Pushing Thirty Within the Myth of a Stable Life
Five minutes ago lipstick was a toy and now me and most of my friends are pushing thirty. How did that happen? Remember Jenna from “13 going on 30”? “Thirty and flirty and thriving”, was the mantra she repeated over and over again, hitting her head to the shelf, wishing to grow up and unintentionally bathing in magical glitter. The glitter falls, the eyes close and open again, and a thirteen-year-old girl wakes up as a 30-year-old woman with full-grown boobs. It feels a little bit like we all did the exact same thing.
9 May 2019
by VAIDA KALKAUSKAITE
This is a personal essay. So brace yourselves, kids, you’re in my territory now.
One day, we wanted adventure, ridiculous piercings and bring back the 50s. We talked about being different at all costs. And suddenly, like an imperfect storm, a new word entered everyone’s vocabulary. Stability. “You know, I just want some stability in my life…”. A stable job, a stable relationship, stable (both, foundation and market-value-wise) real estate. It’s so easy to fall for the promise that once you get that picture-perfect life “on paper”, the rest will fall into place just as easily and just stay there. After everything, after all the failures and downfalls, after the heartbreak and the sadness, there must come a time, protected from all of that. A shelter from the storm, while the sky is still blue, a bandage before the wound, a happy ending before the poisoned apple. The stable life checklist is supposed to be exactly that. But it never is. But who am I to blame the ones who crave stability. I always desire fictional things of the same caliber. A unicorn, for example.
But seriously, how can we even talk about stability?
Our moods and even the way we see the world depend on so many things. Full moon, menstrual cycle, caffeine, the lack of breakfast, things we’ve heard or think we’re about to hear. None of these things lose any of their impacts if you create perfect conditions for them not to happen.
It’s as if I can create a cute stable world with a cute stable family, stable home and stable finances and everything else will disappear gently like the morning fog. And, of course, many of us wish that was true but we don’t live in bubbles, do we? My rational ideas of what is or isn’t stable and my castles in the air only hold their ground until they hit someone else. Not only other people. But life itself.
I’m not making this shit up.
We are surrounded by stories of people who did everything according to a plan. But the plan turned out not to be written in blood but in watercolor. In the rain.
Remember “The Great Gatsby”? Jay built a perfect fantasy, the perfect life for his perfect woman. But by the time the fantasy was finally ready to come true, the woman was gone and her idea of perfection changed too many times to be brought back from a time so long gone.
And yes, I think our immense craving for stability is actually a product of great nostalgia. You see, back when we were kids, we never wanted things to stay the same. Same meant boring. We wanted the world to change, we wanted to try new things all the time. No tree was too high; no river was too deep. We tried and we bruised. The world was home for us.
Before the school started before we started getting bullied or became the bullies. Before the innocence was ripped off of us by diet pills, magazine covers and a certain knowledge on who’s daddy had the most expensive car. Before Mom and Dad split up. Before we started feeling the immense need to run home and hide. Before we needed to know there was that one place where we could feel safe. Before that, way before that, everything was safe. The world wasn’t out there to get us. It was out there to greet us.
In our youngest years, we already knew that things were constantly changing. But now we’re pushing thirty and we’re scared. We’re scared of time; we’re scared to lose something we worked so hard for. We dream of creating fortresses, those little spaces, where we could feel the kindness of the world all over again.
But the truth is, those places are just empty promises.
The checklist that you have to fill is just a smoke screen. Because stability comes and goes in flashes. It lives in moments. And those moments don’t depend on extrinsic factors. Because wherever you go, there you are. You will always carry yourself with you. Either in a peaceful beach in the Caribbean or on a crowded bus on Monday evening, it’s the same old you. Just the way you are. With everything you wish you weren’t and everything, you’re so happy to have become.
But those moments cannot be controlled. They may skip the perfect Thursday dinner and sneak in on you on your daily commute to work. They may come over you when you’re not ready. You might be staring at something you’ve seen so many times and feel this immense something that cannot be put in words. Safety. Purpose. Because in those moments we crave so badly, there lies something so much more precious than stability. Those moments carry gratitude. They carry peace. They carry this marvelous sense of unity with the world and a feeling that everything has a meaning. In those moments you feel important, needed and useful. Unlike stability, those things are not a myth. But they cannot be secured by a ten-year plan. They are the fruit of the constant effort and sometimes – a spontaneous event.
So yes, five minutes ago lipstick was a toy and now we’re pushing thirty. And now is an as good time as ever to actually question our ways. To think about the concept of stability, the concept of change and the concept of us, living our lives day by day in a world that really needs us to believe in its kindness. Yet, again.