Social pressures of being in my 30’s

While scrolling through facebook last night, I saw a little video clip of a man making a speech. I have no idea what the rest of his speech was about but the part this video showed was him saying:

‘… if a woman is 32, never been married, and never had any kids, then something is wrong with her… in my experience this has been true…’ He was implying that this ’32 year old woman’ should be avoided at all costs!

A woman stood up and countered this argument saying (I’m paraphrasing because it was a long rant):

if a woman is 32, unmarried with no dependents, it’s because she’s educated, career-oriented, and ‘a boss’ (I took this liberally, I doubt she actually meant ‘his boss’, but I’d like to believe that this is the case) who anyone would be lucky to have.

Why is this even a conversation that’s being had? Don’t people realise that we put enough pressure on ourselves based on personal, societal and familial expectations? I’m turning 32 this year and I have no prospect of a husband before that time. It doesn’t mean that this year, on my birthday, I’m going to wake up damaged (or anymore damaged than I already am haha) to the point that something is significantly wrong with me and I’ve now passed into the threshold of unmarriable. I’m not where I thought I would be by this age… but I’ve also experienced, endured and conquered so much more than I ever thought I would. In my 31 years on this earth, 21 were spent at home in Canada, educating myself and enjoying my life: getting first level degrees in Law and Justice and Political Science, learning French, playing sport, making friends and developing general social skills. In the other 10 years I travelled to 47 different countries (I recently found out that it wasn’t 50, which I thought it was: that was a tough day, but not in the way you’d think, and that’s enough for a whole other post). In these experiences I’ve:

  • lived in 6 countries (found work, apartment, friends, made a life, etc),
  • travelled in 6 continents,
  • backpacked,
  • met locals from these countries and discussed culture, religion, etc.,
  • met randoms and made friends I’ve still maintained to this date,
  • pushed my limits in everyway and recognised my strengths,
  • fought off several assaults (both sexual and non) and one kidnapping,
  • experienced natural wonders,
  • observed natural phenomena most people would only see in books or on tv,
  • completed a Master of Human Rights,
  • found a career I love (even if contractual at the moment),
  • breached six figures as my salary at 30 years old,
  • adopted a cat,
  • donated blood and money to charity, volunteered, etc…
  • started to learn Italian,
  • begun personal-interest courses and learning in Psychology,
  • found my favourite hobby/sport (beach volleyball),
  • found out I’m artistic(ish): crocheted a blanket, cross-stitched, painted, etc…
  • this list could go on forever.

How is it that someone who has accomplished this much can still be seen as unmarriable? By these ‘social’ standards, I’m a failure. I have such a hard time wrapping my head around how this can be so ingrained in Western culture still today. I’ve always achieved every goal I’ve set for myself other than the ones that society forces on women (and some men, I know) of a certain age. My original ‘life-long career goal’ was to be in a position to manipulate government policy. Well, that happened 2 years ago and I found myself in a strange position. At that point I was engaged, living in paradise, educated, had travelled, and had at that point realised that I had already accomplished the career goal I had assumed would take me a lifetime: all before I turned 30. And rather than relish in this success, I found myself lost.

Despite social pressures, I realised I was not living to my full potential. I decided to redevelop a career goal to work towards and acknowledge that it’s not a life-long one. When I accomplish this one, and I will soon (I’m currently awaiting publication in Parliament and then I will have completed it), I will develop a new goal and work towards that one. I also realised at that point that I was engaged to the wrong person, and I decided that society can go f*ck itself. I’m not choosing to marry the wrong person just so that I won’t ‘miss my chance’ as I get older. It was a very tough decision and it’s had lasting effects, but, 18 months on and I’m still strong. All of my experiences have had lasting effects and some of them have hardened me more than most would be comfortable with (you try fighting off being dragged into a van in the middle of Africa and have it not alter your perspectives)… but I have to state my opinion here: I’m far from unmarriable (yes, I’m biased).

My main focus at the moment is a personal goal. And it’s to see myself for who I truly am and to figure out which path suits me best – regardless of society and outward opinions. It’s also partially why I started this blog – to develop personally, but also in hopes that it reaches anyone else who is struggling at the moment. I may not be able to change society or social standards, but maybe I can shed some light on a different perspective. I struggle daily with what I have accomplished vs what I should have accomplished by now. I’m aware that my biological clock is ticking and I don’t need any misogenysts or antequated theories to remind me of this. But I’m also aware that I may not want children or a husband, and that until now, I’ve lived a life most others haven’t. So why then, am I still holding myself to the same standard that I’m arguing against? Because of those social standards telling me where I should be at this point. I have to say though, trying to fit myself into this little box with everyone else is truly taking away from all the things that make me who I am.

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