Popular culture makes it look like finishing three decades of your life, if you are a woman, is a sad, sad thing. I remember as Monica from Friends, one of the most pop-culture-y shows I have ever had the fortune of coming across, making such a fuss over turning 30. Various magazines, other shows, and books portray 30 as something of a point of no return.
“Things you need to do before 30,” fashion magazine headlines scream.
“Wrong side of 30” is a phrase I’ve heard used for women more times than I can remember.
In India, given that large swathes of our society are still alarmingly in the chokehold of patriarchy, this assumes sinister proportions.
Sinister especially if one is, like me, a single woman.
Patriarchal diktats say that women must get married by 25, or, at the most, 27, and have children before 30. Because, God forbid, should we be seen as something other than baby-producing machines, housekeepers, cooks, and child-rearers. Also, why not get women tied down to domesticity and pile household responsibilities to prevent them from seeking further qualifications or career growth?
As someone who absolutely refuses to conform to any of the diktats regarding women, I have chosen to stay single, and plan to stay single for the coming years.
I validate myself. I approve of me. I am happy with what I have achieved, and what I’m about to do and achieve.
Society goes as follows, regardless:
Single at 30? Baap re!
But does she make a lot of money? Has an MBA and a high-paying corporate job? No? Aiyo!
But is she good looking? Is she moving forward in her career? No? Oof!
Then why is she single? What has she achieved by being single? What’s the point of being single when she’s not earning several lakhs or advancing to top career positions?
She wants to study further? But why? She already has a Master's, no? What will she do with a second Master's?
I don’t mean to be negative, but these are some of the questions coming my way.
But I am choosing not to lose my cool. I am choosing to be positive and move on with my life.
I am choosing to continue writing books, exploring new genres and reading new books.
I am choosing to go to college, at the age of 30, to pursue a second Master's degree. I am choosing to, should everything be alright, get a doctorate and work in a new profession. I am choosing to move to a new country and experience a new culture. I am choosing to live a life where I have the freedom to do what I feel is right and to live the way I want.
I am choosing to have my own identity. I am choosing to work hard and make enough to have my own house, my own bank account, and complete independence.
I am choosing to experience life. I am choosing to enjoy my singlehood with food, weekend outings with my sister to bookshops and films, literature, my interactions with writer friends, and my own exploration of movies and series with Netflix and Prime.
I am choosing to learn how to cook what I want when I want. I am choosing to focus on my physical health, lose weight, and learn a dance form in the process ( I went to Zumba classes before lockdown and will continue once the studio opens).
I am choosing to focus on my mental health.
I am choosing to put myself first, and I am choosing to accept that I complete me. Here is welcoming 30 with open arms, and to new adventures.
Photo by Allef Vinicius on Unsplash
Prachi Sharma is a crime novelist, editor, writer, book blogger, and aspiring journalist. She also counts herself as a foodie, coffee freak, chocaholic, bookworm, and experimental cook. The views expressed are the author's own.