Stop Worrying About Getting Older


"I'm worried that you keep leaving your handbag there. Someone could nick it." 

A female staff member in her late 50s barked this at me. We were at a work event at a local public park, supervising the play-doh tent for a community festival. I met this woman a few moments ago in the swap of staff members from the previous shift. While she sat on a chair in the far corner of the tent, not engaging with the children (which she was sort of supposed to be doing), I was bending over praising a small child about her little house, dog and tree creations which her 4-year-old fingers tirelessly kneaded together. 

"Oh, I'm not too worried," I smiled regarding my handbag's distance from me, "I run pretty fast." 

"It's because you're too young to understand," she shot back. "You're still at that age where you think you're invincible. You just think you can do anything, and it's because you haven't been through any hardship in your life."

My ears pricked up, side of mouth curved. Now I was offended. Never mind my Father's passing away at 19, my family's subsequent financial and emotional hardships, broken relationships and the like; to this woman, I had definitely not been through any suffering purely due to my age and stage of life. 

"I'm flattered that you think I'm so young," I said, trying to diffuse the growing tension in the exchange, "but I'm really not that young."

"Oh really?" she said with a cock of her head, "how old are you then?"

"Take a guess," I tried to smile in a light hearted way, although incredibly uncomfortable at the unwarranted hostility coming from this worker I had met literally 30 minutes ago. 

"Hmm well, girls of your cultural background tend to look much younger than they are, so I'd say you were about 30."

"I'd say you were correct," and I hoped now she would shut up.

Instead, as if she was a shot-and-fired bullet from a cosmological gun, she said "You know given everything I've been through in my life, 30 is still quite young, you know I'm 57, and you just realise when you become more mature that life isn't so easy, that you have to face reality. And girls of your age don't know that. You just think you're indispensable."

My heartbeat grew faster, even as I tried to sassily deter her with comments like "Oh yes, 57, that is quite old," and "Yes, maybe it's time for you to get life insurance," I could not believe this woman's level of venom-intensity. Something about my youth clearly triggered something deep inside her, enough to emotionally assassinate a complete stranger in a what-should-be professional context.

In that heated exchange I mired through the reasons why she felt it justified to speak to someone... anyone - let alone a random stranger - like that.

My colleague, who had heard most of this conversation take place and did not engage, was a Mother of four daughters, a year shy of her 39th birthday. We broke off from our shift together, a hurried farewell away from the tension.

"Wow," she said, no longer within earshot, "I couldn't believe the way she was speaking to you. That woman must be really insecure."



blink and then you're old.

What trophies shall line the wall-units of our souls in our old age? Will we "young girls" survive not being valued for our taut breasts, pert bums, limitless energy and the ability to lift three small children at once? It is easy for me to say now that my youthful looks aren't as valuable as my knowledge, career and skills, but I think the rubber will smack the road when I hit 50 and so do my eye-bags.

I hope that woman is surrounded by people who appreciate her. I hope her children love her, I hope her husband has stuck around. I hope her colleagues aren't targets for her mean monologues and I hope her financial assets column is longer than her liabilities column. (She said she didn't have life insurance after all, which concerns me for someone aged 57 who proudly asserted she had survived many hardships).

As I approach age 30 in less than 2 days, I've found the anxiety of growing older present in people who have unmet expectations for their lives. Ouch?

When my 26 year old friend complains that she is 4 years from 30, she looks at me and adds quickly "Sorry Jess, I know you're turning 30 soon."

But she has no reason to apologise. Her distaste for growing older is her own emotional reality. Turning 30 is exciting to me (and recently I wrote a letter to my 39-year-old, fabulous and unconditionally accepted self!). We are the ones who attach positive meanings to neutral events, and my optimism about the future prevails.  

If you would indulge me, here's why I think growing older is awesome:

 Yeah baby!

Yeah baby!

1. People will finally take you seriously.

In my 8 year Social Work career, I confidently walk into Principal’s offices of major high schools, demand blood results for clients in children’s hospitals, interrupt Doctors in consultations as I’m a fellow “allied health professional”, and supervise 21-year-old uni students. 

