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Folasade Owoeye: This is 30

Folasade Owoeye

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That bittersweet feeling of leaving your 20s behind.

I had mentally braced myself for turning 30. I was glad to be alive and there was a lot to be thankful for. My closest friends from high school were mostly ’87 kids, so we took turns in turning 30. I would call them and tease them about growing old and they kindly reminded me that mine was a few months away as well. Facebook and Instagram were awash with pictures from photo shoots that could give Beyoncé a run for her money. There were glamorous birthday parties and lavish birthday themed vacations.

The reactions were different. My friend Funmi, cried herself sore the morning she turned 30. Nne, who turned 30 a month ahead of me, was overwhelmed with gratitude for how far she had come.

My friend Coco, also cried on the morning of her birthday. Now, my friend Coco is weird; she always referred to herself as a 30-year-old while we were 28. I guess that was her own way of keeping the 30s blues from creeping up on her. Obviously that didn’t work.

My friend Oyin, was pretty excited about turning 30. She had planned a photo shoot with hair and makeup, complete with the ubiquitous golden 30 balloons.

As for me…. I was initially excited, or at least, that’s what I told myself. I goaded myself into thinking of having a photo shoot, hosting an intimate dinner for a few friends, or even visiting my favorite home for disabled people. However, as I entered my birthday month, things got weird and I got confused with my own emotions.

Where is all this moodiness coming from?

Why am I remembering my father’s death at the most random times? I recall having to hold back tears during a client meeting because one of the client’s staff reminded me of my dad.

Where is my husband? And the twin boys I planned to have by the time I turned 30?

Why didn’t that relationship work with Mr. T? Why did I ever get involved with Mr. M? Perhaps I should never have broken up with Mr. A. We could have been married with two kids by now.

What the heck is going on with my weight? Oh well, I probably know what is going on with my weight.

What the heck am I doing with my life? Oh God! I should have written a book by now. I should have started a youth ministry, perhaps I should have a thriving business under my belt by now.

For the love of God, why are my eyes leaking water at random times?

It was a rollercoaster of emotions. I easily discarded the party plans and all other shenanigans I had planned.

Then finally, the day came.

I might have cried a bit the night before. Honestly, I don’t recall. I woke up that morning in super high spirits and an overwhelming sense of gratitude to God for every single aspect of my existence. It was a workday, so I put on my birthday dress and headed to work with an extra spring in my step.

Honestly, it was a beautiful day. I got more cakes on my 30th birthday than all my other birthdays put together (yep!) and some were anonymous *wink*. I also got to hang out with my closest friends at a nearby karaoke bar after work. It was a lovely birthday after all.

The outpour of love reassured me that “my character was good in the market” (a Yoruba saying). It did feel good to be appreciated either through words, physical gifts and the gift of presence.

It’s over two months since I turned 30 and I would like to think that nothing has changed. My hair suddenly didn’t turn grey and wrinkles weren’t mysteriously etched over my face overnight. My weight also has been kind, depending on what I have been feeding myself with. But the changes are there. A heightened sense of self-awareness was creeping up on me and it began to challenge my status-quo. I will share some of these changes:

Divine impatience
Oxymoron right? I know, but that’s how best I can describe this. I realize that I am beginning to lose patience with a lot of things that I feel aren’t consequential or relevant to my personal development or tasks that are completely outside my responsibilities. While this isn’t necessarily always a good thing, I realized that this helps me cut out a lot or irrelevant or non-value adding activities from my daily routine. I am just a lot more conscious of how I am spending my time.

I’m really starting to care less what others think of me
Honestly, this is so liberating. And no! I don’t mean living without taking responsibilities for your actions or lack of respect for others. It’s just that I don’t have that annoying need to have people like me or the need to please everyone to my own detriment. I just can’t be bothered anymore and I have realized that I am more truthful in my communication to people.

My weaknesses are now being magnified
Who knew that failure to develop a habit of laying your bed every morning as a child could lead to sociopathic tendencies in adulthood…? Ok, I am just kidding. But, over time I realized that my weaknesses were slowly catching up with me. Those “harmless” habits and indulgences which I permitted in the past are slowly becoming full-blown character flaws that I need to fix. It gets worse as I grow older unless I take conscious responsibility for tackling them. I can’t go into details… My boss reads BellaNaija and performance appraisal is around the corner.

