Tag Archives: hang over

Single and turning thirty: grey hairs and living your life in colour

I’m sneaking in the back door of my thirties, single with no kids, without mortgage or pension plan. The only thing I nurse is a weekly hang over. I have more in common with my 19-year-old sister and her friends than with some of the people my own age, who have settled down with houses and children and professional careers. I, on the other hand, spend most of my free time mooching on Facebook (how else do you think I know about my married and high-powered peers?), cracking up at FAILBlog videos, browsing Penneys and River Island for this weekend’s outfit, and watching episodes of True Blood and Glee.

I know I haven’t grown up in the conventional sense but tell that to my body. Yes, I can still climb a flight of stairs but two consecutive nights on the tiles now takes me up to four days to get over. And yesterday, I spotted an unwelcome patch of grey hair. I had prepared myself for this moment for a long time. I’d had visions of myself wailing as I yanked the wiry feckers out with break-neck speed. But I was surprisingly calm. It was an observation rather than a critical self-assessment. And there is such a thing as hair dye. This is a normal part of growing older, I thought maturely. I’ve had so many life experiences. I’ve lived, suffered, enjoyed and explored. And I’ve gathered awareness and wisdom along the way.

We can accept (or ignore) the approach of old age but, as women, it’s pretty difficult to mute the deafening ticking of that infamous biological clock. In a loud night club, an old friend informed me of her plan to bear a child when she was no older than 35 years of age. “But I want to be married when it happens. For at least a year. And I’d like to be engaged for a year before that, and with the guy for at least two years before he proposes. Which means,” she realised in panic, “I need to find my husband NOW!” Talk about taking the fun out of Copper Face Jacks!

I prefer to avoid thinking about growing older by joining randomly amusing Facebook groups like: “All my friends are getting married and having kids. I’m just getting drunk!” Hilarious, right? Until you’re the last one standing. On a lonely, dusty shelf. A single girl I know is part of a close-knit group of college friends. Everyone else in the bunch is now enjoying marital bliss. At the wedding of the last of her friends to tie the knot, an old woman asked her, “Are you married, missy?” “No,” she retorted crossly. The lady looked confused, “But you’re engaged, right?” She turned to the woman and answered sweetly: “I’m going to get married later in life. Then, at least it’ll have a chance at lasting!” Good point.

What is it with society and the pressure enforced upon us to follow a set schedule as to when we should settle down? Shouldn’t we enjoy our freedom for as long as it lasts? I’m delighted that I’m single and childless at the moment. How else could I enjoy the luxury of writing this blog every day, of heading off on a weekend away at a moment’s notice, of going back to college as a mature student, of worrying about fake eye lashes and yoga classes instead of nappies and jaundice and mortgage repayments? Opportunity and possibility presents itself at every street corner. I could backpack in Peru, spend a year in Oz, teach for a semester in Vietnam, party a long weekend away in Berlin. I can have a summer fling with a younger man, and spend an entire Sunday in bed chuckling at laughing babies on YouTube rather than crying at screaming babies in real life. I don’t doubt that the life of the settled person is extremely rewarding but I don’t have that yet so why not enjoy the liberties I do have?

Our grandparents’ and parents’ generations had to wait for all their children to grow up before they could go off and enjoy themselves. For us thirty-something single folk, why wait for retirement to live it up? Why not go travelling or take up salsa lessons now, when we’re still young, and mobile, and are the proud owners of healthy and functioning sex drives?

Getting hit by your thirties doesn’t have to hurt. Here’s how to soften the blow:

1) Celebrate!

Rather than turn it into an embarrassing and clandestine affair, have a party! Rejoice in the fact that you’ve left your twenties and entered your thirties as a wise, mature, confident (wo)man. It’s not something to be ashamed of. It’s something to be embraced.

2) Look after yourself

The less pressure and stress you put yourself under, the better your body, mind and appearances will keep. Take time out of your busy schedule to relax, exercise, and have fun. Try to eat natural foods, get out in the fresh air as much as possible, take up a hobby you enjoy, and laugh long and hard and often.

