I was scrolling through Instagram the other night when I happened upon a friends page who I hadn't seen in awhile. As I scrolled through endless adorable pictures of her new baby boy and happy family photos, I noticed on her bio it read, "married, home owner, and mother all before 30." I paused and thought to myself, "is this a humble brag or straight shade to everyone else that doesn't have it all together by 30?" Chances are the answer to my question is both, but let me back track a bit. On March 21st, 2018 I turned 30. Do I own a home? No, in fact I don't even pay rent. I've lived in residence halls for pretty much my entire adult life. Am I married? That question is almost laughable! Being single is like a 2nd job for me. I've mastered the balance of really putting myself out there(i.e having a folder on my phone dedicated to all the dating apps)and embracing single life (i.e binge watching netflix alone on my couch). Do I have a kid? See previous point made about being single. Although I can't put mother, homeowner, and wife in my bio does that somehow mean I'm an underachiever? Am I failing or falling behind at life?
The answer is obviously no but society, our families,and social media have monopolized what success looks like. Thirty has become a dirty word when you haven't checked off certain markers of being a successful adult. But let's be real, obtaining the holy grail of adulthood doesn't equal success or happiness. Our parents were part of a generation that got married and had kids before 30. Yes that's the expectation, but the reality is most of our parents probably settled and married too young. Celebrities aren't the only ones contributing to the 50% American divorce rate; chances are, your parents are in that pool too. As for babies and buying houses; let's be honest, millennials aren't adulating the way our parents want us to adult because we're broke phi broke. Most millennials with advanced degrees have to find 2nd jobs just to pay rent. The cost of living has sky rocketed, salaries are stagnant,and student loans are crippling us. So to my friend who had the humble brag in her instabio, I really want to know how she does it because the rest of us are out here are struggling.
But for arguments sake, lets say I was able to get the husband, house, and kids; after that's all said and done, what happens after? So you win the trifecta and that's it, your story's over? I find that many of my peers are realizing obtaining those archaic notions of success won't define them and won't determine their happiness. With or without a family, we are defining what a full and happy life looks like for ourselves. When I turned 29, I felt ashamed that I hadn't somehow accomplished more in my life. Somehow obtaining my bachelors and masters, traveling, living in New York City, overcoming overwhelming odds, being an awesome daughter/sister/friend, and impacting the students that I work with wasn't enough. I had to stop and give myself more credit, that's quite the accomplishment for someone with no husband and kids! And even now at thirty,for the first time I'm living my most happy and full life. I'm challenging myself by signing up for a half marathon (dear God help me!). I've traveled and have plans to continue traveling, I'm making new friends, fully embracing living in NYC as hard as thats been, and I'm finally putting myself first.
A year prior to my 30th birthday I booked a flight to Cape Town. I knew I wanted to ring the big 3 0 in a big way and traveling is something that I absolutely love to do. My cousin joined me for the trip and she stayed at my apartment the night before our departure. Her mother, my godmother, called to check in to wish us a safe trip. When my cousin passed the phone to me I asked my godmother, "So do you have an tips for me for when I turn 30." My godmother responded,"30 is just the beginning."