‘Keep calm, it’s just another day.’ That’s you trying to convince yourself there’s nothing more to it than the usual birthday. That’s until you look into a mirror and it suddenly dawns on you that you just became an adult for a second time, but this time, you can’t get away with things so easily anymore. Unless you’re not from this world where there is a general obsession about looking young and beautiful even at 90, you find yourself staring intensely at your image in the mirror and then you notice those bad boys a.k.a the wrinkles. ‘These were never there!’ That’s you screaming at yourself in your head and going into hysterics. Then your phone rings interrupting your thoughts. The minute you pick up your phone you notice ‘Mami boy is calling’ (married and has a son). She’s definitely calling from work because she has a job. Reality hits you once again (no husband, no children, no job). Then comes this thought, the perfect icing on the cake ‘…. a woman over thirty is more likely to get hit by a bomb than find a man.’ At this point tears start swelling up in your eyes. What you are experiencing right now is a flood of mixed feelings you have no control over as you drift gradually into a state of shock and depression.
Some would say these are simply the rantings of a lunatic or better still, a blatant exaggeration of circumstances. To others it is a jolting reality check. Clocking 30 could be the most horrifying reminder of one’s failures or the perfect highlight of one’s successes so far. Believe it or not, this is one of those times when it actually dawns on you that you might be lagging behind on a couple things in life. It could be an education, a permanent job, marriage, a couple of kids or a series of other personal goals which conventionally, should have been attained before 30. Whatever the case maybe, this is a time when most people tend to reflect intensely on their lives, in an attempt to redefine their life path by assuming more goal-oriented responsibilities.
In Africa it is generally believed that the aging anxiety in young men and women tends to differ significantly in the sense that, most young African men seem to worry more about their career advancement and lesser about marriage. Meanwhile, their female counterparts are more concerned about founding a family. To determine whether or not this is merely a myth or a fact for modern day African men and women, we decided to put this assumption to a test by asking some Africans to share with us what turning 30 actually means or meant to them with regard to their goals and aspirations in life.
Christopher (Tanzania): 30 was the trigger phase in my life. I started thinking more about my life in general. At thirty I was still studying but at that point I was thinking a lot about getting a good job and finding someone to settle down with. Your family back home wants to see something concrete in your life. So, I had to start taking things like that seriously. By the age of 38 I got married and started to build a family of my own.
Chiedozie (Nigeria): I will be turning 30 in two years and I don’t think that will change the person I am. I know what I want in life and I am working towards it. Right now I am focusing on my studies. After my studies I want to work and kick off with my career. It is important to get a stable job first so you can start building your life from there. I’m still a young man and I have my whole life ahead of me. Marriage is something for later, maybe in my 40’s.
Bernice (Cameroon): I am 35 and I am married with 2 kids. I got married at the age of 27 and it was the best choice I made. Women are not like men. Our bodies do not permit us to have children at any age. It’s important we have children as early as possible preferably in our twenties. By the time we grow old our children will be able to take care of us. I don’t understand it when some women say marriage is a hindrance to progress because it keeps us from realising our dreams. Women can get married, have kids and still follow their dreams. I am a living example. As a married woman people tend to respect you more. It guarantees your security in the family as well as in the community.
Pascal (Togo): At 30 you are no longer the young boy you used to be. This is the time when you actually become a man and you have to start thinking like a man. When you look at friends or colleagues with their families you envy them and you want to be like them one day. That means you have to start living a life that will permit you to be a good husband and a good father. You have to start making money so you can build a house and provide for your family. When I was in my twenties I didn’t look at my life this way. The change comes naturally and you have to accept it.
Emmanuella (Cameroon): I am not old but I am definitely older than I used to be. I have become more thoughtful and I want to make something meaningful out of my life. Marriage is obviously in my plan but you cannot force anyone to marry you. Until that happens I am concentrating on my career. The women of today are not like the women of yesterday. We want to be independent. We want to contribute more to society. I think marriage and work/career should work hand-in-hand.
Myth or fact? That would depend greatly on the individual. Turning 30 is nevertheless an amazing twist in one’s life because “the only time you fully live is from thirty to sixty. The young are slaves to their dreams; the old servants of regrets. Only the middle-aged have all their five senses in the keeping of their wits “- Hervey Allen. Oh my God you’re just thirty. Own it, rock it, slay it.