to feel society is telling me I am getting old/going into decline?

(36 Posts)
Hedgebets Sat 12-Jul-14 01:49:43

I'm 30. Before you flame me, I don't think 30 is old. Nor do I think 40, 50 or 60 are old. I imagine one starts to get a bit tired around 70 - but who knows, I'm not there yet.

The problem I am having is that I feel the media and the job market are all implying that I am now in decline. And I'm wondering whether this is actually true, and if it isn't, why I feel this way.

A bit of context on these feelings:

The first 27 years of my life were not easy. I had a difficult childhood with abusive parents and left home early. I spent most of my twenties dealing with a neurological illness which meant that my days were frequently interrupted by seizures, which made it hard to hold down a job. Over the years I made deals with various bosses that I was allowed to go home and sleep when I had a seizure, as long as I made up for it by working unpaid overtime into the night. It was a very competitive area and so there was no "issue" to raise in regards to illness or unpaid overtime and what I did was considered very exceptional and unheard of. I felt that I was running, frantically to catch up, while others without the complications of illness, were walking and progressing seamlessly through their career.

By 27 I had worked so hard and had built up enough trust with various clients that I was able to work from home completely and also survive financially from that wage. It was a huge relief as I had built up so much ill health from tiredness and stress and neurological factors. Because of my decision to be a permanent sub contractor and stay off payroll, the absence from the office has meant I have not had the kind of opportunities for progression to managerial status that other people in my field have had - I get in, I do my thing, I get out. The people in my field who are my age and started the same time as me are now much much higher up than me.

When I met my DH and got married, our combined wages eased up life even further for me. The seizures reduced in correlation with my stress/tiredness levels and I am now currently 6 months pregnant with my first child. It's an absolute miracle as I was told it would be very hard for me to conceive considering the illness. I have finally got to a place where I am not just surviving, but living properly. Finally! At age 30.

The only problem now is that everywhere I look, people are telling me that this is the point I will go into gradual decline.

eg 1: My job is very IT-based. There are 16 year olds now who are growing up and entering the job market who know faster, more effective ways of doing what I do in my job. While I try to keep up with how technology is changing (with the initial issue of not working in an office I am not abreast of new developments as quickly as everyone else) and now that I will need to stop working soon and look after my baby, I have been told that if I take a year off I am going to be completely skilled out of this area by the time I would decide to return. I already had a Skype call today which took on a "winding up of business" tone after I had told the client I was pregnant last week.

eg 2: My obstetrician is constantly tut tutting about how I have left it so "late" to have a baby, and what a risk I pose to myself by being this "old" and pregnant with the illness I have. Every pregnancy symptom I have he tells me that it is the combination of my "age" and illness that is causing it. I have challenged him about this several times and he just reiterates to me each time that the majority of women he sees for pregnancy with my condition are between the ages of 19-25. If I even utter the plural "children" or the prospect of having "another" he won't even acknowledge the thought.

eg 3: the Tom Junod article in Esquire. If you haven't read it, the link is here: www.esquire.com/blogs/culture/42-year-old-women
Obviously he got a huge tidal wave of criticism about it, so I see that he is not universally agreed with, but why is he allowed to write this tosh?, And worse still, I DO know of men who have these same beliefs about women and aging. It's not just Junod! It depresses me. It is a society prejudice.

I hate that I have fought for three decades to achieve a life where I can finally have moments of feeling like everything is going to be okay, then the moment I relax, I am given the message that I am 1. unemployable after 30 2. infertile after 30 and 3. any beauty I have contains "its force in the fact of its fading."

There are so many things I haven't done. Illness and a need to survive robbed my twenties. I now want twenty years ahead of me of great sex, great success, great love, feeling desired, new skills, hidden talents, further education. I want to look and feel the best I've ever looked and felt.

Is it U to think that everywhere I look, even at age 30, society is telling me my healthiest years have passed, to accept my place in the natural order of things and to gracefully go into decline?

Cuteypatootey Sat 12-Jul-14 02:36:42

Firstly, well done on building your career despite health problems, it's very admirable. Secondly, get a new doctor. Thirdly, ignore the career naysayers. my agent told me I'd have to take a paycut because of having to leave on time to get my DD from daycare. you will find the solution that works for you, even if it is not where you expect it to be.
also realize that there is a multi billion dollar industry built upon women's insecurities to push all sorts of products. Women don't stop being beautiful after 30, 40, 50 or 60, it's ridiculous - maybe we should all start injecting poison into our faces so that we can shave a few years off (oh yes, they've thought of that already). you will get your 20 years and a beautiful baby too smile

Got married to the love of my life on my 30s. Had DD in my late 30s. Don't listen to what men have to say about women aging. Very liberating and, ironically, something that just gets better with age.

