Turning 30

Photo credit: Shutterstock

What you need to know:

  • There is hardly a 20-something-year-old who does not begin their 20s with a vision of how their life will look like when they turn 30


  • By that age, one is expected to fulfil so many narratives placed by society about where and who you should be 

While age is but a number, for most people, turning 30 feels different. Besides being a confirmation that you’ve traversed the earth for three decades, it is also the ideal time when a person’s life trajectory is properly weighed and judged by society – at least that’s how it feels.

This week, we asked four people to talk about the grand targets they had set for themselves, the ways in which reality has forced them to adjust those goals and lastly, to share their fears as they approach this “big” milestone. 

Photo credit: Pool

Kevin Omolo, 25
Public Relations Practitioner

It is not a much talked about fact, but age 30 comes with a lot of responsibilities and that’s why it feels so scary. The pressure to start a family intensifies tenfold. One is also expected to be financially stable and to be on track to achieving most of their childhood dreams and goals. It is an age where you are expected to be fully independent and have the ability to make difficult life choices. All this makes me fear that milestone. But, it is just five years away for me! I know time may go by so fast, but I feel I still have a lot of time. 

At my age I ought to have done a Master’s degree or be in the process of completing it, but I haven’t done so due to financial challenges. Additionally, the society expects me to have settled down in marriage right after university, but that didn’t happen. I have since readjusted my timelines. Now, I hope to complete my Master’s degree, have a few businesses up and running, and be in a stable relationship leading to marriage by age 30. 

I feel I have done so much compared to my peers, and even better than some of the people I initially thought were moving ahead of me. I have accomplished quite a number of milestones. I successfully completed the 8.4.4 system of education, I have a job and I can comfortably pay my bills. 

Reaching 30 before starting a family or being in stable relationship might lead society to judge me harshly, I know. I don’t even want to imagine what it will be like if I get there without having achieved other acceptable targets such as being financially liberated. Initially, I intended to have either started or even completed my second degree in law by that time, on top of the Master’s degree. That said, I am not in a hurry to start a family. I know that when time is right, I will marry. 

I now know that the choices one makes at a young age influence the trajectory of their life. For example, growing up along the shores of Lake Victoria, it was easy to drop out of school and pursue fishing to get quick money, but I constantly fought the urge to do so. I opted to continue with my studies. 

Photo credit: Pool

Moses Oketch, 25
ACTUARY

I plan to mark my 30th birthday by planting my 1000th tree in my village. This is my little action that I believe will go a long way in combating climate change. And, if God hears my prayers, that day will also be my wedding day. 

I am just four years shy of 30 and that fact sometimes feels scary because I don’t yet have everything figured out – financially, emotionally, and socially. That uncertainty, the feeling that things might not go as I have planned, is debilitating. But, life is unpredictable. That is its nature. 

At my age, I'm proud of myself for having grown so much. I see things differently compared to five years ago. I believe I am wiser, bolder and more focused. Even so, I am planning to start a family because age 30 seems to be the standard and perfect age for marriage. I hope to have built a home, started a family and be the owner of assets such as cattle and land. Those are my top priorities. 

Being the good planner that I am, I know that I should have invested in stocks exchange such as the NSE to achieve financial stability by this age. I am also a political enthusiast, and as most people are engrossed in the 2022 succession battle, I find myself thinking of a Kenya beyond Raila Odinga and William Ruto. In my view, the year 2037 might be the turning point for Kenya. 

At 30, I am expected to have a built a house back in the village, but I am yet to do so. Other than this, I want to have graduated with a Master’s degree in a course I am yet to decide. Additionally, I should be in a position to create jobs and influence the society on financial matters. 

I hate to admit it but yes, I feel under especially on the issue of marriage. Most of my friends are getting married, others are engaged, others are in serious relationships while I am still trying to figure out my career and trying to put my house in order. I also feel the pressure to 'make it,' especially when I see my friends purchasing their first cars and homes. 

Birthdays can change one’s life. It is around that time every year that you realise you are not a teenager anymore, you are a young adult and you should move out of your parents’ house and get a place of your own. And, you should be able to pay your bills and manage your finances. 

In this world that only recognises the best in any field, one has to be kind to themselves and others, patient, persistent and consistent. They shouldn’t give up on their goals and they should build social connections with people who matter because no man is an island. 

At my age, one of the most important lessons I have picked is that life has no formula. Also, patience pays. I have learnt to set goals and work towards them by having a specific but flexible timeline. I strive to be consistent, disciplined and focused and to learn from my mistakes. Above all, I have learnt to involve God in all my plans.

