How much fun is life? You grow up, soak up everything around you, you learn to walk, run and speak and then you go on to get an education, you learn about social behaviour and love and heartbreak and then you get this moment between growing up and well…death and you stand around and watch. It’s like a movie of your life…with you as the main actor. Now I’m not sure if the current thought process is related in any way to my “I’m turning 30 in 2 months” reality, but let’s just throw a bow around both the ideas of aging and love and understand them together, because for me, this is a required understanding.
It’s the time in my movie where everyone else is getting engaged, where babies and weddings are the order of the day and my Facebook page seems to be smothered with images of lace, diamonds and gorgeous little humans. It’s an exciting time and my heart bursts with the purest joy for every single one of them.
Most ‘people’ believe that the best years of your life happen during the “movie years”. But what we sometimes forget to remember…is that everyone has their own movie. The conflicting views are these; firstly, society believes that for those of us nearing 30 and just beyond…the NEXT phase of movie making is ULTIMATELY, lace, diamonds and gorgeous little humans. The second view is that if you aren’t at that stage then your movie is obviously on pause because life can’t happen without the required lace, diamonds and gorgeous little humans (ok, I’ll stop saying that now)… and then you’re constantly reminded not to worry…because “your person is out there.”
In terms of aging, many authors and people of great wisdom (as seen on Facebook) tell you that after 30 everything changes – friendships, love, life and goals. I assure you…this is NOT true. The truth is, it changes about 6-10 months before you turn 30. Perhaps like the process of birth – preparation for the next part of your movie (whatever the screenplay looks like). In my pre-birth months, I found myself separating myself from exhausting friendships, from required relationships and from ‘expected expectations’, enjoying solitude and learning to function independently. I found myself making decisions that gave me joy, regardless of the opinions of others and basically just living for me. It’s liberating and insanely satisfying.
Before we get too caught up…know that I do believe ‘my person’ is out there, I do understand the importance of people around me…but I also know the importance of this chapter in my screenplay and how one day when I require lace, receive a diamond and am planning for gorgeous little humans – these moments right now will make perfect sense.
If I take a look back at the memory of the past year, my lessons on how I had viewed love, relationships and how my “paused” movie had affected me from the inside were realised in each major moment of 6-10 months before 30… I flew across the globe to don a pink dress, the most perfect eyebrows and sign as a witness to one of my best friends promising her love to what was an exciting romance and a whole lot of stuff changing for her really quickly. This friendship had always been based on the most real realness – we share honesty at the highest level with no judgement of insanity. No matter how far apart, we always look for each other between the chaos, so it was only normal for me to get the mandatory ‘ah-ha’ moment during a face-to-face convo with this friend (which rarely happened because of sea and space). As I sat a night or two before her wedding and had the ‘required’ maid of honor conversation (“Are you happy?”, “Are you certain?”, “How do you know?”), I finally came to peace with so many different things. What my very real friend threw at me was that love isn’t always wonderful, that relationships take parts of you and bruise you and that commitment means making sense of that and then one day, finding someone who you want to love through ALL of that. It means constant compromise and always thinking about another person and the impact your actions have on them. My learning and development stages didn’t prepare me for this understanding (even though this is probably something I should’ve understood clearly before my pre-birth session). As I listened to her explanation of love, I remember her saying “I have never been more sure of anything”, and my love-yearning heart became settled. Her love was admirable, her decision to spend her life with this man who had blown away anything negative and created simple pleasures – that love was amazing and while parts of me longed for it, I now understand that this love that she has is what makes her marriage a magical one. My nearly 30 year old self is not ready for that. Maybe because I have never experienced the compromised promises and reassurance through absolute trust. I am not ready to love beyond being ‘sometimes not wonderful’, I am not healed from previous bruises to be sometimes bruised for all eternity and I am not sure of anything, especially loving past negativity. But at ‘6-10 months before 30’…. It’s really ok. It’s okay to not be ready for the next phase of love, but this doesn’t mean my movie stops. It’s okay to still be learning to trust and to still be figuring out how to move into absolute surety and its ok for your movie to continue without those steps towards sunsets and forever.
In these years leading up to 30, I have battled with appreciation of self, with ‘requiring’ things from those who ‘love’ me. With meeting worldly expectations and with trying to bring happiness to everyone around me, sometimes at the expense of my own. The third trimester of my 30 baby brings with it the realization that my giving of myself doesn’t guarantee that I will receive the same extensions from others. That feeling something doesn’t mean it will be reciprocated, that requiring certain behaviour is necessary and that seeing beauty doesn’t mean everyone has the same lenses.
Just recently, another one of my best friends got engaged. This engagement was no surprise, not because of the love shared between her and her partner for many years, but because of who she is. She loves love, she loves commitment and she loves sharing things with another person. She has a co-dependent love. A love that has her serving selflessly, giving continuously with no expectations or requirements and a love that needs just another person to receive. We are totally different. So marriage for her means that her heart will be happy forever, that she will always have a person to share things with and love in the most unselfish way and she deserves that kind of happiness. I on the other hand…would run from those things. I don’t want co-dependence, I cannot imagine selflessly loving another person and I don’t want to rely on another person for my happiness. The thing is that as each person has their own makeup, so too your love will be different. Some will experience co-dependent love and thrive, others of us need the security of self to feel appreciated. But each love story makes for a different and yet equally magical movie.
