Around 45 days before, on a bright sunny Wednesday, I turned thirty. That’s right, the big number for ladies or as we have been told always. People close to me and especially my husband would know that I am a big sucker for birthdays. I start my birthday countdown as early as two months prior. But this year was different. They say thirty for females is when they turn into a woman. And I was not sure if I was ready to embrace that change.
But, the last 45 days, living as a thirty-year-old, totally changed my outlook towards the terrifying thirties. But of course, it did not happen suddenly, it was a gradual change that I believe happened over the past year. So before I go into the last 45 days, I need to sum up my life as a 29-year-old. Because ladies, that’s where the actual growth happens. So buckle up.
Up until my twenties, it was one of my biggest dreams to fly in an airplane. Fast forward to the present, as part of my work, I am required to travel alone a lot. Beginning with a project in Qatar and now for the past year in the Maldives. Taking up the project in Maldives was a huge leap of faith for me and my husband as I would have to stay away from him for a huge part of the year. As always, my husband, setting the bar high for husbands all around, supported me like a rock in this decision.
A part of my scope of work was to act as a Stakeholder manager, which would mean communicating with the local people and gaining their trust. Being in a different country, and having to navigate between people from a totally different culture was an energizing challenge for me. One of my first realisation in this regard was that a smile goes a long way. No matter how difficult or nervous you find the situation, if you are able to communicate pleasantly, half the work is already done there.
The next thing I learned is to have empathy. No matter what your task is, be empathetic to the person next to you and make a genuine effort to understand what his/ her needs are. Today, when my time here in the Maldives is almost nearing an end, I can say with great happiness that I was successful in my role as a stakeholder manager. And even happier to say that I made some good friends in the process.
The past year has also been a year of many of my firsts. And one of the best things I tried was exploring the underwater life. I never learned to swim, since it is not a common skill where I come from. But to be in the Maldives, a place that is immensely bestowed with rich underwater life, and not explore it, would be such a shame. So, I took the chance, buried my fears deep down, and jumped into those beautiful blue waters. Of course, making sure that I have well-abled people who can save me nearby and with all safety measures. And my God, what a beauty it was! Had I not tried it, I would have missed so much!
I also did one scuba dive early this year. Now that required a lot more courage, but somehow I managed. I feel so blessed that I was given these moments in my life and I was able to use them to the best! The point is, don’t let fear hold you back. Growing up in a culture like ours, there are countless adventures that we don’t embark on, simply due to fear. A fear that was instilled in most of us by the people around us knowingly or unknowingly. Once you move past that fear and at the same time, learn to act responsibly, then life is so much better!
One thing I notice these days is how I have started to love the way I look. There are a lot of insecurities that you might feel in your twenties. I call my early twenties my age of Instagram filters. Beauty filters over beauty filters, just making the picture worse and yet not realising it then. Looking back at those pictures now, I deeply wish that those filters were never invented! Coming to my thirties I am more confident in the way I look because I really don’t give a dime on what others think of my looks. But at the same time, over the last year, I do spoil myself with some time in the salon. But more with a goal of destressing rather than improving the aesthetics.
Growing up, I have always thought it was uncool to be seen alone in the movies and malls. I never went out alone. Remember those school days, when most of us would often call our best friend even to the restroom so as to not to be seen walking alone in the corridor?! But this year I started venturing out alone a little bit. Starting with random trips to the shopping mall. Needless to say, a little bit of alone time makes you feel good. Last week, I took it up a notch and went on to spend a night in a resort all by myself. I would definitely recommend this to everyone! Just be alone and do the things that you love to do. Use some me time to ramp up your forgotten hobbies and skills.
Talking about friends, now would also be a time to accept the fact that your friends could change. It is okay if the top five people in your life now are different from who it was five years back. As you grow, the things you want in life will change and your once best friend might choose for a totally different life than yours. It is quite normal then that you don’t feel the connection anymore. You can still be friends but he/ she might move away from your top five. Normalise this in your life and see this just as a sign of growing up.
Coming back to my birthday itself. July 26th, this year I was away from my husband and family. I was at work. I would not lie, waking up as a thirty-year-old felt weird. Ha-ha, I have still not come to terms with the fact that I cannot apply for an internship for youths anymore as I am past the age group! Anyway, I woke up, expecting nothing special on that day. But unexpectedly it turned out to be one of the best days for me on site. Together with a wonderful team, we were able to rescue around six sea turtles from our work site. Again reminding me that, life is so full of unexpected turns and twists. It hits you with a surprise when you least expect it.
So, my dear ladies, this is what I wish to tell you. Never ever think that your thirties are your time to settle down! Never. Because your thirties is when you can actually start living that wonderful life that you have – the way you want. Do you know why? The answer is simple. Because it is only by the time you are thirty that you yourself realise what you want. You have a clear picture of your dreams, your likes, your dislikes, your friends, and more important what gives you peace in life… And that is where you start thriving!
And what do I want in life now? To be able to sleep like a baby, at the end of the day and wake up the next day with an energy to take on the world. The rest of the dreams I keep to myself for now😉