The 2023 Oscars Reminded Me That Life Isn’t Over After 30

When you break it down to its simplest form, life is just a bunch of numbers.

Making it through your first year of life then leads on to other big milestones, like reaching teenagehood, becoming an adult, and beyond. These age markers all seem quite fun and full of promise until you start feeling scared of the looming birthdate in the calendar.

All of a sudden you’re about to turn 30 and you begin to wonder “what the hell have I achieved except develop a nasty UTI last July in Mykonos.” Niche anecdotes aside the sentiment remains: there is an unrealistic expectation to have your sh*t together by the time you approach 30. It’s largely thanks to some archaic societal hangovers with a healthy dose of that cruel mistress ‘comparison’ which is often magnified thanks to social media

I’m not too proud to say that over the past few years, as I navigated my way through my early 30s, I have fallen victim to feeling more than a little despondent about my age, my work, and where my life is going. I had a burgeoning career as an entertainment journalist and, in the midst of shooting for the stars, I turned 30. Then a pandemic decimated my job and I had a baby.

These three pretty major events made me feel like an old cow ready to be put out to pasture. I truly believed that the reflection in the mirror showed a frail woman perched on her zimmer frame muttering incoherent sentences about that time I interviewed Zac Efron “back in the good ol’ days”. Ok, sure grandma let’s get you back to bed!

Then I watched the 2023 Oscars and had something of a lightbulb moment. As the awards in the acting categories were handed out, something became very obvious to me: these weren’t sprightly, young ingénues fresh out of acting school. No, in fact, these were actors and actresses who have been slogging away at their craft for many, many years.

At 51-years-old, Best Supporting Actor winner, Ke Huy Quan, gave a rousing acceptance speech that hit a nerve in me when he said, “dreams are something you have to believe in. I almost gave up on mine. To all of you out there: please keep your dreams alive.”

After enjoying the heights of an extremely lucrative acting career, Brendan Fraser was subsequently booted from the upper echelons of Hollywood high society. Now, at 54 years old, he is enjoying a comeback for the ages after starring in the critically acclaimed film The Whale which culminated in his first-ever Oscar nomination and win for Best Actor.

“I started in this business 30 years ago, and things didn’t come easily to me, but there was a facility that I didn’t appreciate at the time, until it stopped,” he mused in his acceptance speech.

After working for many decades in a fickle industry that will often cast aside women once they begin to show signs of ageing, at 64 years old, Jamie Lee Curtis won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in Everything Everywhere All at Once. Now that is staying power. After all those years she kept showing up and then the hard work finally paid off.

Photo: Getty Images

And then there’s Michelle Yeoh who has undoubtedly been the darling of this year’s awards season. The 60-year-old Malaysian Chinese artist took home the award for Best Actress for her inspired work in Everything Everywhere All at Once.

“For all the little boys and girls who look like me watching tonight, this is a beacon of hope and possibilities. This is proof that, dream big, and dreams do come true. And ladies, don’t let anybody tell you you are ever past your prime. Never give up,” she said in her acceptance speech.

You are never past your prime. Don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t dream big. 

Hearing these words shifted something in my core. No, life isn’t over at 30. A new phase of life starts at 30. You have an opportunity to shift your focus, find what makes you tick and chase it with everything you’ve got.

If someone makes you feel like you’re past your prime I’d like you to close your eyes and imagine Michelle Yeoh, Jamie Lee Curtis, Ke Huy Quan, and Brendan Fraser are sitting on a little bench in your head cheering you on! Michelle just told you to break down systemic gender barriers – do it! Brendan said he wants you to overcome your personal battles and go for that promotion! Ke thinks you’re amazing and you’ve got so much to offer the world –  next year, 5 years from now, even 50 years from now! And Jamie says you need to strap in for the long haul because this ride is just beginning.

I’m approaching my mid-30s and truly cannot be bothered wasting another minute wondering if I should just give up my dreams and roll over like a sad little cockroach with my legs up in the air. Yes, the wrinkle lines are getting a little deeper and my right knee won’t stop clicking after playing tennis yesterday, but there is so much more life for me to live. Let’s chase those dreams, I’ll see you at the top.

To see Everything Everywhere All At Once, book your tickets at Hoyts.

Related: Eight Years After #OscarsSoWhite, We Finally Got Some Diversity at This Year’s Academy Awards

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