Are single middle-aged and childless women destined to become lonely old Crones? Why 33 is tough!
Today was a hallmark birthday for me. I turned an age that the numerology folk call the master number. The master number is one where both digits in your age are the same. Such as 11, 22, and for me, 33. It's hard to believe that I am 33. What happened to Sweet 16? I remember that day like it was today. Except my 16th birthday was not the day after a U.S. Election. My mind trips at the thought that I'm now old enough to be the mother of a 16-year-old had I been 16 and pregnant.
Every birthday has been different but this one was bittersweet. The first thing that was unique about it was how tearful I almost got when telling co-workers that yes, it was my birthday and not an attempt by the pranksters trying in good fun to get management to buy me lunch. On the surface my life is full and fulfilling. There are many things I'm grateful for. I don't want to be 16 or 21 or 25 again. What made me reflect more and celebrate less today was the reminder of the life stage I am now in. When my mother was my age she had a 10 and five-year-old. She had been married a dozen years already, and she and my father were homeowners for the third. So understanding the vast lifestyle difference between my mother and I at 33, had my heart mourning my birthday.
Despite how much things have changed there still is an innate sense in the world of the right time to be living a certain way. People don't marry as young as they did back in the 1950s, 1960s, and even the 1970s. Still, to realize how unrecognizable my life is compared to my mother is daunting. Many of my fellow 30-something friends are single and child free so the social pressure is off. Even friends and colleagues who are married with kids and share my generation are hip and fun and don't pressure me either. My parents and relatives have never ever asked when I will settle down with someone to create a family of my own. So again, there is no pressure on me. Pop culture actually celebrates the liberated single. I came of age in the Sex and the City era. Even then, Charlotte was my favorite modern woman archetype. She was the socialite who was the most committed to being committed to the white picket fence existence. Like Charlotte, I always wanted kids.
So what has triggered all this philosophical thinking? It's not the kids (or lack thereof), spouse (the nonexistent one), house (at least that's here) or job (I love mine). What prompted all this circumspection is my own analysis of the gap between goals still not accomplished verses the dwindling amount of time available to make them happen. I still want to cross off certain life tasks from my to-do list. My soul knows that time is no longer on my side. It has not been in my favor since I hit the big 3-0 or even 27. Life just accelerates after you hit the quarter-century mark of age 25. Oddly enough, I would never want to have the life I had back then return to my reality. At 25 I was not in California, not living in a spacious house surrounded by plenty of nature, and my mindset was completely different. When I had my quarter century crisis I was living in a downtown hi-rise in a large metropolitan city near the East Coast of a different country. The only thing that really was valuable to me at 25 was that I had a sense of endless time still available to me in generous supply. Time was my asset but without an internal navigation system that develops from a solid sense of self, some precious time got wasted.
Yes we are living longer.With enough delegation and productivity techniques I can catch up with things that still need to be done in my life but the bloom of youth has dried up. To be honest I was thinking today about booking my first appointment for Juvederm injections, reasearched anti-aging spa treatments, and almost hired a professional stylist to keep my look stylish and years younger. Each day that I get older now I think all those tactics are essential things to do in a culture that reveres youth. Turning the master number 33 has triggered such a complex brew of emotions that I worry how the next 11 years will unfold. If I feel this way at 33 what emotions will age 44 bring?
No one wants to look back on their life and think that they still had so much left in them that was never unleashed. Who wants to die with songs unwritten or books unpublished or companies never founded? I don't want to get too esoteric but such perspectives are unavoidable when too much time goes by. We may live in this modern technology rich world with its endless supply of appointments, schedules and social affairs but these digital induced moments and our mobile devices just accelerates time. Is life really about the level of output in a day, year, decade, lifetime? I guess it is. I guess that is how we are measured. The digital age is all about metrics: how many Twitter followers you have, number of Facebook friends, your Klout score, to the social influence of your digital footprint calculated by Google AdSense. Those things might measure how influential we are as conduits in an online viral marketing campaign but they can't measure whether our life was an accomplishment of destiny. Do any of these statistics even come close to giving an account of our quality of person, our character, or how touching our contribution to others and the world really is? Numbers are only precise to a point.
I may be older and wiser but I don't know the answer to these questions. Maybe Socrates could answer my question with