Looking forward to 30 and beyond
By Patricia Staino
When did I start measuring my age against cable television? I started worrying about getting older when I found videos for my favorite bands on VH1 instead of MTV. It got worse when I realized I was too old to be a cast member on MTV's The Real World. But recently, I suffered the final insult-a singer featured on Behind the Music is five years younger than I am! When did all this happen?
Two things are clear: first, I watch too much TV. Second, I am turning 30.
I should be freaking out. I should be worrying about wrinkles and taking vitamins for memory loss and ridiculing the Britney Aguilera/ 98 Back Sync Boys crowd (well, okay, I AM doing that!) and perpetually celebrating my 29th birthday. But to my own surprise, I'm not.
Instead, I find myself being glad that my 20s are finally behind me, and I'm looking forward to what the next decade has in store. I am either totally at peace or in complete denial.
At 30, I have finally come to terms with my body. For the last 20 years, I've tried every diet and pill and regimen to lose weight. I never gave up the hope that life would start when I was thin. I put off buying "investment" clothes because I just knew I was going to lose weight and wouldn't be able to wear those larger sizes. I knew that once I lost weight I would find a husband and have kids. I knew that once I lost weight, everything would be different. In fact, rumor has it that weight loss is the key to world peace. But I've decided I'm not going to be the one to test that theory.
At 30, I've realized that my size is part of who I am; I've stopped thinking ahead to "when I am thin." I am learning to be comfortable with myself the way I am, and to live my life as I am. I don't make excuses for my size anymore, and I don't let myself get embarrassed if someone says something about it. I finally feel like I am getting to know myself, and I wouldn't trade that for another 21st birthday.
At 30, people stop asking why you aren't married yet. I'm not sure if they're afraid of what your answer will be, if they've started to believe you've "made an alternative lifestyle choice," or if they're just afraid they'll reduce you to tears. I don't care what their reasons are. All I know is that they've left me alone, and I couldn't be happier. Being perceived as an old maid is a small price to pay for peace and quiet. I would like to get married and start a family in the next decade, but I'm not putting everything else on hold waiting for that to happen. I'll work a family into the life I build, not build a life around my family.
At 30, some people think you get the leftovers in mates. Not so. Personally, I believe I've got the best of the bunch from which to choose. All the boys that had "issues" to work out in their 20s have worked them out at someone else's expense, leaving relationships free of the drama and baggage. Plus, all the ambitious guys who were too busy making a success of themselves after college are now on top of their careers and ready for some fun. These men can also afford bigger engagement rings, which you can proudly show off to acquaintances who, married at 23, have the "starter" rings to show for it. These rings were the source of much envy at 25; at 30 they are merely small and inconsequential.
At 30, the biological clock actually ticks a little slower. Around 26, you look admiringly into baby carriages and smile to yourself with longing. Good news! On your 30th birthday, albeit temporarily, this condition reverses itself. I'm not sure if it's watching the lives of all my friends who have children unfold, or the desire for a second round of freedom and fun that comes with a more stable financial situation, but I'd rather sit at a cafÈ in Europe with a good book than trudge around Disney World with two toddlers.
At 30, women finally hit their sexual peak. We're better at it, our partners are better at it, and everyone is a lot less inhibited. That's what I've heard. Check back with me in a few years and I'll let you know. But thinking back to a cramped twin bed in a shared college dormitory room, I don't think any woman spends much time longing for 22 again.
At 30, I realize that it is not too late to do the things I've wanted to do, and more importantly, I don't feel the need to put any age limits on those plans. I am finally on my own, completely in control and in a comfortable place in my life.
At 30, I am definitely too old for MTV. And that's music to my ears....