive in the Argentinean mountains alone for a week, perfectly fine. That I can spend three nights a week sleeping on overnight buses, and still wake up with a smile on my face. That I can turn up to a continent, not speaking a word of Spanish, and spend eight months picking up the language as I go along.
At 26, crippled with debt from all the fun I’d had at 25, I had to make some adult decisions. I needed to pay off my debts. I could either do that by working back in Reading, or by heading to Whistler, one of the most amazing ski resorts in the world. One guess which option I picked!
I spent two years, earning back every penny I owed, and skiing, snowboarding and scuba diving on my days off.
Again, yes, I could have done that with a boyfriend or partner. But realistically, I didn’t have time to be in a relationship. I was working 60-80 hours a week, and making the most of every second of free time I could get.
By the time I was 28, I had been travelling for 3 years. Doing things teenage me could have only dreamed of. I did sky dives, and bungee jumps. I climbed glaciers, and trekked up mountains. I hiked the Inca Trail, Kilimanjaro, Everest Base Camp.
I could have done all those things with a partner, and yes, whoever the man I eventually end up with is, I hope he enjoys all those crazy adventures as much as I do. But realistically, I’d have been hard-pushed to find a life partner candidate at 25, who had the time, the money, the energy and the inclination to do all of those things with me, and spend three years of his life on the other side of the world!
And having been to a fair few weddings recently, I know there’s no way I’d have been able to afford one at 28 after three years of travel!
Deep down, every singleton knows the reason he or she is still single.
Me? I got orphaned in my teens, and so had enough to deal with at university without worrying about boys. I then spent three years travelling. And to top it all off, I’m rather picky about the person I end up spending the rest of my life with. Not exactly rocket science!
It’s just easy to forget the logical reasons when you’re having a bad day!
The thing about life, is that the grass will always be greener.
It’s easy to look at Facebook, and see school friends with picture perfect lives. 2.4 children. Beautiful houses. Idyllic family holidays. The middle class dream.
But I’m sure some of those school friends watched on in awe while I was travelling around the world, posting photos of me falling out of aeroplanes, riding camels, and swimming with dolphins.
You can’t have it all, all at once!
If I learned one thing when I was studying at Cambridge, it’s that the worst thing you can do in life is measure your own happiness and success against other people.
I went from being a ridiculously competitive child, to a personal perfectionist. Instead of focussing on what anyone else was doing, I decided the healthiest approach was to achieve the best I could for me. I still kept my drive, and thirst for life, but it was a way of channelling it more positively. An approach to my studies which kept me sane for four years, surrounded by genii and some of the best minds in the country! People I knew I could never academically compete with!
But it’s a lesson worth remembering in normal life too.
Everyone is different. Everyone’s life path is different.
Some people meet their life partner at 16. Others don’t find him or her until their sixties, or their sixth marriage!
The worst thing you can do is compare yourself to other people, and beat yourself up for not having achieved the same things. Just because your life does not resemble someone else’s, does not make it a failure! We all stepped off the designated ‘life conveyor belt’ the moment we left school or university.
Everyone has different priorities. Everyone has different achievements. It’s what makes the world such an amazing and interesting place. Think about all the sci-fi films – the way dystopic society is often portrayed by thousands of people not having individual personalities, or distinguishable lives! Quite literally peoples’ idea of hell!
So embrace the differences. There really is no ‘norm’ these days!
Eighteen year-old me would look at 30 year-old me, and see me as a failure. Not because of the marriage thing, but because I didn’t choose to work in a top law firm! At eighteen that was my dream. Twelve years later, and I couldn’t think of a job less fitting for adult me!
Life never happens how we expect. And we don’t always become the people we expect.
Tomorrow marks the 11th anniversary of my Dad’s death. And if you’d have told eighteen year-old me that I would be orphaned a year later, I would have called you crazy.
You never know what cards life will deal you, and the reality is life continues to deal you cards.
You choose how you play them. No one else.
As Lil Miss D, the blog’s inspirational divorcee, is constantly saying, you only get one life! So make the most of it! Don’t beat yourself up because it doesn’t look like the future you naively predicted at an age when you didn’t even properly know yourself!
When me and Mr SC ‘broke up’, I felt like I’d failed. I had met this guy who I would have happily made a stab at a future with. Someone who (yes I know!) I didn’t know very well, but who appeared to embody all the things I was looking for in a guy. All the things I’m attracted to.
It had all seemed so fairytale. Meeting on New Year’s Day. Meeting because of the blog. The little girl in me had got excited. Thought he might be my ‘One’.
And yes, I appreciate just how naive that sounds from someone who writes a dating blog. And how if I were writing a book like The Rules, I would never admit that! But I’m nothing to you guys if not painfully honest.
Cards on the table? Within probably five hours of meeting Mr SC, I thought I’d met my soul mate.
And then timing and circumstances conspired against me.
And in the back of my head, all I kept thinking was – but I’m 30. I don’t have time for wrong timing! I need to settle down. If I’m to have kids by 35, I need to meet the guy now. I can’t wait. The timing can’t be wrong. I can’t wait! I don’t have time.
But do you know what – maybe he wasn’t my soul mate. Or maybe he is, but the timing is wrong and I would need to wait another five years to find out. I don’t know. Only hindsight will be able to tell me in the end.
What I do know, at this moment in time, is that the worst thing I could be doing right now, is panicking!
There is no time limit on me meeting a guy!
Yes, I’d like to be a Mum some day, and it does suck that biology doesn’t jinx guys in their thirties and forties as much as it affects us ladies. But I really shouldn’t be panicking about body clocks just yet!
The worst thing I could do would be to rush my next relationship because I’m too busy thinking about the future to enjoy the now. Or even rush into another relationship because I’m worried about the future.
There are loads of really exciting parts of a relationship before you even approach the big Facebook moments of engagement, marriage and kids! There is absolutely no need to rush.
My parents had me late, and a lot of my friends’ parents were in their late thirties or early forties when they had them. And that was even before SATC!
And as someone who was adopted by her best friend’s parents at the end of her teens, I wouldn’t have any issue adopting kids if I couldn’t have children for some reason.
So my attitude for 2014, and the forseeable future, is not to panic. Not to rush things. To take a leaf out of my single male friends’ playbooks, and make the most of being single. Because the reality of it all, is that one day I will meet someone I want to spend the rest of my life with. And he’ll want to spend the rest of his life with me. And when I’m happily coupled up, safe in the knowledge that I know who I’ll end up with, I’ll look back on my single days and reminisce.
I’m not going to be single forever. (Though sometimes it may feel that way!) So I need to make the most of NOW, and stop worrying about the FUTURE. Because it will work itself out somehow. 🙂
Miss Twenty-Nine xxx