There comes a period in every woman's life when she must face the master of time. Where she is no longer secured by the cloak of youthful invincibility and life seems to be progressing at more a rapid pace. So, what happens when she falls so far down the rabbit hole, and the guise of youth disappears?
There is no billboard around the corner that screams "Middle age up ahead!" It comes without warning or instruction manual. In fact, you spend your youth ignoring the sands slowly descending through the hourglass and then, bam! Welcome to 30.
For most women born in the early 90's, 30 is already here or sprinting towards you. It is a time in our lives that some of us welcome with great fanfare and celebration. But in truth, for many of us, 30 feels quite scary. But why? There is an internationally recognised unspoken rule that says turning 30 signals your lunge into adulthood and all the responsibilities that go with it. These rules dictate what stage we ought to be at and exactly how we ought to be living – using 30 as the time marker.
It's pretty common to hear some women say, "I want to have this or that by age 30," readily buying into the 30-timeline concept without really placing emphasis on their unique starting line. Inevitably, some of us are pretty behind schedule and find ourselves asking “how did I get to 30 so fast?” Despite the feelings of dread and social pressure felt by some women, others welcome this new decade as a new lease on life. They see it as an opportunity to start afresh, chase new dreams and reflect on all the ways they have grown over the years. It is an opportunity to unleash newfound confidence.
Women of a certain age feel an incredible sense of anxiety when discussing age, which often sets in when we say goodbye to our 20s. Besides the obvious social narratives, a lot of women fear the inevitable body changes that greet us as we progress in age. Naturally, some bodily functions decline with age, and 30 usually triggers the onset of this reduction. For starters, you may notice subtle changes to your skin tone and skin elasticity. In some cases, the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles become more prominent. Unfortunately, there is no way to prevent this. Our skin produces less collagen and elastin as we age, making it appear dull, saggy and dry in some places. On top of that, skin cell turnover slows down, and by the time you hit 30, new cells are visible every 28-35 days, compared to 14 days or so when you were much younger.
For all the women out there who love their breasts, brace yourself; you may lose some of that perkiness. With age, a reduction in oestrogen causes your body to lose hydration, leading to a loss of elasticity. As a result, some women may also notice a change in breast size.
When we enter our 30s, our hormones are full of surprises. Research shows that women battle increased mood swings, sleep disturbances, and anxiety, in addition to lower fertility levels. These hormonal changes are sometimes so severe that women face depression and interruptions to their personal lives. Studies have found that women in their 30s and 40s are more likely to experience depression in higher proportions than other age groups.
In our late 20s we experience bone production peaks. However, once we move into the next phase of our lives, we gradually start to reduce our bone mass, which places us at a higher risk for developing osteoporosis and a host of musculoskeletal challenges related to same.
Regrettably, research into the fountain of youth is still in its infancy stages, so until then, we all must face the natural progression of life.
So, what then are our options? Our actions now impact the quality of life we'll enjoy later, so now, rather than later, is the time to stay on top of our lifestyle choices. Maintaining a healthy weight through diet and exercise, establishing a proper sleep routine and prioritising mental health and wellbeing would allow us to lead better lives in the years ahead. Creating a work-life balance is also crucial at this stage, and it is essential to start thinking about early screening and testing.
There is so much beauty and honour in growing older. If we ignore the social narrative set for us by society and instead focus on living our lives in the best way possible, then maybe age would truly be just a number.