Estimated Read Time: 12 minutes
Watching my friends move on to new stages in life, I can’t help but wonder – what if I stay stuck?
It’s a question I often ask myself. It’s a fear that pops into my head when I cheer on friends from the sidelines as they move on to new life stages (move in with partners, get engaged, get married, have a baby, buy a new home, have another baby). It’s a fear that creeps in when my romantic relationships end, when I find myself randomly thinking of when would be the best age to have children.
A point of concern which has manifested itself for me in my life, especially within the last few years, has been the fear of turning 30 , more specifically, the fear of being single and turning 30.
I’ve started and stopped the creative process of writing about this fear numerous times on my site. Why? Because I feel someone who is 30 or over 30 will read this and say you’re being ridiculous despite it being a very real and very looming fear of mine. As it happens, I am currently living through that stage in life when people close to me are starting to take the next steps. I know this stage will pass eventually, but that is exactly the fear – everyone will advance during this stage and by the time I reach 30, I will have remained in the same place as when I was 25 in the realm of love and family life.
It’s gotten to the point that in my effort to finally write this post, going back and pulling what content i’d already created, I had 3 drafts saved – 3 times I started with a thought, then shelved it, out of concern that others would judge my fear, or that the fear would come off to others as something I don’t need to be concerned about, when it actually concerns me deeply. So today, I’m going to sit down, and I’m going to confront it – you’re welcome to join me for the ride.
Truthfully, part of the fear comes from having irrationally built it up in my head that 30 is this be all, end all age – a milestone by which time I should have my shit figured out. The logical part of my brain recognizes there are many people who are 30 and older, who are single, who are married, who have children, who do not, who are doing just fine. The logical part of my brain recognizes 3 to 5 years from now, I will look back at this time period when I stressed about my single self and wonder why I worried so much. The irrational, anxious part of my brain however, recognizes that as soon as I hit 30, time really starts ticking to begin breeding miniature versions of me.
Of course then the what-if’s role in – What if I don’t meet anyone? What would my life look like if I genuinely never met anybody? What if people keep telling me “you’ll meet the one” but one day I wake up and I’m 40, and I still haven’t met the one? What does the one even mean or look like these days?
What if I become the eccentric single friend who plays fairy godmother to all of her friend’s children because she doesn’t have any of her own – which actually doesn’t sound too bad – spoil the kids with gifts, play with them, then give them back at the end of the day – a grandma before my time, because that’s what a grandma does.
Why does it bother me so much? Is it because of some unconscious calling to wifely duties which I should be fulfilling by now? Is it the unconscious calling of a barren womb while friends around me seem to be pushing out offspring at a yearly rate? Okay, I giggled a bit at how dramatic that sounded when I typed it – barren womb – but YOU GET MY POINT.
While there may be certain life shifts going on which unlock my unconscious needs, wants and desires, I would say that the biggest piece in this fear comes down to comparison. Comparison is truly the destroyer of happiness. How do I know? I have partaken in it many, many times – comparing what stage my friends are at in their lives, to what stage I am at in my life. If I was happy, if I was fearless, if I didn’t care where others were at in their lives compared to where I am at, do you think I would be writing this article? Digging deeper to the root of that comparison, lies my own insecurities. If I was truly secure in who I am and where I am at in my life, I wouldn’t feel a need to compare myself to others.
It should be noted now, that I am still a few years away from turning 30 – I am only 27. I should also note that I have consistently mentioned to myself and others that I don’t want to have children before I turn 30, but that doesn’t exclude relationships, engagement and marriage.
It’s especially been within the last year, that this fear has gripped me. In the last year, I’ve witnessed 3 engagements, a wedding, a friend’s pregnancy, and another friend giving birth. I already see this cycle repeating itself this year and in the coming year as well. Of course covid is having a profound affect on all of these aspects of life, but the point is that they are continuing to happen.
If this is sounding like one big woe is me, self-pity party, I apologize. In a way, I think I manifested a lot of this fear and brought a lot of this on myself. Let me explain.
From 2015 to April 2019, I was single, aside from a 1 month stint with a guy who dumped me by text because he wanted to go snowboarding and ended up giving me infectious mono. Yes, that is the legitimate reason he broke up with me, no I am not pulling your leg – happy to share that story some other time .
During this time, I flip-flopped a lot. What I mean by this is that I would tell myself I was okay with being single, I was confident in being single. Heck I even wore it as some wacky badge of honor for a while. However, at the end of the day , I would stress out (and eventually convinced myself) that I would never meet anyone. A lack of confidence in being alone, secretly equated to the fact that I didn’t want to be alone (which I can now recognize as an invalid and unhealthy reason to want to be in a relationship. You should be relatively wholesome and content with who you are – if someone finds their way into your life it’s only because they make a wonderful addition – not because you’re half a person looking for someone else to complete you – or in my case, you don’t want to be alone).
In addition to this, I lived a bit of a hermit life. I’d get invited to go out, but wouldn’t accept the invitation. I’d use an excuse that I had to work the next day, that the people attending weren’t really people I cared to be around or hang out with, or that I preferred the comfort of my couch rather than go to a bar for a friend’s birthday.
