Thursday, 4 April 2013

Girl 3.0

At some point in our lives, we all carry the psychological burden of at least one irrational fear. Whether it's being flattened into human naan or the unsettling theatrics of clowns and mimes alike, there is always some unreasonable horror that brings out our inner neurosis. Claustrophobia, failure, the fear of fear itself. We're constantly plagued by paranoia, and while most forms of social anxiety can be treated with happy pills and regular visits to the therapist's office, there is nothing we can really do to ease the annual panic that comes with getting older.

When you're single, 29 and going on 30, there is a tiny window period where all mental hell breaks loose. Without warning, the sound of your biological clock (which had once previously minded its own goddamned business) decides to kick into overdrive opening a floodgate to erratic behavior and premature mid-life meltdowns. All of a sudden, that voice of logic and reason is replaced by an overwhelming shriek, taunting you with visions of a life you should have had by the time you reached 30. Marriage or at least the prospect of a serious long-term relationship? Tick! Children? Tick, tick! An Oscar nomination? Tick, tick, tick? Are we really starting to run out of time or are we just being drama queens? 

According to the friends that have already crossed over into their thirties, life couldn't be better. Apparently, all those unnecessary pressures and complex insecurities that plague us in our twenties disappear, and like the phoenix, rise out of the ashes to form a newer, more confident and self-accepting you. Was version 3.0 actually something to look forward to instead of dreading or was "finally getting to know yourself" just a cop out to avoid the daunting reality of thinning hair, gravity and lack of accomplishment? 

As I ventured deeper into Long and Kloof Streets to find traces of my youth, a decent cocktail and a logical reason behind my existential crisis, I received a text message from one of my old sorority sisters. The lovely Ms. Alison Pritchardson was turning 30 and wanted me to join her for drinks and snacks at her favourite local wine bar - you know the one. Ali was my dearest and favourite female friend in college with whom I shared a very special connection. We bonded over the rejection of not getting into the same major and through bitterness and several Nescafe lattes, overcame what would have been a very dull and depressing three years.   

While I was clearly hanging onto to days gone by, Ali seemed to embrace her thirties with open arms. She was happily involved and living in the suburbs with a brand new teaching job at one of the most prestigious drama schools. Not only was she looking her best but she could certainly still rock it with and Britney Bitch! "Although it was not initially what I had planned, I feel like I had closed one chapter of my life and opened another without losing the essence of who I was in my twenties. I don't think you ever change who you are. You evolve. The only thing I'm anxious about is what comes next. Letting go of the past is easy. (yeah right!) It's the fear of not knowing what the future holds that scares me the most which is perfectly rational in my opinion." 

As I clung onto Ali's pearls of wisdom, I couldn't help but wonder whether the stress of turning 30 was all in my head?
Was the crazy behaviour less about clinging onto youth and more about the subconscious fear of letting go of the past and what it representedInstead of seeing my thirties as the next chapter, I was too busy seeing it as the end of an era where incomplete goals and achievements meant failure instead of growth. So what if I wasn't married or that my breakthrough career moment was yet to come? Surely, if we can't let go of the past, we'll never reach the future that lies ahead. 

People are always saying how much greener the grass is on the other side, so perhaps the mini crisis is all part of the journey. We all age, and like a good red wine, perhaps the maturity is for the best. If the physical aspect of getting older is what worries us the most, we can always turn to cosmetic surgery and macrobiotic diets - or formaldehyde. As far as fear and irrational thought are concerned, ain't nobody got time for that. Pull yourself together girl and get over it because the best is yet to come. 

When it comes to growing up, do we need to let go of who we are in order to become the person we were meant to be?

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