Yes, I do love feeling important. And while I still look like a young Asian girl sometimes - my age, experience and air about me projects a 30-something year old who knows what the heck she’s talking about. And I feel the respect through the phone much more than I used to. 

 Tiger focus.

Tiger focus.

2. You have less time for stupidity.

As a Dating Coach, I love speaking to women in their 30s and 40s. Oftentimes they are career established, have written books, own houses and have their practical and emotional sh** together. A woman of such high calibre can date with clarity of focus - “Do I even like spending time with this guy?”  - “Does he intellectually stimulate me?” - “Does he really cherish me?”

Yes, their problems are real too - a closing fertility window, perhaps. Or thinking men are intimidated by them (spoiler: they’re not! You just have to let them fix your computer, carry your groceries and cry on their shoulder from time to time.) 

Alas women in these age brackets tend to be calmer, more self-assured, and pretty much self-actualised.

3. You mysteriously get a double portion of self-confidence.



My coaching clients often tell me that the older they get, the less insecure they become. They have “figured themselves out” and fallen in love with who they are; who God has created them to be.  

I would say this is because life with God is a life of constant growth. And we can’t grow if we don’t self-reflect and change. If you simply want life to always be good, then stagnancy is not an option! 

In my case (and excuse this blog’s very Jess-is-turning-30-and-doesn’t-give-a-crap-anymore tone), when we attach ourselves to a purpose that uses every gift in our God-gave-us-this Pack, we realise that life just gets better and better. 

I know that with more knowledge, skill and experience, my practice as a Coach will become more established. People trust a 50 year old more than they trust a 29-year-old with the deep inner work of their romantic struggles. And I will endeavour to give my clients the best possible version of myself that I can realistically give.

Did you just have a milestone birthday? Share your musings about getting older in the comments.


FOLLOW ME: @jessica.santosa


How To Not Be Intimidated By Really Attractive People

A person is a person is a person. 

Now, if a celebrity is a person who has publicly broadcasted their achievements on various mediums, and successfully leveraged this to make you believe their value is higher than yours (called "perceived value"), then this must mean everybody has access to this power.

Ahoy hoy, friends! I trust your May has been as cold as a frosted lipstick colour, as has mine.

This month's blog is especially dedicated to my friend who flits in and out of confidence around that gorgeous proverbial Fireman, the kind that saves cats from burning buildings and secretly stares in her direction when she's not looking. She is sooo beautiful, talented and crazily intelligent, yet she never feels "good enough" for the men she's attracted to. 

All this to say, perceived value is a sneaky trick of the mind. God's truth is that He loves you (John 15:9), deems you valuable and precious (1 Cor 6:19-20), created you for a purpose (John 15:16), has given you the power to choose the best kind of life (Romans 12:2), and wants to be in relationship with you for eternity (Philippians 3:20).

So here's how to stop thinking we're not worth life's bulbous blueberry tank of blessings...

1. Rock your own physical assets.

 Baby, you're gorgeous.

Baby, you're gorgeous.

Self-perception is an intriguing animal. God has created us in His own image (Genesis 1:27), meaning that we can be as smart, powerful, wealthy, successful, knowledgeable, loving... basically as beautiful (or ugly and insecure) as we want to be. The choice is up to us.

It's just not helped by it's ugly stepsister Comparison, fed by hours of scrolling through social media and wondering why your eyes are not as almond-shaped as theirs, or whatever.

You are beautiful. You will always be your own version of beautiful. If you don't have that girl's statuesque height or that guy's muscle definition, there are probably traits you have that are in demand. For example, my girlfriend who ritualises her fake-tanning sessions has an amazing Kim Kardashian-like figure, and my male friend who complains his six pack is slow to emerge has a very strong jaw line (and not to mention killer sense of humour).

So work out your colour palette, hit the morning walking trail, eat organic veggies and adorn yourself with a few tailored items of clothing that fit your body shape nicely. And rock your uniqueness like it's hawttt, where you'll realise that being "super attractive" is a factor that is easily within your control. It's just about effort.

