In light of new year's resolutions, should we give in to milestone pressures according to our age?

A young women celebrates her birthday with friends
A young women celebrates her birthday with friends

*Dramatic rewind and pause* 

Woah, wait. Breathe. You don't have to do it all by 30. Or even by 25 for that matter. 

In the same (deep breath), though - don't rest on your laurels too much if you have set to achieve big things this year.

Many have vocalised what they wish to achieve this year - move out of their parents' house, graduate, find a job, save more money, travel abroad, buy a car, or find love.  

Everyone's goals are personal, different, and inspired by an array of incentives. So with hardly 14 days crossed off 2019's calendar, we shouldn't be too hard on ourselves already. I say this because I see the #NoSleep gang has already started their road to burnout campaign. 

Please sleep sometimes. 

Sleep and high-pressure goal chasing aside, there's a particular faction of new year resolution setting that I think we need to talk about here. The kind you suddenly take on because the clock, the calendar, and your birth certificate dictate that it's time. 

That age angst that has you feeling like someone is going to shout "TIME!" on your 30th birthday like we so eagerly do during a game of 30 Seconds. 

READ MORE: This is why your goals don’t have an expiry date

Enter milestones associated with age:

"By 25 you should have three degrees, a full-time job, a small sedan vehicle, your own apartment, a steady relationship, and a pet you're co-parenting with your partner."

"By 30 you should be in a senior position at work, be on car number two, traveled to Europe, South America, heaven and back, married or engaged, and own a business." 

Well excuse me, while I go back-date my ID on the black market.

I'm kidding. I don't subscribe to milestone pressures. Well at least not anymore. 

However, I do find myself toying with (read: genuinely considering) the idea of dating this year because of my age. With my 10-year high school reunion happening this year (which I may or may not attend) and maybe 60 percent of the people I matriculated with married, engaged or expecting, I feel like I might be lacking in the romance department... still... 10 years later. 

I am by no means comparing myself, but it's an interesting observation that I have made. Conversely, it's a thought that leads to the interrogation of age expectations we not only place on ourselves, but on others too. Even subconsciously so.

For example, earlier this week, Twitter was abuzz over local TV personality Dineo Moeketsi's seven-year anniversary celebration with rapper Solo.

Many might have been thinking, "so when are they tying the knot?" but when one Twitter user thought out loud and actually sent a response to the rapper's tweet, Dineo addressed her:

Too harsh or a necessary reminder? 

I'll leave it up to you. Either way, it's one way to spark a bit of introspection about why we attach age or "number of years in the game" to achievements and certain milestones. 

Of course, we can't negate the fact that internalised social conditioning is a major catalyst in trying to do it all. You know, the disguised electric fence and 1.4 kids narrative. (We live in SA and it's expensive to put children through a school that won't divide them up by race)

READ MORE: Tracee Ellis Ross happy to be ‘single and childless’ at 45

I came across a very insightful Buzzfeed News think piece titled "How millennials became the burnout generation" and it delves into exactly how we got here.

The 38-year-old writer, Anne Helen Peterson, first muses on our generation's condition of procrastination, especially with regards to mundane tasks and then she draws the parallels between older generations and us:

"Financially speaking, most of us lag far behind where our parents were when they were our age," Anne highlights. 

"When my class left our liberal arts experience, we scattered to temporary gigs: I worked at a dude ranch; another friend nannied for the summer; one got a job on a farm in New Zealand; others became raft guides and transitioned to ski instructors. We didn’t think our first job was important; it was just a job and would eventually, meanderingly lead to The Job," she later notes. 

We're infamous for being the 20-something's who want The Job now. And there's nothing wrong with being ambitious, but it's also cool to trust the process too.

After all, Oprah wasn't Oprah until she was 32. Taraji P. Henson only got her breakout role at 31. And phenomenal Jullliard alumnus actress, Viola Davis, only won her first Oscar in 2017 after being nominated twice before. 

As this thread so aptly encourages and inspires:

And when life comparisons creep up on you...

Just in case you need more reassurance that age is nothing but a number and things will work out, Dr Sindi's thread is the pick-me-up to reach for.

So to echo Nayyirah Waheed's words, "every once in a while, take your life off and rest." It's a five-year plan, not a five-minute plan after all.

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