I am more aware of my own mortality
The thought that life is so fickle and fleeting dawns on me more often now. In a fateful coincidence, two of my high school mates died shortly after turning 30. It got me thinking about how important it is to focus on what really matters: “why am I in this world?”, “who is thanking God for my existence?”

I find myself challenging my purpose in life and what impact and legacy I am going to leave behind.

I genuinely value my friends and family more
Riding on the point above, I seem to have developed a better appreciation for my friends (like real, close friends) and family. Having lost my best friend to cancer last year, I realize that every moment to show love to your loved ones counts. In the same vein, I have lost patience for those “I’m not sure we are friends, but let’s smile and pretend” friends.

The older I get, the kinder and more brutally honest I am with myself
I am suddenly an expert at berating myself for my mistakes and also putting them behind me as soon as I can. Biko, “I can’t come and go and die.”

One big lesson turning 30 taught me is this: success and personal achievements are based on perspectives. I recall sharing my trepidations about getting older with my close friend and she was quick to dismiss my concerns, listing my career accomplishments to me. I also recall that my sister, who had a great job at a multinational IT firm, an amazing daughter and a doting husband as at the time she turned 30, still cried when she turned 30.

If I attempt to dig to the root of the ill feelings at turning 30 for most people (women mostly, I don’t know if you men feel that way too), I guess it has to do with some deep-seated feeling of personal dissatisfaction with oneself, or a perceived loss of youthfulness, or perhaps we have been socially programmed to bookmark the age 30 as a reference point for us (and others) to assess our personal achievements. But the great news is that that is exactly what it is: a bookmark and not a destination!

Reflect, evaluate, amend and move on.
So guys how was your 30th and for those approaching 30, how are y’all doing?

40 Comments

  1. Debola

    December 7, 2017 at 2:24 pm

    Hello Folasade

    Lol @ your boss reads BellaNaija…

    I can totally relate to your post as I turned 30, 2 weeks ago. I had been literally counting down since last year. Had the all photoshoot and party plans. Then as the day drew near, I was swinging between “depression”/ moodiness and joy!! Between thinking I am not where I planned to be at 30, no husband and lol, those twins are not yet here and all. Finally let go and decided to enjoy the moment. Getting down on my knees at past 12 that morning, crying and thanking God for how far He has brought me – like I legit always wondered why and how people cry when praying and all…

    Days after, I am just back to living life and taking the days a step at a time. Now I think mentally the clock is ticking re doing the things I had planned for my life and I am being more deliberate and intentional about achieving them.

    40 will come and it will be a blast…

    • Folasade Owoeye

      Fola Owoeye

      December 7, 2017 at 9:22 pm

      Thanks a lot Debola. In retrospect I look back and think, what was worrying me self!

    • Fola

      December 8, 2017 at 9:09 am

      If feels great to know that you could relate with this post. Honestly I look back and I wonder where all the funny emotions came from. Life is for the living and cheers to 40!

  2. Ifeoluwa

    December 7, 2017 at 3:18 pm

    Whoop whoop. You are doing an absolute fantastic job at thirty. You inspire people like me to be better versions of themselves especially at work (diligence at crunching numbers), religion (dedicated Christian – weekly services you attend despite an intense schedule) and of course your appearance – slayage at all times. You are sweet, genuine and a breath of fresh air.

    • Fola

      December 8, 2017 at 9:10 am

      Wait first…. is this my runaway Ife ? . Thanks for the kind words darling.

  3. Blessedheart

    December 7, 2017 at 3:29 pm

    I’m not even 30 yet and I can relate so well with this, probably because most of my friends are already 30. It’s particularly difficult for me because I ‘started’ relatively early in terms of career but I’m not where I envisioned myself to be at this time. All the same, I have to keep reminding myself to count my blessings. . . and I do have lots to be grateful for.

    • Folasade Owoeye

      Fola Owoeye

      December 7, 2017 at 9:23 pm

      Thanks Blessing ma boo :).
      You are going to smash 30 and be happy doing it!

    • Fola

      December 8, 2017 at 9:11 am

      Blessing ma boo! You’re gonna smash 30 and be happy doing it. Your best lies ahead.

  4. Bolaji O

    December 7, 2017 at 3:34 pm

    I can’t stop awwing at this post. I’m 33 and this just brings back memories of my 30th except that I was married but still trying to conceive. Really the day will pass and you will just realize that life is for the living and it is what you make out of it. Thanks for this !

