Journey to 30

Near John Lennon Wall in Prague

I never actually liked the term “dirty thirty.” I felt it put a negative spin on people turning 30 when it should be a positive thing. I mean, what’s dirty about turning thirty? Waking up with a hangover maybe? Recently, I turned thirty and called it my “Journey to 30” which was much more fitting since I planned a solo trip to visit three new countries. I finally looked up the origins of “dirty thirty” and I’m now soooo happy I didn’t use it. Urban Dictionary’s definition is the following:

“The age at which single women without children realise that their biological clock is ticking. As a consequence they may lower their standards and increase their willingness to perform sexual acts as a matter of desperation in order to find a mate/sexual partner.”

So, yeah, I’m glad I didn’t use it. But it does point to a common convention across multiple societies: the pressure of being married and/or having children at a certain age. I don’t want to point fingers, but certain genders may feel this pressure more than others. Of course, there are other milestones people may feel pressured to achieve: the pressure of owning a home, the pressure having a degree, the pressure of having a well-paid job, etc. However, the reality is our own journeys may not necessarily lead us to these milestones in a cookie-cutter way, if at all. We all have our own journeys and struggles that lead us to new experiences – some good, some bad. I know I’ve come a long way. I think part of the freedom and contentedness I feel stems from the fact that I do not feel any of these pressures or competitiveness to be at a certain place in my life. I am happy with who I am and with where I am today. I am single. I am childless. I am a Ph.D. student living in the U.K. I am a 30-year-old who’s had a rich life thus far.

Lokrum Island, Dubrovnik

Even as my Facebook feed increasingly becomes flooded with wedding and baby photos, I don’t feel that itch to go out and find a partner and have a baby. I feel that so many of us sometimes give in to those pressures and limit our own journeys to paths we are comfortable with. But you know what, it’s exciting, fun, and even a little scary to set out on new journeys. I wanted to move to a new country while having the chance to help others so I joined the Peace Corps and ended up living in a village in South Africa for 2 years. What?! I applied to grad school in the U.K. while finishing my Peace Corps service and actually got accepted! What the whaaaa?!?! And yes, I even got a corporate job working in HR for 2 years before I decided to quit and yet again go back to school to get a Ph.D. And here I am now. I didn’t place limits on myself and neither should anyone else.

City Walls, Dubrovnik

I recently celebrated turning 30 by exploring new parts of the world and new cultures. I went to Prague, where I also completed my sixth marathon, then I headed to Vienna, and finally Dubrovnik. These cities were amazing, each with their own beautiful histories and cultures. I find peace in throwing myself into the unknown. I found peace dipping my toes in the Adriatic. I found peace eating an ice cream out of a chimney cake in Prague, I found peace feeling like a local as I used public transport in Vienna with ease, and I found peace meeting new people in all three of these gorgeous cities. My next few posts will be exactly about my Journey to 30, and this has been the most amazing birthday ever. Where will your journey lead you?

Schönbrunn Palace, Vienna

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