The other night, I was chatting to a friend of mine, and in the course of the conversation I realised with a shock that in less than a month I was going to be 32. My stomach dropped to my feet (which wasn’t very far cos I’m a shorty) as I said the number out loud again. 32. I think I paused dramatically and simply said “Fuck.” Then that person turned to me and asked: “But are you really going to be 32??” And my instant reply was “No way.”
It became clear to me that it wasn’t the number of years I’d spent on the planet that freaked me out – it was what the world I’d been living in expected me to have achieved with my life thus far that brought me down. So then I stopped and asked myself: Whose deadline am I following? And how is your age any reflection on your personality or your life plan?
Once I realised that I’m the only one who can set goals for my life plan, and that I reserve the right to change them if and when I please, things became a lot easier. Sure, every so often I wince a little when I see other ‘established’ thirty-somethings and the place they’re in in their lives. However, soon enough it becomes clear to me that I wouldn’t swap with them for all the tea in a Limerick woman’s kitchen. Because that life is fine for them, but it’s just not built for me.
Age isn’t a race. It’s not a barometer to gauge where you are in life versus where the world (or your parents or friends) think you should be. It’s a numerical representation of how long you’ve been alive on this lovely planet of ours. Now THAT’s worth celebrating and being grateful for.
I’m not going to be 32. I’m still going to be Jen, who happens to be reaching 32 years in existence on Earth in a few weeks. I don’t look my age, and I never plan to. I hang out with people who are interesting and dynamic and diverse in age, and I’ll sit and chat to anyone I feel a connection with. I’m a full-time student again and loving every minute of it. When I qualify and land myself an awesome teaching job, you can bet your bottom dollar that I’ll still be playing on the tyre swing in Curraghchase with my equally insane friends on our time off. The only difference between that and when we were teens is that now we can drive ourselves there. Watch out world, We’re big kids with cars!!!