  5. emeka

    December 7, 2017 at 3:44 pm

    I still have 3 more years before i turn 30 but already am feeling bad that am almost entering my late 20’s and still about to achieve half of what i planned or envisioned my life would be after undergraduate and masters school. Plus pressure from popsi especially to settle down and marry as an only son forgetting that man also has his own plans for his life before finally getting married. Omo the journey is not easy at all. Nowadays i fear even whenever my birthday is approaching and etc. But all the same Thank God for life and the journey so far. Maybe before i finally hit the almighty 30, I will finally be married to my mrs by Gods grace.

  6. Kemi

    December 7, 2017 at 4:02 pm

    This is so relate able. I’ve cried every birthday for the past 3 years and I’m not 30 yet. Like you said Birthdays really are a reference point for us to access our personal achievements. The most important thing is to remember “bookmark and not the destination”. Aptly put. X

  7. Oyin

    December 7, 2017 at 4:23 pm

    Babe! You literally spoke my heart and mind in this piece. Amazing writeup darling. By the way, I also planned to visit an orphanage home and have a lovely dinner with friends o. Lol!!! None of that happened. But I was still so grateful. Almost like your friend Coco I’d also been looking forward to my 30th for at least the last 4/5 years. Weird I know.

    Asides all you’ve stated which I totally relate with, for me one funny thing I’ve noticed is that nowadays people (naija) just naturally refer to me as “madam” or “mummy” or “aunty”. It was shocking initially because apart from the fact that there’s no husband or children just yet, to me I don’t even look that different from 5 years ago. Same small stature, same weight sef. As minor as that is, it kinda makes me now more conscious of how I act and relate with people in society. I find myself being a bit more patient and forgiving.

    Cheers to our 30s jare! God is good, let’s live this life and make Him proud.

    • Fola

      December 8, 2017 at 10:19 am

      Aww Oyin. Thanks for sharing. Wait first… are your the Oyin in this post or another ?

  8. lufunke

    December 7, 2017 at 4:32 pm

    Aaaw. Beautiful piece Fola! More grease to you elbow

  9. Shakarababe

    December 7, 2017 at 5:01 pm

    Awesome article. Turning thirty means less time and patience for nonsense.

  10. Yellow sun

    December 7, 2017 at 5:03 pm

    Hello fellow 87 baby here ???…i don’t think I felt moody..i was even pained that my beach party couldn’t take place..but I had friends over.. for chops and drinks…truly nothing changed….yes it happens to men aswell..i recall my husband then boyfriend was soo moody he ruined he’s own day just because he felt he hadn’t achieved much at 30…
    Too much ado about the age jare…
    31 soon come ?

    • Folasade Owoeye

      Fola Owoeye

      December 7, 2017 at 9:27 pm

      I don’t know why but I laughed really hard @ hubby. The day just passes by and you remember that work continues! But I concur that it is a good checkpoint for self evaluation minus all the moodiness.

    • Fola

      December 8, 2017 at 9:13 am

      e-hi five to you. I agree with you on that much ado about 30. The day passes and you realize that your reports aren’t going to write themselves. So back to life.

  11. Rolls eyes

    December 7, 2017 at 5:07 pm

    Okay oh, the cliche though.

    I felt like this at 25 though, the feeling of unaccomplishment.

    However, I look forward to 30 jare cos I know, is be in a good place

  12. Cozygal

    December 7, 2017 at 6:05 pm

    I enjoyed reading your article Fola. I guess at 20, we are so young we don’t consider most things. While at 30, we are more mature and make proper evaluations of the life we’ve lived. I can relate to everything you’ve written and I’ll be thirty next year. Up until 2016, I have handled most of my ideas and goals lightly; being too careful and generally afraid. I don’t know what got tripped on, but I’m glad it did. I’ve been working towards the life I was made for with more consciousness. I’ve been pumped to ensure that when 30 comes, not only am I proud of myself, but that I am also fearlessly living in purpose.

    • Folasade Owoeye

      Fola Owoeye

      December 7, 2017 at 9:24 pm

      Thanks Cozygal, Here’s to living fearlessly!

