Thirty years young

By Jade Hu Source:Global Times Published: 2017/8/23 15:48:39

For the past few weeks, I've been gloomy over the fact that I will be turning 30 soon.

When you reach the age of 30, it more or less means your relatives will be either hounding you to get married or if you are married, they will be campaigning to convince you to have children right away.

In the past few years, I have probably heard 1,000 different ways of people hinting at me having a baby.

Last month, my grandmother even decided to cut to the chase and move the conversation into the open. When I called her, she bluntly said, "Oh, by the way, you two can stop using contraceptives now!"

I am also getting jitters about my career. Turning 30 has me looking back at my career and wondering whether I'm at the height I'm supposed to be at, as well as subconsciously comparing myself with classmates to see whether they achieved more than me.

There are other areas I get anxious about as well.

Am I at the right body weight? Have I read enough books? Am I socially active enough? Am I healthy? The questions keep coming to me, and the root is I'm terrified about turning 30.

In Chinese culture, there have always been beliefs about turning 30. There's an old Chinese saying that describes turning 30 as a new life stage; when you are 30, you are supposed to be wise, stand on your own two feet and be entirely independent. There's no more fooling around.

Society has also been hard on people in their 30s. Being 30 comes with expectations such as owning a house, being a director in a company, going to work in suits or being surrounded by beautiful, well-behaved children. You can party hard up to 29, but the minute you turn 30 you'd better behave and be the image society wants you to be.

It isn't this way in many other cultures, and it doesn't have to be this way with everybody.

I have a cousin who celebrated her 30th birthday by backpacking in Peru. She sent me a photo of her standing next to the relics of Machu Picchu with a "thumbs-up" gesture. To her, 30 is just a number. She may turn 40, 50 or 60, and she will always have the same level of energy and curiosity about the world. And hopefully, that's the same path I will take.

This article was published on the Global Times Metropolitan section Two Cents page, a space for reader submissions, including opinion, humor and satire. The ideas expressed are those of the author alone, and do not represent the position of the Global Times.


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