As a child born in 1993, I’m turning 30 this year, and so are my peers. We’re not kids anymore. With the dawn of this new decade in our lives, we pause and ponder. But as a woman, I find myself growing increasingly reluctant to discuss my age. I face an existential crisis when I’m alone, asking myself: Have I passed my prime? Have I missed the bus? Have I made it in life?
When Malaysian actress Michelle Yeoh recently won the Oscar for Best Actress for “Everything Everywhere All At Once” at the age of 60, she declared: “Do not let anyone tell you that you are past your prime.” But, sometimes, the hardest conversation to have is the one we have with ourselves.
Whether it’s a young man casually calling me “aunty” in the elevator, my chachi reminding me that my “market value” in the matrimonial world is dwindling, the mirror revealing my graying hair, or the unforeseen changes in my body, I’m confronting everything I never saw coming. As I age, the irony also lies in wanting a life partner while being scarred by life and struggling to trust.
While men are celebrated for their experience and wisdom as they age, women are often deemed past their prime. Women have historically been valued for their beauty and fertility, whereas men have been admired for their experience and wisdom.
I am not alone, even Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, the founder and chairperson of Biocon Limited, has spoken about facing ageism and sexism during her career. Actors Madhuri Dixit and Neena Gupta have also faced the brunt of being “old”, while actors of their age are happily romancing the 20-year-old heroines.
There’s a silver lining to aging as well. As I grow older, I gain the confidence I never had before. I find the courage to assert myself, both in business meetings and in my bedroom. I have clarity about what I want. I am more empathetic as I know how hard life can be.
Aging is a blessing in disguise. I wouldn’t want to be 20 again, as the experiences I have at 30 could never be replicated in my younger years. So the next time, someone asks me my age, I’m going to proudly say 30 or 40 or 60–because not everyone is blessed enough to be alive to experience all the magic that happens when we grow up.
Okay, now let’s cut the cake and eat it too 🙂
Janvi Sonaiya is a journalist based in Gujarat. She writes on taxation, politics and social issues.