  13. Anon

    December 7, 2017 at 6:23 pm

    Going on 32. I absolutely love my 30s more than my 20s. I am finally getting to really know me. I am less afraid and think less about what people say and societal expectations. Also got divorced in my 30s. I am more goal oriented. I am even more determined not to settle for less than I deserve in every aspect of my life. I am happier, more fulfilled as I reach my daily goals. There are way less distractions. Man, marriage are the last things on my mind but when they come, I will be grateful nonetheless, as I already feel complete without those elements. Learn learn from the mistakes of your 20s. Things will get clearer now as you look back at your 20s and your journey thus far. You will realise how much you have grown and how much you still have to grow. Enjoy. One day, we will have the conversation about how your libido suddenly goes over the roof when you hit 30. Not sure if It is due to being more aware of your body and what works for you. But damnnnnnnnnn!

  14. Bibie

    December 7, 2017 at 6:30 pm

    I agree with you. I turned 30 last week and after all the noise I barely did anything but im grateful. And I won’t mourn the loss of youthfulness but embrace the grace of age

  15. Coco

    December 7, 2017 at 9:02 pm

    Nice article Sade. I had started prepping myself for the big 3-0 before I reached that age but it still didn’t take away the feeling.
    As i looked back at my life, I felt as though I had not achieved as much as I initially planned to achieve before 30.
    In all things though I am extremely grateful to God and if not for anything else, this age has spurred a new zeal within me to make the most of my life while I’m still on earth and make as much impact as I possibly can.

  16. Doxa

    December 7, 2017 at 10:57 pm

    I turned 30 in October.
    I used to be a birthday freak, i cherished birthdays more than even Christmas. I used to count down to my birthday, reminding everyone I knew that my birthday was approaching, eventhough I rarely celebrate it.
    My last birthday celebration was 8 years ago in my final year in uni and it was just a cake, drinks and photos with a few friends and roomies. Before that, it was in my SS3.
    When I made a new friend, one of the first things I wanted to know was your birthday.
    But not this year.
    Last year my husband pulled a stunt that made me mad (pretending to forget my birthday). Omo! I went ganster on him. How dare he?
    So this year, in order to protect this ‘fragile’ heart of mine and ‘manage expectations’ I decided to let the day go unceremoniously. It took me ALL of my will power not to mention it to anyone.
    The day came. I quietly climbed out of bed to get my husband’s breakfast and lunch ready (good African wife that I am #winks# just kidding, I was on leave and didn’t need to rush off to work).
    You can’t even comprehend the depth of my joy when he came out of the bedroom, saw me and started singing “Happy birthday to you…” Ahhh! I didn’t need another gift (this is proof that sometimes it is good to go gangster on ‘oga’ once in a while).
    He out did himself sha. He closed early from work and bought me a gadget that I’d been wanting for a long time.

    This year, like every other year, I was greatful for life.
    I remembered that I still have not attained ACA status, nor have I gotten that mega bucks job, neither can I even be considered a high-flyer at work right now.
    But as I breasfed my 2 month old daughter, talked with my mum who was around for ‘omugwo’ and awaited the return of my darling husband, I knew that I had absolutely no reason to complain.
    ACA will come, so would the mega bucks and increased productivity at work as well as every other thing that the Lord has planned for me.
    Gratitude dwells here and contentment holds this house.
    PS: I can’t believe Coco cried.

    • Fola

      December 8, 2017 at 10:22 am

      ????
      Thanks for sharing Doxa and yes! Every good thing will come.

  17. Wunmi

    December 8, 2017 at 7:55 am

    Well articulated write-up I must say Sade.

    I look forward to your published books which we will celebrate at 35 and many more at 40.

    Being 30+, I can totally relate. I have grown into a more confident woman, more purposeful and intentional about everything. No purpose, no value, scrap it! I value every single moment of my life. Most importantly, I am learning to take care of me, enjoy this life while still being a blessing to others cause that how God wants it.

    Moreover, when God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work–this is a gift of God (Ecclesiastes 5:19).

    • Fola

      December 8, 2017 at 9:13 am

      Amen. Thank you Wunmi!

  18. KingsQueen

    December 8, 2017 at 11:33 am

    Ah! The BIG 30… i was prepping for a really important career defining exam when i turned 30, so no time to reflect, party or be moody since the papers were the next day. If i cld go back i probably would have partied hard, cause i still failed that exam, lol

    But i definitely can relate to what you said, the whole not caring much about peoples opinions happened for me in my early 20s, and i kept thinking i should have achieved some big feat before turning 30 all the while ignoring all other things i had aced without realising it.

