Living Life On Your Own Terms (and Timeline)

Jess Ann Kirby shares her experience with living life on her own terms with the SKII I Never Expire Campaign

When are you getting married? When are you having kids? You know the clock is ticking right? I get at least one of these questions regularly. I know I’m not alone. SK-II recently launched #INeverExpire, a global campaign that raises awareness of the age-related pressures women face every day.  As part of the campaign to encourage women to live their lives on their own terms and to challenge societal expectations of age-related timelines, they created a powerful film called The Expiry Date (scroll down for the full video). The film documents the age-related pressures put on women and how we can decide the narrative of our own lives. Watching the film was incredibly emotional for me. As a woman in her 30s, the societal pressures around marriage, babies, and career are all too familiar. All of that is compounded by the social media driven world we live in. 

Scroll through my social media feed on any given day and a majority of the photos are pregnancy announcements, gender reveals, baby photos and wedding albums. Craig and I have four weddings on the calendar before the end of the year. Don’t get me wrong I am excited about all of them, but I can guarantee at every single one we’ll get the same question, “So when is it your turn?” Someone said to me recently, “Don’t worry, it’ll be you one day.” As if the only thing that’s important to me or that matters is getting married. The reality is, I have no desire to get married and I don’t know that I ever will. I don’t know if I ever want to have kids either. As women, there is so much pressure to have children, and to want to have children. Often times simply sharing the notion that you might not want that will get you labeled as selfish or vain.

The truth is there is no “right way” and there is no perfect timeline. I am so thankful to live life on my own terms and to challenge the societal pressures of marriage and a baby by 30. I realize it’s much easier to do that now than when my Mom was my age (she was married, had 3 kids and worked full time as an attorney by age 30). I’m not saying there is anything wrong with that, just that every woman is different, and that’s ok. We deserve to make choices and decide how to define happiness, regardless of how that does or doesn’t fit into society’s age-related timeline.

I’ve included SK-II’s film The Expiry Date below. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the film and how societal age-related pressure has impacted your life. Let me know in the comments.

This post is in partnership with SK-II. All opinions expressed are my own.

39 Comments

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  1. Nora says:

    Thank you, Jess! You are not alone. My boyfriend and I have been together for 6 years and most people just cannot fathom why we’re not married. Unfortunately most of the scrutiny gets directed towards him for not “popping the question” but the truth is I don’t want to get married. Especially now that we are broke and renovating our house ourselves haha! Thank you for your honesty.

  2. kelly says:

    I love your blush sneakers!! Any chance you could tell me the brand? I look forward to your posts – thanks for all the inspiration!!

  3. Virginia says:

    I completely share your feelings on all of the above! I’m so glad that it’s more of a common thing to talk about. Most of my friends have children and I am and have always been so happy for them because it’s something they wanted. It can be a little lonely sometimes, being the one without kids, because they can’t go for drinks at the last minute, etc, but I’m finding my way through that. I’m in a long term relationship, and while we talk about marriage, it’s also not our top priority. Thank you for being a voice for women who do not take society’s route!

    • Jessica says:

      Thanks Virginia. I think it’s great to talk about these things and normalize the fact that not everyone follows the same path. xx

  4. Allie says:

    In Amy Poehkers book she has a phrase, Good for you not for me. Good for me, not for you. This is the same- it’s so true and so wise! And good branding, because no matter what time you do things you want great skin! xAllie
    http://www.theallthatglittersblog.com

  5. Julie says:

    Yes to ALL of this. As someone who decided long ago that having biological children wasn’t for her – and who knows, maybe not having any children at all, especially right now – I’ve dealt with my fair share of family and friend pressure. (My mother-in-law asked when I was going to have kids on the day she met me – I was 19). I love that these conversations are beginning to open up more and that people are starting to understand that not everyone wants kids or wants to get married.

    • Jessica says:

      Couldn’t agree more. I think the more we talk about it the more “normal” it feels. At the end of the day it’s about personal happiness, and whatever that means for you, not what everybody else thinks that should look like. xx

  6. Jennifer says:

    Love this! Thank for writing such a refreshing piece. Living in Texas where everyone gets married right after college, the societal pressure is so real (and annoying). It is nice to know there are other women out there making the best choices for them, no matter age.

    • Jessica says:

      I can imagine that’s difficult but I promise you there are tons of women making choices that best suit their lives and not the expectations of others. xx

  7. Kate says:

    Thanks for this! As a married 43 yr old without kids, the questions have only now begun to die down, but for the 4 years that my now husband and I were dating, and for the first couple of years after that, it was BRUTAL. Now, the people who know and love us, respect our decision not to have children, but probably only because they figure it’s too late now. and the people who don’t know us well either assume we couldn’t have them, or that we DO, but they’re just off at boarding school or something! lol. Having a social life when you’re in your 40’s without young kids takes a bit of finesse, but I am finding that more and more people I meet are child-free, and with more people like you opening up a new dialogue, it gets easier and easier. So again, thank you!

    • Jessica says:

      Haha. Yeah I can only imagine, it never really gets easier to answer those questions, but I do think it’s great that we can have these conversations. A nice reminder that there are a lot of us that feel the same way and deal with the same stuff.

