4 July 2013

30 is too young to give up

On a morning TV show this week they were asking if people should settle when it came to choosing a life partner once they reached 30.  Recently, a friend was freaking out because he was about to turn 30 and hadn't decided what he wanted to be.  Another girlfriend was lamenting that her husband kept wanting to hang out with his friends and drink and he was 30 and should accept that he's too old to be a lad any more.

30 years old.

For context, we're talking 52 years before you're going to die if you're Australian (53 if you're Japanese, 51 if you're a Kiwi, 50 if you're British).  Add a few more years if you're female.  Sure it's averages, but speaking in averages, it is still 47 before you get dementia and 45 before you hit compulsory retirement if you're a Catholic priest.

So unless you're Jesus or a rock star - 30 is nothing.

If you think about the fact that you spent the first 18 years of your life basically learning stuff that you HAD to learn, you're only 12 years into learning stuff you want to learn.  And if you eliminate  most of your 20s which are generally not pretty, you're only about two years into having a clue.

Going on the stats from the ABS in 2012 - you've only been married about a year, you're ten years away from being divorced and you've only just had your first baby.  And that's your first marriage.  A few of us have one or two more marriages to go.  And when it comes to careers (careers - not jobs) - you've got between 7 and 11 to get through according to a series of recent studies - the goal is no longer early retirement and a gold watch.

And sure - 'settle down' if you've met the person that makes you happy but no age is the right age to just plain old 'settle'.  To settle is to give up.  To settle is to live the rest of your life thinking I could have done better. It doesn't just apply to your partner, but to your job, your interests, your education, your friends.  Why would you choose to live your life wondering?

I get biological clocks, I get job security, I get mortgages.  But seriously, when I was 17 - I thought my life would be sorted by 25.  Mainly because 25 seemed so grown up.  I'm 38 now and I still don't believe that I have it sorted.  And I think 25 is so far from grown up.  I feel the same about 38 and have a sneaking suspicion I'll be feeling the same way in a decade or two. There is so much to do and I'm thankful that on the law of averages, I've still got just under 50 years to 'fit it in'.

I can think of no greater tragedy than to settle.  As Barry Hastings said in Strictly Ballroom (and to be fair probably somebody before him because loads of people have this tattoo in Spanish) "A life lived in fear is a life half lived."

My great-aunt M was 80 when she tried sky-diving.  Fauja Singh was 89 when he took up marathon running and 101 when he retired.  Bryce Courtney wrote his first novel at 56.  Imagine if they thought 30 was the age that they needed to have made the decision about the kind of person they were going to be 50 years later.

30 is an early stop.  It's a first chapter.  It's an opening verse.  It's before half-time.

Why stress about having it all done by a certain age?  What a burden to live under?  Averages say you've got bucket loads of time to do anything you want to do.

Unless you are Jesus.  In which case, get a move on.

Baz summed it up best really