In retrospect, it makes perfect sense – how could I have expected to meet anyone when I didn’t put myself out there, nor push myself outside of my comfort zone? During this time period, I was on dating apps like everyone else, but in addition to that, I wasn’t meeting people any other way. I wasn’t going out and living my best life and allowing life to just happen – instead I stayed home. It’s almost like I was expecting someone to just show up, knock on my door and say hi, i’m the love of your life without putting in the work or making the effort to get what I wanted out of it.
Adding to all of this, while on dating apps, I interacted with and went out with a number of guys who I either didn’t click with, created poor dating experiences for me, or were just straight up f**k boys. If you’re not familiar with what this is (aka, you’re over the age of 40) I’ve included the Urban Dictionary definition for you:
A f**kboy is a guy with the body of a man and the mind of a perverted teenager. He has no heart — just a penis that he uses to paint the town.
Paint that town, paint it.
My experience with dating men tanked so hard, that I actually swore off them. Altogether. Completely. Forever. I’d tell friends this was my plan and their eyes would bug out from their head like i’d grown a third arm. In my mind, the few bad seeds I had encountered, ruined the many for me. So why bother to keep trying? For how long could I continue to “put myself out there” (in a capacity which I thought was enough to qualify as putting myself out there) before it was time to hang up my proverbial hat and call it a day?
Another in retrospect learning lesson – I was allowing myself to interact with these sorts of low vibrational, pond scum-type men. This is not to say that all men who are on these apps are this way, nor all of the men I interacted with were like this – but upon reflecting on that time period (and up until very recently), I interacted with more shitty men than healthy men. This ultimately defined and shaped my belief that good men no longer existed, despite the fact I had been reinforcing this false belief by engaging with primarily crappy men.
It was during a session with a psychic in Fall 2019, when she told me she was actually glad I hadn’t met anybody during this time period. I too, was operating at such a low vibrational energy, that anybody I attracted, would not have been a healthy or happy match. This makes sense – if the energy and the vibrations which you put out into the universe and that you give to the world are low, what sort of energy do you think you will attract? Likeminded, Low energy! The more time I spent believing and focusing that I would not meet anyone, and the more I allowed myself to interact with and date low vibrational men (and therefore reinforcing my belief that all the good men had been taken or were non-existent), meant that I attracted more of the very things I did not want in my life. This in addition to actually living a very solitary lifestyle and not putting in the extra work involved, aside from just letting the universe do it’s thing.
So you see, the combination of engaging with and dating crappy men, my pre-existing belief that I was never going to meet anyone, my lack of effort in putting myself out there and meeting new people, as well as a lack of confidence in being alone, led me to manifest this fear. Add in the wickedness of comparison stemming from my own insecurities, and you got yourself a real winner here.
Now would be a good time to point out that my intent in all this is truly not to bash myself, but to reflect on my actions and my behaviors, to be a healthier human moving forward.
I’ve recognized even in my most recent relationship, which was probably one of the healthiest I have ever experienced, that I wanted to stay with my ex because I was afraid to be alone/didn’t want to be alone. It would mean repeating the exhausting cycle of dating, hopping onto a dating app, small talk with a stranger, let’s get drinks, we hit it off or never see each other again. I think in a way I have to be okay with the cycle, though – I have to work in tandem with the cycle, regardless of if it’s on an app or not. It’s better to be orbiting the planet, as opposed to floating untethered through space, right?
I’m learning to recognize that being 30 and single does not equate to “being stuck“, as I said above. How can one be stuck, really, when there are so many other areas of life that are continuing to grow and flourish? If I am moving in a direction and growing as a person in a way which makes me feel happy, healthy and productive, then how can I or anyone else, possibly deem myself as a person, stuck?
Not to mention, is this piece of my life so significant that it outweighs all the other aspects of my life and their importance? I’ve got big dreams besides getting married and having kids – I want to go to Africa for my 30th birthday, I want to write a book, I want to become a meditation teacher, I want to run a blog that is successful enough that I never have to work another horrid desk job ever again, I want to purchase a vacation home, I want to be well-read – aren’t those significant, too?
Maybe marriage and kids will happen, maybe not. I’ve learned that regardless of the situation, I need to be putting myself out there, in a capacity which allows me to live my life to the fullest and makes me happy. Sure, i’ll probably still interact with crappy men on dating apps, it’s inevitable, they are out there. The difference this time around, though, is consciously choosing whether or not to continue to engage with them, and taking back my power. At the end of the day, to express 30 and single as a defining factor in who I am as a person, is actually kind of an insult to my character and an insult to my other equally important goals and dreams. I have so much more going for me and am able to offer so much in the absence of a partner, a marriage, a pregnancy. (I’ve talked about this before in my article The Timeline Complex).
I’m also working to adjust my habit of comparison to more healthier outlooks – love, admiration, respect, courage. My friends are having babies – isn’t the human body amazing? My friends are getting married – when else is there a truer display of love between two people? If I get to experience those things, I will have considered myself fortunate. But I consider myself fortunate without them, too.
I need to stop letting comparison block my vision of the things I am working to achieve in the now. Is saving for a trip to Africa on my 30th birthday a tangible goal? Yes. Do I know when or if someone will waltz into my life tomorrow or the day after that, or in 6 months from now, who could be my future husband and the father of my children? No – perhaps they might. But I’m not going to sit at home waiting for this person to knock on my door any longer. I’m hustling to be the best version of me, and if they want to hop aboard the Lindsay train because they like the destination, then sure be my guest. What I can control is my attitude, my security within myself and my outlook in the years to come.
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