Youoryou Sat 12-Jul-14 03:31:14

You should report your obstetrician if he really is tut tutting like this. Highly unprofessional. I had a baby much older than you and there was no to tutting. Report, report, report

CheerfulYank Sat 12-Jul-14 04:51:01

It is somewhat ridiculous. I've been thinking about it a lot lately because of, of all things, a TV show. It has a woman and a man (the woman appears to be in her late 40s, the man in his mid 40s) who appear at times to be on the brink of romantic involvement. A surprising amount of people are opposed to the pairing and prefer him with AN EIGHTEEN YEAR OLD CHARACTER because the other woman is "too old".

I know it's just a TV show but it's really made me think about women and aging and how, at 32, I'm apparently over the hill to some people?!

Um, no. Fuck that. I will not be having it. I say we have at least THIRTY good years of sex and success and everything else you mentioned, if we want them.

chrome100 Sat 12-Jul-14 04:52:41

YANBU. I had a bit of a mini crisis at 30 as I felt it was the beginning of the end.

I'm 33 now and obsessed with ageing. I feel I'm on a downhill slope physically and socially and my confidence, if anything, is getting worse.

I think this is largely my fault: regardless of what society says (and rightly or wrongly it does see 30 as the "end" of youth) I do think ageing is a question of attitude and mine is the wrong one.

That said, my very good friend was killed unexpectedly in May in an accident. It has made me realise that ageing is actually a gift, and that life is short. I'm trying to re-evaluate things, be more positive about the years ahead and be grateful for them.

Chottie Sat 12-Jul-14 05:30:01

OMG - is this really a serious thread?!?

Age is just a number, you only have one life, live it and enjoy it smile

Do not be dictated to by other people.

OP smile

The Esquire article was probably published partly as a publicity stunt to promote the magazine

30 is not old for a first baby.

Regarding work, can you keep a toe in the water whilst on maternity leave? Are there any online tutorials / courses you can do to upskill?

Congratulations on your lovely baby too.

mumminio Sat 12-Jul-14 05:41:03

YABU for reading Esquire! Switch OB unless he/she compensates for such an awful attitude by brilliance in another area.

My OB told me very clearly that while people talk about fertility declining at 35, it actually declines from some time in the 20s but not significantly...the significant decline is post 37. The bigger risk of having a child later in life, in her opinion, is that the incidence of twins is much higher, which has its own complications.

OneLittleToddleTerror Sat 12-Jul-14 05:53:52

There is no way you are old. You are only 30 FFS. Look at yourself. You have achieved so much despite your illness. And now you are going to have a child. Keep looking at the positive.

1. I am in software development. So a IT related field. 30 isn't old but I do worry about late 40s and 50s. The field is incredibly young I agree. I was made redundant last year and I believe I was picked because I was a mother with a 2yo. But I had no trouble finding another job within a month. I had toe offers and another that I passed two rounds of interviews. That definitely shows late 30s are still in demand.

2. That doctor is an arse. I'm sure the latest group of mums in the UK are the 30-35s. I had my DD at 36 and am expecting my second now at the ripe old age of 39.

3. Should I even bother clicking on that link?

OneLittleToddleTerror Sat 12-Jul-14 05:58:25

And they are winding up the business because you are going to be on leave. I have a replacement for my role 3 months before my leave start. I'm in a team lead position and I don't expect I will be going back to one. My replacement isn't a contractor but another senior developer. They only have to give you a equivalent role on return. There is nothing I could do and I am glad to have a job to go back to. I will be able to catch up once I went back after leave.

Delphiniumsblue Sat 12-Jul-14 06:35:01

I would think about all the positives in your OP- there are so many that I am not going to write them down.
Age is just a number.
I was 30 when I had my first baby - but 40 when I had my last. I have never felt an older mother. So many women are older mothers these days. Two of my friends had babies aged 44yrs.
I did feel the age thing as I came up to 60 yrs so I did a running course and have done 2 half marathons.
Life is what you make it. Forget the age and the doom merchants. If you are in decline goodness only knows what I am!!

Delphiniumsblue Sat 12-Jul-14 06:36:10

I didn't click in the link- bound to be depressing- not something I need in my life.

drudgetrudy Sat 12-Jul-14 08:22:00

Flippin 'eck! If you go into decline at 30 it will be a long decline-you have lived about a third of your life and for most of that you were a child.
Most of your adult life is ahead of you-enjoy it.
You have already seen that health and happiness is not necessarily linked to age.
I hope the next chapter of your life will be easier than the first.

