The age paradox

Mariana Machado
3 min readMay 7, 2021

(a rant, by a 29 year-old)

As most people, when I was a child I wanted to be older than I was. When I was 7 years-old, I wanted to be 10. When I was 15, I wanted to be “a grown-up” and turn 18 already.
Maybe having an older sister who I looked up to had some influence. I used to look at her and my older cousins and think they were the coolest people to ever exist. I wanted to be like them: go out with friends, wear trendy clothes, drink beer, and go to a club without having a curfew.

Of course, this all stopped somewhere around the time I turned 25. I know that at 25 we’re still just babies, but by then you start looking at the future from a different perspective. Also, it’s around that age that people randomly start expecting things from you.

I turned 29 this past March and I’ve come to realize that now people keep expecting even more from me. By now, I should have a job that I will keep forever; I should be living with my boyfriend; I should either be married or planning my wedding; I’m not getting any younger so I should start thinking about having kids and I should definitely have some money saved to buy a house and “settle”.

And to that I say: I love my job, but is any job forever these days? I live by myself and love it; I’m not getting married soon or ever actually; I’m not sure I want kids; I for sure don’t have money to buy a house; and probably worst of all, I don’t want to settle.

This is where the age paradox kicks in.

When we’re children we keep being told that if we don’t like a certain dish, we’ll like it when we’re older; if we’re shy, that will be surpassed by age; if we’re introverts, age will take care of that. Sure, that is the case sometimes. I’m not saying that age doesn’t bring some things that are almost universal to everyone. Being a teenager, for example, is really hard for a lot of people and it feels like nobody understands what we’re going through, until you get pass that age and you see that things don’t have to be that hard and what you thought was the end of the world, actually wasn’t that important. That said, we shouldn’t expect people to change themselves completely just because they’re a certain age. — I’m a 29 year-old Portuguese woman, and I still don’t like codfish.

I hear people saying: “You’re an introvert, but that will change”, or “You don’t feel comfortable talking to strangers? Just wait a few years and you’ll see!”, so, when I say I don’t want to get married, I get the “you’re too young, you’ll change your mind”. When I say I’m not sure I see myself having kids, my older relatives say I’ll change my mind when I grow up; but those are the same people who keep expecting things from me and from others my age and keep comparing where they were when they were my age. Sure, most of my aunts and uncles had at least a child when they were 29, and most of them were married and had a steady job. But do I envy them? Not really. I just want them to make up their minds. Are we too old to be single, or do we have to wait a few more years to want to settle?

I respect everyone who wants to get married, have children and a steady job by a certain age. At the same time, I also respect those who, like me, are not really making plans and don’t want to follow that path.

For over-thinkers like myself, life is way too complicated as it is, so we don’t need constant pressure from those around us to do a certain thing. We’re simply trying to figure out adulthood, just like everyone else.

Welcome to my Ted Talk.

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Mariana Machado

I used to dream about becoming a poet and I’ve always loved writing, so I made it my job.