By: Karina Velasco, Her 30’s Guest Blogger
Ten years ago I was 35 and at the most I possibly looked 25. Yet I was certain my life was on a spiral to its end, the end of my being relevant anymore.
Although, I had experienced this to some smaller degree as many of us do at the end of our 20’s, the subliminal information about the upcoming end of my 30’s and the sense of a powerful and NOT positive ending was looming stronger than I even realized. And as I fantasized about a fabulous 40th birthday party in the future, I was not truly aware how much deterioration I was experiencing emotionally due to this upcoming event.
The “negative” aspect of the upcoming end of my 30’s was subliminal but scripted into every part of my society. The messages that life as I knew it was coming to its crumbling conclusion soon, were everywhere. What would follow was a very deep, emotional and wounding type of death, the end of the things that were positive and full of promise. The process was painful and isolating. I was being conditioned to believe that the end of my 30’s was the end of my viability.
The unceasing commentaries came in direct and indirect explosions. “Are you getting ready for your mammograms?” Or, “You need to be more vigilant about women’s cancers.” “How is your fertility by the way? Are you noticing any peri-menopause yet? Fragile eggs you know, fragile eggs!”
And, “Oh you are 35 now?” You need a more powerful eye cream.” This is what the make-up counter people would mention and then they would look at me, and say, “But you don’t seem to need it. Still let’s be safe, this one is also a firming cream.” And for the love of all that is good and holy, “use sunscreen!”
Yet the loudest, most deafening and crippling sound was coming from within me. I was not married and I did not have children. And that noise was so LOUD and over powering, that I could no longer even hear my own inner voice, my thoughts, my true higher self. That blasting noise that says it is very hard for a woman to find someone to love them as they get older and especially after their fertility naturally wanes, was not only making me deaf, I was living in a constant state of what if’s, while simultaneously being overcome by it.
What would happen to me if I did not do this and that in my 30’s, my small and distant family would ask? And as my 30’s progressed the noise was becoming a daily scream, from people, from the media, from society itself. “What follows after 39 is a downward spin, you know that don’t you? And if you reach the end of your 30’s unmarried and you haven’t had a child, you will be in a depth of despair so great, you won’t be able to do anything, except wish you had done something about it sooner. You will live a life of regret. It doesn’t matter that any other part of your life is successful! That’s how it is, period. The end.”
I actually began to seek information about becoming a single Mother and looking into in vitro should I need it. I even spoke with a family counselor and asked with great care and responsible concern for the wellness of my future child, would a child born to a single mother be OK emotionally? She re-assured me a child that was deeply wanted and loved, would always be fine. I asked a close friend from Jr. High School, would he consider being my donor if I needed to go this route? He took the request very seriously and into deep, thoughtful and careful consideration.
And in the most bizarre turn of events the amazing thing was, that even my friends that did not want to have children were also facing the 30’s death parade. For them it was manifesting in inner battles with their careers, their desires for weddings and meaningful relationships and what seemed the unending concerns about skin! Oh dear God, here it comes, the end as we know it! Pass me the lotion, I need to hydrate.
In this haze of hyper, unrealistic madness, I met a man. He asked me to marry him and to have a child. I had just made it. I was 5 months pregnant when I celebrated my 40th birthday. I had literally beat the end of my 30’s dooms day parade by only months. Thank goodness. “You made it girl! Just before your expiration date came to its full fruition,” I thought to myself. And this is where the happy ending would seem to come in, but what would follow, would leave me broken beyond measure.
Within weeks of giving birth I faced the very difficult but very necessary end of my marriage. In part due to the fact that marriage should not happen because one is panicking their eggs are ready to fall out, their boobs are going to droop, or their skin will begin to wrinkle and you will no longer be as valuable or desirable or worse, lovable. On a deeper level, marriage should not be entered into because everyone says that the end of your 30’s signify a time when things start to decline for human beings, especially women.
That ending of a very toxic situation just after my child was born was followed by what a friend would call the perfect storm. The economy crashed, loss of work, a barrage of difficult circumstances, the absolute and most deserved demands of parenting taking hold of a lot my time. Within a year, I had lived quite a list of “real” things. I had overcome serious health problems at this point in my life, which included the loss of another baby, the house was gone, the car was gone, and all of the bullshit, and unrealistic worries of my 30’s were pebbles of sand, insignificant to the realities of facing raising a child under severe distress, during the worse economic downturn since the 1920’s.
The worries of how many lines had begun to make a miniscule appearance around my eyes were thoughts that had no room in my mind. I didn’t have time to even look in a mirror to apply make-up, so who cares! Those worries that stifle our growth and productivity, that cloud our hearts, had zero space in my life now. And believe me I am a deep person, rarely would anyone describe me as concerned with anything trivial. Yet, even so, I had fallen somewhat victim to this insane script of untruths told to us by a youth obsessed society. In a way not having a moment to even look in a mirror was becoming a true blessing in disguise.
I was shattered into so many pieces that there is not enough space here to discuss it, but it is also what finally woke me up. As I began to pick up the fragments of myself, I would begin to understand reality for the first time in my life. And then I could clearly see the truth. The 30’s are not the end. The 30’s are the foundation to a new beginning!
I had made a lot of choices under the fear of that drowning, social stigma in my thirties, and fear is not the place you make choices from. First lesson of the beginning of my life, fear is not the place from where life is preserved, fear is where life crumbles.
So at 41 as everything was falling apart, the new began to be born in its place. Better, real and guess what, more vibrant, full of life and much more viable than ever before. What was happening was actually radiating the beginning.