Photo credit: Pool

Pacific Wambura, 26
entrepreneur

I have always enjoyed photography and videography and I recently took a big leap and started my own business offering these services. This was after volunteering in an institution for three years after I graduated with a Bachelor's degree in communication and media. I volunteered there with hopes of getting employment, but that never happened so I decided to venture out on my own. 

I wouldn’t say I am scared of growing older each year because all the struggles, triumphs and lessons keep me moving and developing. However, it is true that the opinion and expectations of people close to you can scare you. As a young person, it gets to a point where you feel desperate for growth especially when you see your friends achieving different milestones such as getting stable jobs, getting into healthy relationships and even marriage. It is easy to envy them and beat yourself up for not moving at the same pace.

In my case, before I started my business, I was constantly worried that I might turn 30 before achieving any of my goals. Almost all my friends had stable jobs and were in good relationships yet I had neither. I couldn’t help but constantly compare myself with them and admonish myself every year for not achieving what they have yet we are age mates. 

I believe a majority of us set resolutions every New Year and I am no exception. Every year, I list my plans for the year and identify three that must be achieved come rain or shine. Birthdays for me were never a big thing until I completed my undergraduate studies. That is when it hit me that I needed to grow every day. Since then, every passing day comes with a constant reminder that I need to make steps forward. 

This is what motivated me to get into volunteer work as I waited to get employed. Volunteering allowed me to make steps forward, albeit small ones. It was better than staying at home doing nothing. Even though I didn’t get employed, I made an effort to learn so much, and I believe the lessons will be helpful to me in future. 

Now, with my business, I see myself achieving the goals I had set this year. The business is also keeping me motivated and has given me a reason to keep going. I am now convinced that we are all not meant to be employed. Though small, the business is growing steadily and that makes me so proud. Every day I devote my time to making it bigger and better. 

Aside from pressuring yourself, society can be unforgiving as you grow older. There are things you are expected to have achieved by a certain age, things like further education and marriage. Lucky for me, many people in my family are not in a rush to achieve such but I know I'll be judged harshly if I am not married by a certain age.

As I near age 30, with every passing day, I am learning that through our actions, we add and subtract to our plans. I can proudly say that I tried. I might not have achieved the expected results, but I tried. That is what matters for me as I have picked lessons that will make my future better.

Photo credit: Pool


Ben Ombura, 26
news producer

Looking at the life I have lived so far, I feel like I have done the best I could. I hate regrets and as much as I am always trying to eliminate opportunities for regret in my life, there are certain things I do regret. There are things I wanted to do differently, but I don’t have the chance or choice. I believe you can’t achieve everything at a go. However, I am proud of myself even as I challenge myself to do more. 

I wouldn’t say I have achieved much. My greatest achievement so far is that I completed my undergraduate studies with a degree in information science. As I approach 30, I plan to start my own family, set up a business, get a stable job and understand myself better – physically and mentally. I want to be at peace with myself all the time and I believe that is something everyone should aim to achieve by age 30. 

When it comes to that most feared age, I have my fears. First, that age comes with a lot of responsibilities and ambitions. You want to have investments that you can rely on and show for your 30 years on earth. There is also the need to start your own family. At 30, I believe you need to have a partner, in my case a wife, and that means being a dad soon after and taking care of bills as the head of the family. 

Another responsibility that I foresee is taking care of my relatives and friends. According to statistics, majority of Kenyans are unemployed and they depend on those who are employed, so it won’t just be about me. I’ll have to give back to the society that raised me. As I approach 30, I see a need to understand myself fully and have a clear picture of where I need to be in the next phase of my life. 

The way our society is set up, there’s always a roadmap that we are expected to follow. For instance, traditionally, there were rites of passage. You were to be born, initiated into adulthood, get married and later die. I believe that is still the case in modern life. The society is set up in such a way that things move in cycles. At a certain point in life, it is not about the pressure people give you. Based on what your great grandparents, grandparents and parents did, you will feel that there are things you too need to do. 

From what I have seen, if you find your purpose, there’s both internal and external pressure to do things differently. Truth is, when you reach 30, it is not society but common sense that will generate the desire within you to settle down. I am not saying that marrying is a must, but at 30, you need a partner.

Pressure is truly present at this age, and it does not always come from outside. It often comes from within. There are so many things I want to achieve at 30. I am not yet married, but at 30, I’d want to be married with a family to look after. At that age, I will need to have at least one business that is running and giving me extra income. At 30, I’ll need to have a stable job and multiple sources of income.


 

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