3) Be childlike

Spending time with children will help you reconnect with that child inside. Even alone, you could make a jigsaw, paint a picture, take out the skipping rope, or blow bubbles. Root out your favourite childhood movie. It’s guaranteed to take you back in time.

4) Don’t worry, be happy

The less you worry about growing older, paying bills, finding “the one”, and moving up the career or property ladder, the better. Yes, you have to be responsible at times but not all the time. Let your hair down every once in a while. Go dancing. Drink cocktails with your friends. Try paint-balling. Play charades. Forget about deadlines and putting the bins out and just have fun!

5) Accept that you are exactly where you’re supposed to be

You may think that, at this age, you should be five years married with three kids and a beautiful home but that’s not the case. Life has other plans for you right now. That’s not to say you’ll never have a family but there’s a reason you’re unattached at the moment. Accept it and recognise that everything is in perfect order. Sit back and enjoy how it all unfolds.

6) Be a trailblazer

Why listen to society, follow tradition, and listen to “shoulds” and “musts”? Be the renegade who does things different. Do exactly what you want when you want. Leave your job as an accountant and set up your own business. Take a class in cocktail making. Give stand-up comedy a shot. Date somebody totally unsuitable. Move to Buenos Aires. Others will be relieved that someone else isn’t conforming and will be dying to follow in your adventurous footsteps.

7) Update your CV

I’m not talking about the CV you type up for a potential employer, I’m talking about the CV of your life. Curriculum vitae is a Latin expression meaning “course of life”. You have over 30 years experience in dealing with this life. Use it to your advantage. You now know a lot more about what you want and don’t want, what works for you and what doesn’t. Use this know-how to make your life more positive and manageable. Your age is a sign that you’ve lived and learned. So, don’t look on it as a bad thing. Once, I overheard a man in his sixties being asked his age. He replied proudly: “I’m 21. With 45 years experience.”

8. Do it all!

Now is the time to grab on to life and do all the things you’ve ever wanted. Turning 30 is an inevitable milestone and it makes you think about your life, what you’ve done with it, and what you’d still like to do. You’ve probably come to a lot of realisations and are living in a place of more awareness. Wonderful! When better to appreciate experiencing all life has to offer than right now? However small or monumental the step, just do it. So, take a year out and experience a new culture. Write a novel. Audition for a musical. Learn how to play the guitar. Write a song. Study Italian. Go skiing for the first time. Tell your crush how you feel. Have a dinner party. Take up belly dancing. Go scuba diving. You owe it yourself to live life. Really live it. Because that’s what it’s there for.

Living life: Backpacking in South America. Ipanema Beach, Rio de Janeiro.

And if it’s your birthday, this one’s for you…

Heart-break: when your other half leaves, are you just 50 per cent there?

You know that moment when you’ve lost someone. It’s in their eyes. The way they don’t look at you. And suddenly, your hand on their neck feels unwelcome. The sweet name you’re about to call them sticks in your throat. That person is no longer there for you.

He’s driving me home. Doing the right thing. He’s not a bad person. But he’s got many issues and for that, I know it’s for the best that it’s over. But logic and heart ache reside in two separate parts of the body and I can’t reconcile the two. Not yet.

When it’s over, I return to my apartment. I walk from room to room. We danced to Mumford and Sons on the radio right here. He wrapped himself in my blanket there. We ate a fry at that table. We bathed here and washed each others’ hair.

Then, there’s the bedroom. I sink onto the bed and find a dark hair on the sheet. The pillow smells of him. The tears come now.

I want him to take this pain away. But he’s not here for me any more. I have to do this myself.

Here’s how to survive heart-break:

1. Grieve the loss

I’ve found myself sobbing on the bedroom floor for more than one break up. I’ve mourned the loss of the dark-eyed, curly-headed children that my ex-husband and I would now never have. A friend of mine walked around her house wailing for three nights straight. It may seem excessive, uncomfortable and annoying for your flat mates or family but just get it out.

