Self-care for a Single Thirty Something – Anonymousnotyourwife1214
Life is a formula: you are born, you get good grades, you get a good job, you get married, you have kids, you die. Or so it seems. But what happens when you get to 30 and this hasn’t quite worked out? Perhaps you have your career sorted but you’re still single and feeling the pressure. Perhaps you’re still struggling to get your feet on the career ladder and you are feeling that time is passing you by and you’re not entirely sure what you have to show for it. Regardless, it is so easy to feel like you are a failure if by the time you are hitting your thirties, your life hasn’t followed the formula because for so much of your life, you were conditioned to think so.
So here’s me. I am on the cusp of turning 30, with a job I love but still single, still such a taboo for the Asian community. On top of that, 2020 sucked for so many of us and 2021 does not look to be much better (unless you somehow find yourself waking up in New Zealand). I had big plans for my 30th till the uninvited guest of Covid-19 came along, but you know what? This is the most excited I have been for a birthday. Over the past 5 years, if you’d asked me how I felt about my birthday and birthday plans, I’d have replied saying I plan on wearing black to mourn my youth. However now, I can’t wait to celebrate no matter how and here’s why. Throwback to March last year, as the severity of covid-19 started to dawn on us, the struggle was real. Soon, smashed avo toast brunches were a thing of the past, dinner dates a myth. Once jam packed work schedules and social calendars were replaced with video calls and quizzes, the kind of time when you were having an overachieving day if you bothered to change your pyjama bottoms and put a bra on. As much as lockdown presented waves of uncertainty and feeling down, I took this as a real opportunity to reflect back on my life. Was I happy? Was I fulfilled? Was I looking after myself? 2020 forced me to step back, sit down, grab a tea and reassess. When you are faced with as many societal pressures as an almost 30 singleton, looking after yourself has to be your number 1 priority and so I present my findings to you, the real meaning behind self-care.
Firstly, look after yourself. Do what makes you happy and I’m not just talking about that extra bar of chocolate during your food shop or putting the contents of a smoothie on your hair and face. I used to be run ragged before, working long hours and trying to squeeze self-care in, words that I had associated with just having fun – hanging out with friends at every possible opportunity, getting in some form of physical exercise, multiple slices of cake, and something vaguely resembling a beauty regime. My life felt like I had frantically jumped onto a hamster wheel and I hadn’t had the time to stop and actually get off. This isn’t to say that I plan on turning myself into a hermit with no friends, but I’d rather pace myself, taking time for me at home and going to bed early. It’s so much more refreshing to not be waking up thinking I need a coffee the size of my head to get me through the day. Take the time to learn about your body, nutrition, and work out your own way of being healthy, not through dieting but making lifestyle choices. Everything in moderation served without a side of shame.
Secondly, learn to say no. Marie Kondo your social life, if it won’t bring you joy, don’t go. Think about your friendships, surround yourself with those that have never let you down and reprioritise the rest, who I like to refer to as “surplus”. It doesn’t mean you hate them or are even falling out with them, but spreading yourself thin can be draining. Surplus friendships may be those who rely on you always being around to speak to when they need you, but are almost fictional if you were to reach out to them. They may demand your time on their terms and if that is the case, they need bumping down the friendship hierarchy. Make time for those who wish you well, who give you as much as time as you give them. If at that moment in time, you don’t feel like you can keep giving yourself to others, re-arrange. Be kind to yourself by not letting everyone have a piece of you till there is nothing left. I don’t advocate tit for tat friendships but you want to be clear on who you can depend on and trust, friends that will push you to be the best and surround you with positive vibes, after all, you are the company you keep.
Thirdly, we live in an age of social media which has its up sides as well as the downfalls. Amongst the memes and the funny cat videos, so much of social media is intrinsically toxic with the streams of picture perfect lives. I know some who find posts of loved up couples and children bring them down, so limit how long you are spending on there. I personally find a lot of social media incredibly vacuous with the number of influencers just promoting make up and clothing. Whatever it is, unfollow. Get rid of anything that affects your self-esteem, you don’t need someone else to tell you how to live your life and make you feel bad about yourself. Be proud of your own achievements and focus on the things that make you happy, whether it is that you learnt a new skill or organised a cupboard or something simple like managing to wear matching socks. Pick up that book, paint that picture, re-organise that drawer – be your own influencer and your joy will be your filters.
Last but by absolutely no means least, have faith. You are exactly where you are meant to be. You are not worth less because you don’t have the right job or a husband or children. Anything that is bringing you down, I won’t say block it out – too easily said. For me, I write and find it a cheap form of therapy. I jot it down but remember to finish with things I am grateful for and then close the book, tucking away any negativity. If writing isn’t for you, doodle it, voice note it, whatever works! Prioritise the blessings in your life and you will begin to see that things aren’t so bad. It is the real mental workout we need, to build strength.
So you see, I may be turning 30 soon but allowing myself to step back and re-evaluate has armed me with new tools to break in the new decade. Nourish yourself with real self-care, the true meaning of soul food. Forget the formula, life isn’t a science experiment, it’s a rollercoaster to be enjoyed.