2. Picture them in pajamas without make up or hair gel.

 Meh. This is us, stripped of anything impressive.

Meh. This is us, stripped of anything impressive.

Who are they at zero?

Someone once told me that we are nothing without our internal qualities, like our resilience, easily forgiving nature, knowledge about the intricacies of our loved ones and ability to bake a mean Shepherd's Pie. We are our true selves when we close the door to our bedrooms at the end of the day and devote our sleep to the Lord.

And let me bust their Really Attractive Person (RAP) bubble right now. A RAP is simply a person who got their colours done at Myer, attends a few gym sessions a week, and maintains a sufficiently healthy eating plan. Or, they've just hit a genetic lottery. So, what - it doesn't sound to me like that's very difficult, or that they've earned their "beauty".

Alas, without all those expensive clothes, and if you got to know them better, they will probably emerge as equally insecure and human as the rest of us. On a typical week night they will probably be in their mismatched fluffy socks, with bits of chip breakage on their trackies, knees hugging their chest with a blanket wrapped around their fragile, fragile souls...

3. Try EBAs on everybody.

 You are free to work the room. The only blockage is your own self-doubt.

You are free to work the room. The only blockage is your own self-doubt.

Matthew Hussey's theory of Effort Based Action (EBA) is brilliant. Applying this to your everyday life, the idea is to kickstart a new habit of creating. Enacting one millimetre shift per day changes will result in attracting the same sort of thing back to you. 

Let me explain:

Say at the next Church Gathering you decide to say "How's it going?" to 10 guys you don't know from a bar of soap, tap them on the shoulder, smile, and walk away. How many of the 10 might result in a conversation? And out of those conversations, how many might result in an exchange of phone numbers? Is not church a warm environment where people are used to making new acquaintances and friends?

To be honest with you, this is the strategy I used to meet my very amazing boyfriend who has helped me write and draft this blog post. (Yup, he put those words in. Just kidding...)

One of my Christian male friends told me that if a girl started a normal conversation with him, he would absolutely love that and be open to chatting with her. Is he single? Yes. Is he attractive? Yes. Is he mature, masculine and godly? Very. Is he looking for someone he can get to know seriously? Absolutely. The eligible men are out there, ladies! You just need to say hello to them!

4. Aim to connect, over impress.

Congratulations to those who stopped reading this blog and threw caution to the wind by picking up the phone and calling Cutie. You know you who are!

Excuse the sales pitch, but my Three Month Coaching Program (see Shop) will delve into the array of thoughts that may be holding you back, and you will learn to take responsibility for finding the love of your life, partnering with God in this process. 

For instance, the reason why RAPs may not notice you is because you become overly conscious of how your hands are awkwardly swinging by your side. However, around non-RAPs (or guys you perceive as lower value in your eyes), they get you into fits of laughter from all their Guardians of the Galaxy impersonations. With such RAPs you care too much, but with non-RAPs you care very little. 

The key is to value each person equally, and make a judgment on their value after getting to know them for a consistent period of time. 

5. Put on their crocodile shoes.

 We are all mere shadow-casters that can try each other's lives on for size.

We are all mere shadow-casters that can try each other's lives on for size.

Lecrae once said that as a popular Christian hip hop/rap artist, his fans "expected more of him than he was physically capable of giving" (paraphrased). I am referring to celebrities in this post as they are also people the general public tends to idolise and elevate to God-like status, deifying their seasonally popular qualities. 

The truth is that they are human too, and while we're free to admire them, one day you too might become a famous Teacher/Software Developer/Author/Singer/Speaker/Musician. How will you cope with all the fame, the limited freedom, the removal of the right to pop over to the supermarket next door to pick up some milk in your Uggh Boots? 

There is a public persona and a private life, and the trouble is when we give someone too much credit for who we know them to be in only magazine publications and TV shows. They had a full Hair and Make-Up team here! They cheated!

Parallel this with our intimidation towards RAPs - while we're ogling them from afar, somebody somewhere, considers you a RAP, and is drooling over you, too.

Did you find this helpful? Please like and comment below. 

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