Empowered by being a Mother and seeing the perfection of life from its inception. I began to do what I had never known how to do or even understood before. I began to learn and understand the process of loving myself. Although, I had always had a good measure of high self-esteem, I was becoming aware that self-esteem is not self-love and they are not inter-changeable. I had been born a perfect baby as my child and every single one of us is born. Even if someone is born with a missing something or other, life begins and remains perfect. And I was becoming aware of this truth. We are like the sea, the stars, and the tree outside the window right now. We are full of purpose and promise and age does not alter that towards the negative, age enhances it, it deepens our purpose, it builds us, it does not deteriorate us. It shapes our real self.
In these new realizations I began to get very quiet and stopped the external noise. All of that noise that had been so destructive, I silenced it. I got rid of the TV. I have never looked at another fashion magazine again. I stopped listening to the news. People magazine was gone and all I did was listen to myself. I began to meditate regularly and to be with me. Me without the imposed views of the world around me. Me without a partner or a lover. Me without asking relatives or friends for opinions. Me without much socializing, I had no time for it. It was just me with myself. As the days, weeks and months passed, that silence led to the most divine music, and it was not emanating from an external place, it was coming from within.
With that music I danced better, clearer and with more purpose than ever. I created from a place that I am certain has always existed, but the noise being made by those around me had muted it. But now I could dwell in it and truly build from it. Free from the false noise, I was out of my own way.
In my 40’s, the enormous effort I had always dedicated to my work began to give bigger and better fruit. I created work that was deeper, richer, more technically challenging, and riskier. More than that, I began to understand my purpose, my calling and myself. Suddenly, unlike what we are told about getting older, I had the strength to work harder, longer and with more energy than ever. Bigger theaters, renowned musicians, composers, even a nomination by UNESCO have graced this time, all while parenting, running a home, cooking, cleaning, all of it. The time that everyone was trying to make me believe was going to be the beginning of the end, was in fact, a magnificent beginning. Everything before this had been me laying down a foundation for today.
I have learned to love life just as it is and where it is. The present. And as I write this, I know I am a work in progress not a finished one, but a work that is in daily expansiveness, learning, growing, evolving. I see the mess in the room as I type and I think of mistakes I’ve made in recent weeks and the beauty of this time is the grace with which even mistakes come into awareness. Mistakes have purpose as we have more years, and are met with kindness, because we finally understand how dignified we truly are and have always been.
It’s been after the young 30’s that I have found the place to accept myself and believe in myself. Where I have experienced bounties of universal love for all beings around me. Where I work daily to forgive the past and greater than that, most liberating, the time where I learn to forgive myself and stop believing the myths.
Women are rich, deeply complex beings. All human beings are. And I have found out, that in fact both men and women struggle with a sense of desperation if their 30’s don’t look a certain way. Many feel they are facing a form of death as they go beyond their 30’s, a type of ending that is not followed by new beginnings, but they are wrong.
I am here to confirm that this is not true. What follows the 30’s will be the most productive, enlightening, growth filled time you could ever imagine. Life will be more brilliant than you can ever foresee before them. And what is most exciting is that my friends that are in their 60’s smile at me in my newfound excitement. And as I share with them my new awareness, they pat my back and often take my hand as if I am a child and say; “Oh you sweet girl, you don’t know anything at all yet, it’s really the 60’s that are the beginning!” I look at them like a kid filled with wonder and anticipation. Wow, what will that beginning be like?!
Karina Carmen Velasco was born in Madrid, Spain and is of both Spanish and Cuban heritage. She was primarily raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico and currently resides in Los Angeles, California.
She is a dancer, choreographer, actor and writer. Since age four, her primary mediums of expression were evident in these four paths, which is why her company is called Cuatro Caminos, The Four Roads.
Studying various genres of dance since early childhood, it was during her work in one of the most recognized theatrical productions of 1999 in Los Angeles, Blood Wedding by Garcia Lorca that flamenco would become inseparably integral to her continued work. In it she recognized a deeply internal and natural form that she intuitively experienced, and by which due to its own nature includes dance, music, poetry and theatricality all of her most integral paths of expression. She returned to Spain to further work realizing herself within it.
With countless performances including The Kodak Theater, The Los Angeles Theater Center, The Saban Theater, among many performance houses. In traditional and contemporary Flamenco, Spanish Dance, Opera, Classical Spanish Theater and Classical English Theater, Musical Theater, as well as innovative contemporary works such as in the nationally acclaimed From The Horses Mouth by recognized contemporary choreographer Tina Croll. She has been commissioned by the Mayor of Los Angeles, the Historic Societies of Chula Vista and San Clemente, the U.S. Government and is recognized by the Consul General of Spain in Los Angeles. She has collaborated with artists from around the world in various disciplines and many mediums.
In 2014 she joined touring Spanish classical and symphonic composer Juan Antonio Simarro on his world tour in Los Angeles and has remained with the Spain based artist production as manager of national and international performances.
She is a grant recipient and has dedicated her work and company to one of her most driving passions, the continued expansion and knowledge of Iberian and world musicology through the experience and conversation of world arts and culture. She further dedicates her work towards one of her most internal callings, the continued development of multicultural understanding, equal rights and gender equality and self-realization through the arts.
She is fluent in Spanish and English and speaks conversational Greek and Italian. Through many years of extensive travel and investigation, she has garnered a wealth of world and cultural arts knowledge and has collaborated on several published books both in the United States and Europe.
In 2014 she was honored to receive notice of having been nominated to become a member of The International Dance Council, UNESCO headquartered in Paris, France. In Summer of 2014 her nomination was confirmed by the UNESCO based foundation.
And she considers the title of Mother an unequivocal honorable priority.