FunkyBoldRibena Sat 12-Jul-14 08:28:36

One piece of advice from a 46 year old. Stop reading magazines and watching TV.

Honestly, once you remove yourself from this nonsense life becomes so much easier and you get shedloads of free time to do what you want to do.

TV should be 'watch something if it's worth watching' - not a go-to activity because there is nothing else to do.

The thing about TV and magazines/newspapers - They are there to get income from advertisers and to keep readership/viewership up so that they can charge more for advertising/keep the licence fee. They are not there to do anything else.

Occasionally there are good writers, or producers/directors - most of the time it is complete tosh.

Bouttimeforwine Sat 12-Jul-14 08:42:47

I had a serious fear of getting older as I was coming up to 30. Strangely when I got there I was fine. Age is just a number. Now 50 is approaching very quickly and I don't fear it so much.

You are about to enter a new phase of life. It won't be the same, but will be worse in someways the utter exhaustion with small babies/children but will be much better in other ways. Embrace the change. You will adapt as you have to.

Stuff what other people think. Enjoy the life that you have and appreciate the good things about it.

I think the secret to happiness is being content with what you have. If you always want more, then you will never be truly happy.

I have to ask, the couple in their forties on the verge of romance, are you talking about Daryl and Carol from The Walking Dead?

Sorry, my msg was aimed at CheerfulYank

If you are in decline, I must be peering out from under my coffin lid -
but I feel life is great !
grin
I'm a 58-yr-old woman and I'm in my prime.

I've a secure job with very nice folk, lots of respect. I paid off my mortgage years ago. OK, I'm not senior management; probably you won't be either. That's not failure.

I train intensively 5-6 days per week at the gym - boxing, spin, heavy lifting, crossfit - with fit men & women in their 20s and 30s. I usually beat them all at abs, Tabata, pressups; they usually sprint faster than I can.
Forget plastic celebrities. I read about lifters and marathon-runners in their 80s and 90s. My role models !

30 is just the beginning. But ditch that rude bloody doctor.

BestIsWest Sat 12-Jul-14 09:07:27

I am in IT at 51. There is a LOT to be said for 30 years experience. You know the basics of good process don't change.

MorrisZapp Sat 12-Jul-14 09:18:52

Ok, I'm going to read that Esquire link. Be back soon, possibly enraged.

MorrisZapp Sat 12-Jul-14 09:27:14

Great article, and worth a read. Seriously. It's basically saying that in the past a 42 year old woman was considered to be completely past it in terms of desirability, but that now the boundaries of youth and beauty are moving further and further back.

So for example in The Graduate, it's a bit 'eww' when young Ben Braddock sleeps with his 42 year old neighbour. But in the modern remake it makes no sense as the 42 year old actress (Cameron Diaz) is smoking hot and any young man would fancy her.

It then goes on to list many talented, funny women aged around 42, and points out that these women are in their prime, not past it at all.

I'm 43 and it put a smile on my face, anyway smile

Proclean Sat 12-Jul-14 09:47:57

Just read it - what an intellect! :-( Love the replies though!

Latara Sat 12-Jul-14 10:53:52

I'm 37, nearly 38 and yet to be married or have children. I know, I know, time is getting on but like you I've been quite ill for the last few years - but in my 30s not my 20s.
So I haven't had chance to look around for boyfriends until now (I did have boyfriends in my 20s but sadly no-one particularly special).

Happily now I'm well I feel a lot more confident at 37 than I have ever done. I know I look more attractive and dress better than I used to. I've finally got my hair nice after losing a lot of it in 2011. I go to the gym now as well.

I dated a 46 yr old recently and he was quite patronising to me and treated me like I was really young, so do other men so I don't feel too old for men.

Jobwise I'm working as an HCA at present because I've been so ill but I'm actually a qualified Staff Nurse - I will be going back to that role soon.
I know women who didn't qualify as Staff Nurses until age 50! So you can have a professional career at any age.
At 19 I was a receptionist for a Software Consultancy - apart from 2 27 yr olds the other programmers were all aged 40s and 50s and they were very sought after.

Latara Sat 12-Jul-14 10:56:38

Also, my uncle is still a computer programme writer for BP - at age 67!

If you are good at your job you will get work at any age.

Lucyccfc Sat 12-Jul-14 11:00:32

My life really took off when I hit 35. Got married, had a child at 36, got a huge promotion at 37, another one when I was 43 and at 45 am now doing a post-grad, which I hope will lead to even better things in 2 years.

(I did swap my husband for a sports car when I was 40).

Life has never been better.

30 is not old and you are never too old to improve your life and career. Sounds like you have done an amazing job, at such a young age.

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