2. Talk it out

With family. With friends. Go for coffee/dinner/drinks. Your loved ones are bound to make you laugh, point out what a dick head he was anyway, and tell you how amazing you are. That’s not gonna hurt.

3. Go on a night out

Get all dolled up. Have a laugh with your friends. Get tipsy. Get chatted up. Maybe even kiss a guy. After any break up, my cousin used to ask me, “Have you erased him yet?” Meaning: “Have you kissed another guy yet, which will erase the last guy?” Easier said than done. And sometimes being with a new guy will just make you miss your last one even more. But just know that you’re desirable and there is hope for the future.

Drinking a lot may seem like a great idea at the time. But the next day, the blues could hit you even harder than before. Just be aware that it’s the alcohol and sleep it off as best you can.

4. Stop all contact

I’ve fallen into being friends with an ex, which does not help you get over the guy. You’re constantly being reminded of him, and maybe secretly hoping that he’ll realise you’re “the one”. I removed my last ex as a friend on Facebook, then bawled my eyes out. It was so final. But better in the long run.

5. Holiday!

Think Shirley Valentine or Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Nothing like sunshine and a totally foreign location to get a new perspective on things. Even having a break to look forward to will beat off the post relationship depression.

6. Read A New Earth by Eckart Tolle

This might seem really specific but it worked for me. This book has changed many lives. The way Mr Tolle speaks about the ego, identification, attachment, love and relationships is revelational.

If you’re madly in love, beware. We’ve all grown up with certain ideas about love that come from sickly sweet romantic comedies and slit-your-wrist love songs. We’re all familiar with declarations such as “I can’t live if living is without you” and “You complete me”. No wonder when a relationship ends, we doubt we’ll survive.

The truth is, if we love ourselves and are happy with our lives, the loss of a person, though disappointing, should not turn our world completely upside down. This might be strange or hard for a lot of you to read but the way Eckhart Tolle describes being “in love” makes a lot of sense. He talks about being in love with someone because they fit into the categories you want from a partner. They’re tall, dark and handsome. Or maybe you’re just in a good mood. Have you ever felt really happy and then proclaimed your love for someone? I know I have. It had more to do with how I was feeling than my love for that person. Eckhart Tolle also says that the Spanish way of saying “I love you” (“Te quiero“) literally translates as “I want you”, which is far more honest. You want that person for yourself. You want to control how they behave. And then when you lose that control, love can so easily turn into hate. If your partner does something you don’t like, you can despise them in moments. They cheat on you. They don’t love you any more. They leave you.

If you’re having problems with heart ache, read this book. It’ll change the way you think about love and about life in general. Check out Eckhart Tolle TV for some clips of the man himself speaking…

7. List of cons

My sister told me to write a list of all the reasons why you and your ex are not good together, all the shitty things he’s done to you, how his willy is tiny, etc. If Eckhart Tolle is too spiritual for ya, at least this list will give you a bit of a kick.

8. Remember other exes

This sounds dangerous but when I broke up with my last partner, I remembered how bad I felt when I ended things with previous exes and how, now, I couldn’t give a shit about them. I am so over them. Which means I will be so over this guy soon. Time is a great healer. And if you follow rule number four, it’ll happen sooner rather than later.

If this was your first love, talk to others who’ve been through heart-break before. Know you’re not alone in this. And look at them now as they have fun being single or are happy out in their new relationships.

Check out this video of the hilarious Flight of the Conchords. Laughter really is the best medicine…

Everyone suffers heart ache at some point. Whether it’s the loss of a loved one to death or divorce, to circumstances or someone else, it hurts like hell. But we can survive it. And when we start a new relationship with someone better and much more suitable, who treats you as you deserve, you won’t regret a moment of the heart-break you’ve gone through. It will be worth it.