In my twenties, I thought it was best to stick to one career in order to be financially secure. That’s what my parents did, and it worked well for them. I believed it would be too risky to follow my heart and pursue a career doing something I loved.
In my twenties, I thought it was best to get married and have kids before I turned thirty.
Yes, I did marry and have a child before I was thirty and I’m glad I did.
My upbringing had programmed me to believe there was only one pathway to lead a meaningful life: To become successful, I needed to get a degree from Uni, gain a secure job, buy a house, marry and have children.
I am grateful to have achieved all of that while still in my twenties.
At the same time, however, I didn’t allow myself to stay true to who I am, or to do what I love doing. I stayed with what I thought was expected of me and put other people’s needs before my own, always.
Now, in my thirties, I understand that life is full of options.
I know that I don’t need to stick to one career; there is the option of doing what you love passionately and still have financial security. (I have managed to stick to one husband though, but trust me, we’ve been working really hard to achieve this.)
I have come to understand that I must set boundaries to balance what I need and what other people need of me. In fact, I’m still learning to put myself first when making important decisions and to make sure I stay true to who I am.
But importantly, in my thirties, I have learned to enjoy the ordinary moments, rather than only appreciating the extraordinary achievements.
It’s a wonderful feeling to see my elder daughter skip joyfully to school on her first day back; to see the younger one laugh really hard at her sister’s antics; to talk nonsense with my husband; to enjoy a nice meal cooked by my mum; to see one of my students smile appreciatively after getting a new concept; to receive a card, handmade with love, from a close friend; to give and receive a hug, and to accept help from friends and colleagues.
I’ve realised that for everyone, life is full of options; your job is to stay true to who you are, what you love and to make courageous choices.