At this stage in my life I have become so painfully independent. Painfully so, because, my OCD tendencies require certain things to remain constant. I have removed any spaces for entry into my fortress and my routine and desires have become my only concern. I love that my home is peaceful and quiet, I love that my toilet seat is never left up and I love that my books can still take up a large portion of my evening.
Engagements are an exciting time. Love is a wonderful thing and marriage is a beautiful and magical union of love and commitment…But my view is from the other side.
Over the past 29 years of life I have; worn 12 different bridesmaid gowns, I have gone for at least 30 dress fittings, and I have planned bridal showers, kitchen teas and managed mother-in-laws. I have been woken up at the crack of dawn to beautify myself on countless occasions, I have held bouquets, fixed trains and veils, and I have written speeches and encouraged her during pre-wedding nerves. I have been a bridesmaid. This title is an honour and for someone to choose me, well for so many women to choose me is something I should feel proud of. But, the reality is that at this stage I’m not feeling proud, I’m feeling exhausted and like it’s time for me to throw the bouquet, make foolish demands and ask for specific shoe colours. BUT…my yearning for this title has absolutely nothing to do with my actual readiness for the next phase with someone. It has nothing to do with my desire for co-dependence or independent love. Instead it has everything to do with what is expected of me. What Facebook throws at me at this time and what the world says I should be doing? Because without that next chapter in my movie…life is incomplete and I will always be “waiting for him” to complete my movie moment.
Right now, just before the birth of 30, I have SO much to be excited about. I have a thriving career and I am really good at what I do (for real). I am continuously meeting new and interesting people (some more than others). I seem to be going on lots of adventures which makes my soul smile. I have reached many of the goals I set out and have procrastinated on many others, but all round, it’s been a pretty good movie and the rest will bring with it a whole lot of surprises. Yes, I am ready for a joint movie, I am ready to let the fortress gates open and learn to deal with less reading time and toilet seats up – but still without the pressure of expectation.
So the point is this… To my friends getting engaged. I do adore your ring. I am very interested to know how he proposed and how you felt. I honestly and truly share in your joy. I am happy for this new part of your journey and I will celebrate with you, pop champagne and share in the most real way, this new phase in your movie.
To my friends getting married – yes I’ll be a bridesmaid 😉 I am ready for the colours and fabrics and party planning and I love that you’ve found someone to share your life with and I will always be here as your friend, to offer advice, be there during the chaos and the celebrations and I will always encourage the things that you want, even if I don’t want them for myself yet and I will celebrate the biggest scene in your movie in the only way you want to – as if it were the best day of my life too…because I love you enough.
To my friends having babies, I will attend all important events, I will pray for and encourage your children and love them dearly. (And of corse they will love me too 🙂 ). I will dress up for parties, be a clown, hand out lucky packets and bake cupcakes if you need me to. I will share in the accomplishments of your children because I know that these things are important to you and are things that bring you joy. Every single event in your movie is important to me and our friendship will not be affected by the fact that these milestones are reached for you and not me.
My new promotion at work is important to me and is a GREAT accomplishment. My decision to move to a new city for another job is something that I need your input on and it is not a reflection of my inability to settle down. My continuous studying and exams are what will help my movie to be greater one day…encourage that. Don’t overly analyse my behaviour as a need for or lack of something. Don’t question why I won’t settle or accept the advances of every frog dressed up as a prince (I see them!) while your priorities have changed, and your life has begun to take a new and different phase, appreciate that my movie is happening, just not at the same speed as yours. …SO let my movie happen, as it is supposed to. Let me continue as I am and remove the pressure, questions and required actions.
My movie may include a single prince, or a few more frogs. It may include a carriage and diamonds or it may include a few more muddy moments and tears. It has the possibility to be a short story with no frills or romantic clichés, or it may full of grand gestures and excitement (I hope it’s that one). But whatever it is – give it the space to happen and take your pressure that you’re wanting to throw at me…and put it in your pocket. 🙂
Give me time to learn things that I missed in my development stages, to watch and be a part of your beautiful romantic comedy (sometimes) and to decide what I want and don’t want.
Allow me the space to remove people as I need to and to learn from those I want to. Remove the pressure of “Mr. Right” and allow me to appreciate the moments in RIGHT NOW. Understand that our friendship is not dependent on which phase my movie is at in relation to yours and that no matter where I am in life or my movie chapter – I will always believe in the, honest, magical, real, heart stopping, butterfly creating, foot lifting, slow motion, unselfish, committed, life changing, heart altering movie kinda love that you are lucky enough to experience every day…while I wait for the man who will “Have me at Hello.”