Turning 30 is an important milestone for any woman especially because a lot has changed now when we talk about what turning 30 means. There are those in the pool who are dreading the big 3-0 because we have deeply ingrained cultural norms surrounding ages. As a society, we have endowed 30 with certain meanings and achievements. Yes, this can be suffocating and feels like a lot of pressure to achieve. Rather than celebration, 30 is greeted with a lot of sighs. On the other hand, there are those who defy the stereotypes of turning 30 and instead embrace the big milestone. So why not take a chance?
Four women tell us why you need to take that trip you’ve always wanted, why you need to get out of your comfort zone, why you need to do things that make you happy and importantly why you need to embrace turning 30.
Mapaseka Sekgala, 35
In my 20’s I was trying to see where I fit but in my 30’s it is more about me settling into where I belong. In your 30’s it is okay also not to have it all together, that car, the house or the qualification. You should be okay with what you have and stop being hard on yourself. Being 30 is scary because you think about what you have contributed as someone who has been alive for 3 decades and what you can do to better other people’s lives and yours. One thing you should remember though is self-acceptance is important because you are the only one who can give yourself validation. Being thirty also comes with its perks like your metabolism slowing down or being the oldest one amongst your siblings etc. Being 30 is fantastic because you become one and start accepting yourself as a woman and are okay with the choices you have taken for yourself. 30 is the new 21 because it is all about self-discovery and seeing that you are not your mistakes. Life honestly begins at 30 because at this stage of your life you feel you do not owe anyone anything but an apology to yourself. Solidarity is important because you’re putting your puzzles together and you kind of have a clue of what it is you want and do not want. Embracing your 30’s means accepting yourself.
Nafisa Hassanali, 33
Having lived half of my life abroad it was difficult coming back to Tanzania while half way in my twenties and settling down in a traditional environment. At 30 I had a hard time realising one-third of my life was gone and I was stuck into a mould defined by society. A feeling of running out of time and not being accomplished invaded me. But women should never be made to feel this way. Being a woman, having children is not an excuse to not be yourself and have the life you want. It’s part of you but not your only identity. I finally started to love my age. I said no to the “shoulds” society dictates and accepted the multicultural me. At 31, I got a job, made new friends, embraced a new environment, lived my moments and stopped being just a mother, wife. I decided to learn new things just for the joy of it and it has been a life changing experience. Women feel overwhelmed when they struggle to find balance in life at this age. I’ve been there but it’s okay to feel the uncertainty. Stop striving to project a perfect image instead accept an imperfectly perfect self. Failure and successes are part of life and it is like having a greater grasp of who you are. Know that the path to a good life isn’t denial but owning every moment and embracing your needs at any age.
Leyla Ayamba, turning 30
Wow I just saw my first grey hair, what a bummer! Time really does fly, one minute I was 22 then boom the third-floor creeps in on me. I have always had a plan with regards to what milestones I want to achieve. Thankfully by the grace of God all cards did fall into place eventually. I have a great job, not my dream job but we are getting there. I got my master’s degree when I was 26, I shall also be graduating this year with a post-graduate diploma in Project Management. I have a supportive partner. We put so much pressure on ourselves on different choices we could have made, opportunities we should have seized. Two of my biggest fears are not being able to provide for my parents and not living to my highest potential that is not achieving the goals I had set for myself. I must point out that there is a lot of pressure from the society on what a thirty-year-old woman should be doing. Get married, start a family, change your attire etc. But frankly speaking I have my own timeline. Since I am not starting a family anytime soon, I am planning to pursue a PHD next year, but I am still figuring out what to study. One thing that I am taking with me to my third decade is practising self-compassion.
Maria Daudji, 35
Have you ever watched the episode of a television series ‘Friends’ where Joey laments about turning 30? That would be a pretty accurate representation of me, years before I even hit that mark. I couldn’t decide whether I loathed the number due to general consensus or I was resenting time creeping up in a way that I felt I still hadn’t lived. Midway to 31, I became acutely aware of life changing around me. In hindsight, it probably wasn’t life but learning to accept my flaws, unabashedly celebrating my better qualities, being open to opportunities and basically learning to unlearn preconceived notions of growing older. I found myself bonding better with people, I found myself perfectly comfortable in peeling away assorted toxicity, I found myself willing to be curious and learn more. Importantly, I found myself. Post 30 and into 35, my personal milestones include confidently grabbing the mic at a spoken word event, travelling solo to New York and Iraq, creating my Instagram poetry page @marshmallows_and_butterflies, taking part in crucial discussions at a UN Youth event, using my self-taught tech knowledge to facilitate my company’s cost savings, finally selling my paintings, all whilst maintaining a senior finance position at a private hospital.