It is a classic betrayal of oneself when one doesn’t understand the world as one is supposed to. This is made worse when you realise this probably at what is the middle of your life- give or take a few years. At once paralysing but also liberating- you can either ignore or take advantage of this realization. When I had stood unsure and intimated, at the threshold of this discovery sometime in my early thirties, I marvelled at limitless alternatives that I could pursue. But would I have the spine to do that?
The narrative as had been told to me didn’t fit into what I was living out. Told by one and many that if you were a decent person and listened to the voice that we call consciousness, things will turn out just fine. That by doing good, good will return. That things always balanced out. They don’t- for the takers there is no bottom.
While no one expected life to be fair because well, life has to be a bitch, but as Calvin asked his mother once- “Why couldn’t it be unfair in MY favour?”
My impression of myself was hazy, blurred around the edges. I never knew who I was. Mostly acquiescing to the loudest voice in the room, I was stumbling through my days with the beliefs of others. You can’t win at life anyway but you start defeated when you fight it with weapons that belong to someone else. ‘Going with the flow’ is how I sold it to myself. Like most charlatans, I could pretend and very well at that. It’s ridiculous how we confuse vociferousness with confidence
Touching my rock bottom was the principal motivation. Having been out of work for some time was another. Having done things for others that didn’t agree with my values was third. I was in the pits that I had dug up for myself.
Thirties are no yardstick- but most women I know, those who have lived their lives trapped between the parenthesis of the roles they embodied, have found themselves in this decade. It sounds so ponderous- finding oneself. I try hard to substitute another appropriate phrase but there is nothing. So yes, here we are unapologetically having ‘found ourselves’.
The day you don’t seek validation from the world, you become free yes, but more. You become brave. You become real- true to yourself in ways that make you fierce, powerful. The profile sharpens, no more a silhouette. You take control of your life. The teens and the twenties are the price we pay for the thirties and thereafter. I had left behind my inhibitions and insecurities. Maybe I hadn’t so much left them behind as accepted them. Instead of shunning the bits I didn’t like about myself, I invited them to the table and offered them dessert. So what if I wasn’t thinner than what I wanted to be, so what if I had buck teeth, so what if I didn’t have flawless skin, so what if I was this, that, and everything else in between. So What.
There will be better years, I am sure. But these half a decade in my thirties has been a gift. Age is not just a number. It is years. Time you do to earn who you are. Age is effort, struggle and reward. Not everyone gets to grow old. Age is a gift.
Thirties are phenomenal. You have arrived at the party bringing along your own style. You voice your opinions- unafraid because you aren’t parroting what you heard elsewhere- you can stand your ground, you have walked it. Thirties are perfect, they make you sure- of yourself and sometimes of your place in this world.
You have emerged from the chrysalis of self-conscious adolescence. You have done your time, you have paid your debts and now you are free. This here is your victory whether you know it or not. Whether anyone else knows it or not. This here is your power. You. Know. Yourself.