    Like they say everything in strides. These days i’m taking my health more seriously, working hard on achieving financial stability and learning to enjoy life little pleasures and i’d advise same to everyone.

  19. Sisi

    December 8, 2017 at 12:20 pm

    I am not 30 just yet but those points you raise – my self awareness is on a next level the last few years. My impatience ever waning and still battling those bad habits. Maybe by the time I hit 30 all will be perfect, more than likely all won’t. Either I will be grateful and have the biggest celebration of my adult life. Can’t wait. Actually I can, I need more time……,the irony of it all

    • Fola

      December 8, 2017 at 12:43 pm

      As long as you are aware of the changes you need in your life and you actively work at it. You will be fine.
      Nne there is no rush to get older oh……

  20. Truth

    December 8, 2017 at 3:14 pm

    Response to Anon: I feel like I actually wrote your comment because this has been my life thus far, though am not 30 yet but I can completely relate to your whole post, the divorce, the libido drive and just been grateful to be here and taking life one day at a time.

    • Fola

      December 9, 2017 at 7:46 am

      Hmm I wanted to write on that libido bit but liver failed me. All I will say is that “it is well”. ?

  21. Lopez

    December 8, 2017 at 6:00 pm

    I went to Disneyland for my thirtieth and had a blast. When I turned 31 & 32, I traveled to Vegas and Amsterdam. I plan on going to Hong Kong for my 33rd. I just always see a new age as something to look forward to; life can only get better. I’m still unmarried by the way and it’s so easy to worry and compare yourself to other people esp here in Nigeria. But I was lucky to snap out of whatever hangups I had in my 20’s and since then, I’ve become a better person. It’s when you’re busy living your life and being happy with yourself that good things happen to you, trust me. Since I personally decided to be the happiest version of myself, I got headhunted into a fantastic job opportunity, met a great guy who’s now my fiance and became a God-mother three times. Just do you and everything you desire will follow when it’s meant to.

    • Fola

      December 9, 2017 at 7:45 am

      “Just do what you are meant to do and every thing will fall in place” …… I’m taking that away with me and have an amazing 31st in advance.

  22. Olami

    December 8, 2017 at 8:23 pm

    The 30s, a sense of self awareness.Though I am not yet where I want to be, but still eternally grateful for where I am. I have cried out my eyes during my 20s, being so emotional and detached. I have been taken advantage of most times due to my simple nature but I have also learnt to fight back.

  23. aj

    December 9, 2017 at 3:14 am

    Ah! the dirty thirties! I’m not in my thirties yet but I am totally looking forward to it even though there is so much I want to achieve before then. First of completing my degree in information technology management.

    • Fola

      December 9, 2017 at 7:42 am

      Best of luck with your degree AJ. Why do they call it dirty thirty though…..

  24. The real dee

    December 9, 2017 at 9:36 am

    I still have 3 more years to clock 30 but I’ve had some of these feelings every year since I clocked 23. Sometimes I feel like life happened too fast to me, I just passed my mid 20s but i’ve lived faster than my age and my maturity transcends my real age. Graduated a 5 year course at 20, Masters 23, Marriage 24, Motherhood 26. Now, I’ve reached that point where things have slowed down and i’ve had time to re-evaluate my life. All these years, my parents have put pressure on me and i’ve mounted even much more pressure on myself that I never considered anything i’ve accomplished an achievement. Perhaps, it’s the fact that i’m self-effacing or I just don’t know how to appreciate my self and recognize my accomplishments.

    I already weaned myself off the ‘pretend as if we’re friends and smile’ friends, i’ve started two can play that game with them….lol. I know who my real friends are now. I’m learning to be more assertive and firm, not cowering to other people’s opinions.

    So, at 30, I feel like the real life I’m meant to live without all the pressure, will begin. The real me will blossom and I’ll start to manifest my purpose. 30 will be the finale of my 20’s season film and the beginning of a more targeted spin off.

    BTW, who has splendid 30th birthday ideas for husbands, apart from an outing to a restaurant.

  25. 7uncensored

    December 9, 2017 at 3:39 pm

    Hey DOXA,

    you are too me…..
    I love my birthday too much, i do photoshoots and all of the good stuffs.
    I was slightly worried when i clocked 25 in october but hey! i am the best girl ever!!!

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