Imagine this. You’re out on a date. Let’s call this the second date. Maybe you’ve had a glass of wine or two. Maybe there’s candlelight. Things are going well. The eye contact is there. You’re leaning in. He’s leaning in. You’re laughing. He’s laughing. And then the topic of marriage and kids comes up. Usually this is a pretty straightforward conversation “Nope, not yet!” but sometimes it isn’t. I date a fair amount but I’ve now (twice!) had guys be weirded out by the fact that I’m 36 years old and have never been married. This is where I have to question that person’s priorities. When faced with the decision of checking a box or opting not to make a huge mistake, I’ll never do something just to check a box in order to meet a certain deadline.
When I heard about SK-II’s #INeverExpire campaign, I found myself nodding my head and saying YES a million times. The campaign is dedicated to raising awareness about the age-related pressures we (women) face every day. Last year, they launched The Expiry Date film in Asia, which I’ve embedded below. If you have a few minutes I highly encourage you to watch it. The film is beautiful and inspiring (and made me tear up a little bit). It also made me feel really lucky to be an American as from what I can tell, age-related pressure is so much worse in other parts of the world, specifically Asia. It’s heartbreaking to me that in Asia, unmarried women are said to “expire” at age 30.
What I love about the campaign is that it encourages women to decide for ourselves – who we are, who we aspire to be, what our timeline looks like, and what really matters.
I am really, really lucky in that my parents have never put pressure on me to check certain boxes. I’ll always be grateful to them for that. They’ve always encouraged me to live life on my own terms and as long as I’m happy, they’re happy.
Still, it can be hard not to feel like I need to conform to society’s expectations. Being in my thirties (single + childless) there are times where I can’t help but feel behind… like something is missing or wrong with me because I haven’t done those things. I mean, I look at my mom and know that when she was my age, she had a ten year old (AND my two younger sisters!!) I will always be grateful for the sacrifices my mom (and dad) made to raise my sisters and me, but I could not imagine myself being married with three kids right now. It would be an actual disaster.
I think the bottom line is this: life is not about checking boxes or accomplishing things on a certain timeline. It’s about living on your own terms and not doing things because you think you “should,” or because you feel pressure from friends/family/etc. That’s when you really get into trouble. I don’t want to come across as anti-marriage and children (everyone should do what’s right for them!) because that’s not the case at all. I want (very) badly to find a partner, but I have yet to meet the right person. Kids are another thing – sometimes I worry that my biological clock has stopped ticking. I love kids but know I’d also be really happy just being the cool auntie. I really don’t know if I would be the best parent (I’m way too selfish) and still feel like I have so much more I want to accomplish before settling down. It also depends on the person I wind up with. A lot of the men I’ve dated are clearly looking for a more traditional partner – someone who will want to stay home with the kids. And while that would be great for a lot of people, I wouldn’t be happy doing that.
There is no “one size fits all” timeline, there is no “right” path besides the one you choose. What’s right for me may not be right for you, and vice versa. As Amy Poehler says, “Good for her! Not for me!” Every one of us has different hopes + dreams, and we all have a completely unique path. At the end of the day we are the masters of our own destiny and shouldn’t compare ourselves to others. That’s the thing that really matters, and that’s why I love this campaign so, so much.
Never, ever feel badly about your own life choices. If you’re living a life that makes you feel fulfilled and good on the inside, you’re doing things right. And as far as “expiring” goes, well that is just laughable. We don’t expire – we get better and better as we gain more life experience
Age-related pressure is everywhere you look. If you’re dating someone, everyone wants to know when you’ll get married. And then they’ll want to know when you’re having a baby. And then when you’re going to have a second. People can be pushy but only we know what’s right for us! What about you? What age-related pressures have you faced and how have you overcome them?
I’d love for you to share your own stories with me in the comments!