Monday, 5 March 2007

Turning 30!

by Rachel

In just under two months I am going to turn the big 3, 0, and up until a few weeks ago it hadn’t bothered me in the slightest. In fact I was one of those people who would insist, ‘I am not worried about turning 30, why would I be’. I was more worried about avoiding celebrating my thirtieth because of my pathological hate for birthdays, rather than the actual fact that I was going to be 30.

And then it happened. I started to panic.

Over the last few weeks I have been delving more into this ‘Turning 30’ lark. Though all I seem to keep getting told by websites and articles is that I should have done a parachute jump, travelled the world, lived in a different country, had a threesome, been involved in some form of kinky sex, paid off my credit cards, own my own house, own a sports car etc. etc.. Surely there are deeper concerns than these?

I am going to be 30, and I feel as if I haven’t achieved anything I wanted to achieve. I’m not married, in fact, I am not even engaged. I guess you could say I am in a ‘stable’ relationship, as yes we are living together, but marriage is a long way off. That started more panic, ‘Oh God, I am going to be an old bride, if in fact I ever get to be a bride’. Then I worry more about the fact that I am one of the few women that I know who is going to turn 30 and that no one has proposed to, am I really that poor a catch?

Then the panic about having children sets in. I don’t actually like children, but hey I would like the option to have them, but surely my biological clock is already ticking, it’s almost as if I can already hear it. Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock. Perhaps I would like to have children, there was a time in my life when I wanted two, in fact I remember it precisely, I wanted a boy first and then a girl and would have been sorely disappointed if it had not worked out that way. Now I would just like the option to have a child, to actually find a mate who would like to have a child with me and before it is too late. There is goes again, tick tock, tick tock, tick tock.

Don’t even get me started on my career, as far back as I can remember I have always wanted to be an actress. For years I dreamt of being ‘found’, I lived the deluded dream that one day a Television or Film director would just come across me at Gerrards Cross train station whilst on my way home from school. It’s not like I actually attempted to ‘be’ an actress, I didn’t go to Drama School, or studying acting at college or University, I just thought that I was destined to be found. By the time I was 18 and hadn’t yet been ‘found’ I went to University to study Media in the hope that if I got a job in Television I would be ‘found’ behind the scenes, in the same way that Caroline Aherne was.

The biggest blow to my acting career came when the actor John Thaw, famous for playing Inspector Morse, died in 2002. I had spent since 1988 fantasising that my first acting role would be playing alongside John Thaw, I even came up with the idea that unknown to Inspector Morse he had actually fathered a child, and I would be the person cast to play that role of his daughter. The day John Thaw died marked the end of my ‘dream’. Since then I have just resigned myself to the fact that I was actually destined to be behind the camera and not in front of it.

I started work in television nearly nine years ago, and the nearest to being an actress was when I worked as a Script Supervisor on ‘Most Haunted’ for Living TV where I spent hours in the middle of night looking for ghosts with a DV Camera in hand. I finally have to face that career wise I will turn thirty never having accepted the BAFTA and Oscar that I had dreamt of .

Sheila Pansal and Ellen Jackson writers of the book ‘Turning 30’ say: “Remember when you were 20, when you danced till dawn, dated people you knew you shouldn’t, worked hard, played hard, spent money on stuff you didn’t need…..”

Well what’s really changed? OK, I don’t dance until dawn as much as I did when I was 20, but it’s only because most of my mates are married or settled down. As for dating men that I shouldn’t, I am living with a married man. I don’t think I could have ended up dating anyone less ‘suitable’, and I certainly wouldn’t have dated a married man when I was 20!

Working hard, well when I am working, yes I do work hard, bloody hard in fact, far harder than I would have done when I was in my early twenties. Back then I didn’t actually care so much for the job as I did for the pay packet.

And what about the spending money on things I shouldn’t, at 20 I was spending £25 on a top for a night out with the girls, at 29 and 10 months I have far more expensive taste and at certain times during my late twenties have been known to spend near on £1,000 on three items of clothing, hardly something I think that my bank manager would approve of.

The truth is that when you hit thirty you start to wonder what you want to do with your life, will you ever be happy, fulfilled or successful. I think that reality finally slaps you in the face and you realise that you have to stop fantasising about your future. There isn’t going to be a dream man with no baggage, who will whisk you off your feet and take you away to Paris for a candlelit meal for no other reason than that he loves you. That children don’t always come when you want them, and if you are lucky enough to have one, then the best time to have them is when they can be made is out of love and not just because one or other partner wants one. And that perhaps it was time to get focused on what you really wanted to do with your career, rather than haphazardly moving from job to job in the hope that one day you will actually be in a career that you enjoy, rather than working for money.

I was rather intrigued to find out that in Astrology there is a period between 28 and 30 called Saturn’s Return. According to astrologers it is the first time that Saturn completes a cycle through your birth chart and is in the same place that it was at the time of your birth. Astrologers believe this to be one of the most important times in your life, a time of endings and beginnings.

As with any new phase in life, embarking on something ‘new’ can feel unsettling and even unpleasant as we are taken out of the comfort zone of what we know. Saturn’s Return is about examining what you truly want or desire, and although it is a very trying time, remember that anyone else who has turned 30, no matter what position they were in has probably felt the same frustration, loneliness and alienation. You need to realise that you do have friends out there who are probably going or have gone through the same set of emotions and that it is not always good to shut people out. By talking to other people about how you feel you can hopefully come to some understanding of what you want from life.

At the end of the day whether it is Saturn’s Return or just a Quarter life crisis, what turning 30 symbolises is the fact that you are now embarking on adulthood. You are now a fully fledged adult, and with that comes the feeling of responsibility, a sense that you need to be accomplishing things.

So next time you panic that you’re not getting married, or having babies, or in the right job or relationship, just remember that it is a natural progression, it’s written in the stars. As soon as you’re past that actual birthday hopefully you can just get on and start enjoying finally being a grown up.

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