No more expectations: “Being single at 32 is one big adventure”

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This article is part of a series called ‘Don’t Believe The Narrative’ – we’re rewriting the script for the over thirties; turning the spotlight on those who CHOOSE a different path; celebrating the adventurers and won’t settle-downers. Because this life stage doesn’t have to be all about babies, weddings and work promotions, just because the script says it should. You write your script, you choose your best moments – from epic travel tales to dinners with travel BFFs. #DontBelieveTheNarrative.

My name is Jenni, I’m 32 years old, I have a husband of five years, a two-year old daughter and another on the way.  I live in a semi-detached, four-bedroom house, drive a fairly new car and have a pet Labrador called Hector.”

Does the above sound familiar?

I’m guessing the answer is yes and this is, quite possibly, because it is indeed the case for a large percentage of people in their 30s. But it’s not true for me – well, my name is Jenni and I am 32 but I am most definitely single.


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Lunch time park cuddles with sid 🙂 #happy #summer #dog #parklife

A post shared by Jenni Shaw (@jenni_2309) on

This settled and comfortable lifestyle has historically been the vision that has formed societal expectations which are still very much prevalent today.

I do want to say straight off that there is absolutely NOTHING WRONG with the above scenario and, quite frankly, I think it sounds like a lovely, (busy) and very fulfilling life.

But there are other options for those who are single and in their 30s or 40s – different life paths to choose – and this is just one of many.

Bucking the trend

Being on the receiving end of comments like, “I was married with two kids at your age,” and “so and so from your year at school has just had her second baby,” has made me look at my life from an outsider’s perspective.

I’ve realised that, whilst I’m completely happy with my life choices, it may seem to others that I’ve in some way ‘failed’, as I’m not conforming to the traditional trajectory for life the stereotype (of being single in your 30s, or 40s) would have you believe.

But I’ve never been one to just fit in with the crowd and have always felt the need to buck the trend and be a bit unique.

It’s that thing where you discover a song or band and are obsessed with them until they release a song that reaches number one.  Everyone else suddenly jumps on the bandwagon and I totally lose interest as it’s now far too mainstream and normal.


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What a weekend! Thanks @eskfest and the great British summer! #eskfest #fun #festival #summer

A post shared by Jenni Shaw (@jenni_2309) on

I’m not saying that my life choices are quite as whimsical and flitty as this but what I am saying is that they are indeed that…a choice.

Living my best life

If I was to write a list of the things I love about my life, I’m fairly confident that it would make some pretty nice reading.

My own ‘narrative’ is very much based around ‘living my best life’.

I know this is a cliched term, which is banded about a lot, particularly on social media, however, I do think that it encapsulates the way in which more and more people are trying to live their lives.

For me, I want to spend time with the people I love, explore new corners of the world, try out new activities, eat yummy food and embark on fun adventures.


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Best day at the blue mountains with @bluemountainsecotours #beautiful #happy #holiday

A post shared by Jenni Shaw (@jenni_2309) on

In my 20’s, I definitely felt a large element of pressure to conform to societal expectations, and this was partly influenced by being young and not yet having that inner-confidence that comes with age and experience.

Now that I’m a bit older and more experienced in life, I’ve developed an inner-confidence which means I’m happy with my life and, therefore, find it pretty easy to ignore expectations thrust upon me by others. I want to spend my time enjoying life rather than worrying about what other people are thinking and saying.

One big adventure

I’m all about getting out of your comfort zone and being an adventurer.

The phrase, “well, this is an adventure.” was something that my Dad would attach to things that were maybe not going quite according to plan when we were growing up and it always seemed very exciting.

There was many a hike where we’d be stuck on the side of a mountain, the rain lashing down, the map in shreds, darkness descending and all it would take was that little phrase for us all to be excited about the situation. I think this sense of adventure has stayed with me – and grown with me – into my 30s.


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On top of the world with @laurei #lakedistrict #mountain #happy

A post shared by Jenni Shaw (@jenni_2309) on

Every adventure I go on reinvigorates me and makes me excited for life. I did the Great North Swim earlier this year and saw a quote which I definitely think drives my love for adventure:

“Great things don’t come from comfort zones.”

So I love discovering new things.

When you think about being single in your 30s, people often talk about the need to start having babies – but here’s a thought:

Do you ever get jealous of babies?

They get to learn and discover new stuff EVERY DAY, even the simplest of things; the taste of a new food, seeing an animal they have never seen before, experiencing a new type of weather.

Exploring and adventuring means that I get to experience this feeling as an adult and I think that this is an invaluable tool in maintaining a zest for life and not getting bored or stuck in a rut.


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Birthday cake and champers on the rocks for @shawcarrieshaw #birthday #holiday #happy #cake

A post shared by Jenni Shaw (@jenni_2309) on

Turning 30 is an undeniable milestone and people approach these big life events in different ways.

In my opinion, there’s no point stressing out about things that you can’t control and, actually, why not embrace and enjoy what you have. So, actually, I think your 30’s are a perfect time in life to explore, adventure, see the world and have some fun.  You’re absolutely young enough to be fit, healthy, inquisitive and adventurous.

My life, my moments

As with all things, there will of course be downsides.

I’m not denying that I’d love to have someone in my life to do nothing with on a Friday night or explore the world with. However, I’m a big believer in living in the moment and enjoying what you have.

In this case, that’s is a pretty nice life, doing what I want, when I want and sharing incredible moments with the people I love. And the moments that stand out in your 30s and 40s don’t have to follow the script, it’s up to you what they are – though I’m sure getting married is a lovely moment to have.

I do think that the world is changing and the pool of singletons in their 30s and 40s is growing.

We’re a fun bunch and the more we speak up for ourselves and swerve away from the traditional narrative, the more it will become the norm.


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Flies flies flies #alltheflies

A post shared by Jenni Shaw (@jenni_2309) on

We’re the ones who can create a new narrative and change the expectations placed upon young people by a society that has been built to believe that it is either, marriage, kids, a pet dog or failure.

There are so many more choices out there for single people in their 30s and 40s and I truly believe that everyone has their own version of happy, which they should be comfortable with, be proud of and protect.

Images: Unsplash, Jenni Shaw

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