When I had my job interview at my current school, one of the big selling points was that 30% of the teaching staff was under 30. For me, that symbolised fresh ideas, innovation and a youthful, fun working atmosphere. A couple of years down the track I’m about to leave the 20s club, and I feel fine – and ready for more innovation and inspiration.
If you had asked me what I wanted to achieve by the time I reached this mythical milestone when I was the age of my Year 12 students, it would have been simple: a journalism career, a husband and maybe a kid or two. I’m not alone – even in these modern times, most of my friends had the same ambitions. After all, our mothers had invariably wed and had us by the time they reached 30.
I don’t have any of the things my 18 year old self wished for.
I’m not editor of the Rolling Stone like I wrote in my high school yearbook, but I am passionate about teaching. I think one of the reasons people fret about getting older is that they feel they have precious little time left to reach their heart’s desire. They had a vision of themselves that hasn’t quite eventuated, so turning 30 is frightening, even if they are happy. But, we are living longer and people change careers all the time. At 30, Sylvester Stallone was a deli counter attendant, Andrea Boccelli was a lawyer and Martha Stewart was a stockbroker. I get to live the best of both worlds – teaching as a profession, writing as a hobby.
I’m not married, but I’m no longer single – I was on my 29th birthday. I must admit, as I was sipping champagne high tea with my family and some great friends, I wondered whether I would soon resemble Renee Zellwegger in the opening scene of Bridget Jones’ Diary – swigging a glass of wine while singing ‘All By Myself’ in my flannelette pyjamas. Now that I’m in a happy relationship, I must admit that turning 30 is a less daunting predicament. I hate that I feel that way – it’s not what the young feminist at university would have said. It’s also hypocritical – I have often said to friends that their marital status was less important than their happiness. I truly believe that but, like Bridget Jones, I’m pleased to have my very own version of Mr. Darcy by my side.
As for the babies, I can’t imagine being responsible for a mini me. I’m by no means financially secure – I’m renting with a housemate and I have a car loan. Most of the money I’ve earned has been spent on music and ‘finding myself’ on overseas trips. But just like Edith Piaf, who released her signature track at age 45 (I still have years to belt out my equivalent!), I regret nothing. I think I’m typical of my generation – cultural capital counts for something. I wouldn’t swap any of the experiences I had in my 20s for a mortgage and nappies. Having said that, I’m pretty pleased that the days of staying in youth hostels in the dodgy parts of European cities are probably behind me!
Alas, the biological clock is ticking, there is no denying that. If I don’t become a mother, these child-bearing hips of mine are nothing but a hindrance to fitting into designer jeans. And I have genetic form – my mother and grandmother both started going through menopause in their mid-30s. But medical technology has come so far that it doesn’t worry me. Apparently Jennifer Aniston has had her eggs frozen, and if it’s good enough for someone that’s shagged Brad Pitt, it’s good enough for me!
I’m excited about my fourth decade. I’m healthy, happy and extremely fortunate with the cards I’ve been dealt in life. My future sister-in-law says that for her, it was the time she felt she started to come into her own. A former colleague says she no longer cares about what others think since she entered her 30s. After the uncertainty of the 20s – Will I find love? What will my career be? Who am I? – I’m looking forward to feeling that serenity!
Every thirty years or so, Saturn returns to the position it was in on your birth. Its recurrence is supposed to signify a period of great tumult, so the letting go of youth is written in the stars, really. Apparently I’ve already reached that threshold – I’m about to see out my last day in my 20s not by having a bender, but with a sensible meal and an early night. It’s not really indicative of how I’ve spent the previous decade, but it seems appropriate at this time of reflection. But don’t despair – I’ll move from thinking to drinking on the weekend instead. I don’t think I’ll ever grow out of a sociable bevvy with my girls, nor do I want to!
Just don’t ask me to think about turning 40 in ten years – eep!
By Carla Ziino