  8. Claire says:

    This post is so relatable, I’m only 23 but yet I feel all the pressure, all the time!
    I’m looking forward to watching the small film as well. 🙂

    Claire | rose-tinted.com

  9. Alicia says:

    Thank you so much for this post! Although we are getting married, my fiancé and I have decided we don’t want children. People are never afraid to tell us not only that we are selfish, but that our lives will be unfulfilled and we won’t be as happy without children. I always feel so insulted as if my only chance at happiness or my only purpose in life is to procreate! I think you put it perfectly where you said we can “decide how to define happiness”. Thank you for always being so open and honest on your blog!

  10. Aimee says:

    Thanks for this Jess!
    I’m only 21 which I know is still young but I do know that I want to get married one day thats something I’ve always wanted. But I don’t know if I want to have children.. I know that might change as I get older but at this point I think If I go through my life and have a great relationship with someone I love and we never have kids I would be okay with that.

  11. Jen Kessler says:

    I had a funny sort of opposite experience. I had my first kid when I was 27 and when I started working at a new job someone actually asked me if that was an accident. Like, 27 was too young! Most people in that office were in the 30s when they started having kids so it was funny to feel like on the other side of that.

  12. Such a great post! Thanks for sharing
    xx
    Mademoiselle Coconath
    http://mllecoconath.com

  13. Carrie says:

    I don’t know if I don’t want kids or if the more people ask me if I’m going to have kids the more I don’t want them? Celebrating 10 years un-wed this year! 😍

  14. Sydney says:

    This is such a great post, and one that I really needed. My boyfriend and I are coming up on your 6 year anniversary, and with all my friends starting to get married, I’ve been feeling pressure from everyone on when I was “finally” going to get engaged. I’ve never had the itch to get married, and I’m more of a “if it happens, cool, if it doesn’t, we still love each other just the same” type of person. I keep having people ask me how long we’ve been together, and when they hear six years, they automatically ask why I’m not married yet, and either a) assume I don’t love him as much as I think I do (which is obviously super insulting because me not wanting to get married doesn’t mean I love someone any less) or b) assume he’s too afraid/cheap/etc. to do it. It’s been disheartening, but reading this post reminded me that I’m my own person as well, and if I don’t feel like getting married, then I damn well won’t! Those people can suck it. Power to you, girl.

    • Jessica says:

      Absolutely Sydney, be proud for standing by your choices and following your own path the happiness, whatever that means to you. It’s different for everyone and that’s ok!

  15. Julia Burns says:

    I am with you 1000%. A world with everyone fitting a cookie cutter mold is pointless. Honestly, most of the people making comments like “one day it will be you,” or sharing their criticism of a woman’s reproductive preferences are simply not enlightened enough to grasp that there are SO many paths to happiness and fulfillment. And all are valid. I see the same types of reactions when people take a more nonconventional path in life generally- whether it’s opting out of typical consumerism, unecessary debt, eschewing our cultutre’s beauty standards, or the work a traditional job your whole life/buy a house/retire at 65 if you’re lucky scenario. With the case of women living and aging, this just gets more intense because of the pervasive idea perpetuated by patriarchal history and culture that it is acceptable for media and strangers to weigh in on any of a women’s choices in life, not to mention her appearance, weight, sexuality, etc.
    I love the perspective you offer on this issue and appreciate the sentiment of the video. The only part that I find a bit difficult is that so many of SK-II product are marketed as anti aging, and the billions of dollars industry that women buy into to try to slow the clock. I wish the messaging of the skin care industry was more about “being kind to your skin and taking care of your body and face so you can be the most radiant version of yourself throughout every phase of your life.” Or something like that! Okay I went off on a tangent 😆🙈.. And I do think things are changing, and some brands are starting to share that type of sentiment, which is great. Anyway, great post, keep up the good work.

  16. Amanda says:

    I have chosen to not have kids and stand by that decision as a sound one. I agree that woman are far too pressured in life mostly by other women. Sometimes I think its out of jealousy. I have observed the ones who are the most miserable are the ones who give the most pressure for you to become like them—you know misery loves company. Follow your heart and dance to your own tune. Life is happier that way.

  17. Vanessa says:

    I’m so glad you posted this. I just turned 36 last week and if I counted on my hands how many times someone’s questioned me about why I’m not married and why I don’t have kids yet, I’d run out of fingers and hands. And it’s not just women who do this to other women, it’s men too. Men always ask me what I’m waiting for. Like, really?

    Like you, I have no desire to marry or have children and that’s okay. Life is short and you should be able to live it the way you want to.

  18. Abby says:

    Thank you so much for writing this post! Everyone in my extended family is constantly asking me when my boyfriend and I are getting married and it gets super old answering that question all the time and explaining why it doesn’t bother me that there won’t be a wedding anytime soon. We would rather spend money on travel and experiences right now and that’s what works for us. I also sometimes feel like I’m weird for not having a strong desire to have kids – but that shit is scary and a huge life change! Thank you for making me feel like I’m not alone. : )

    • Jessica says:

      Haha I could not agree more on every level Abby. Just know you are most certainly not alone! Thanks for sharing xx

  19. Erin B. says:

    What a lovely reminder-that we women should live our life as we see fit. I happened to get married and have one daughter (2) and I get asked CONSTANTLY when I will have a second baby. I genuinely think people mean well and it seems like an easy conversation started but internally if is infuriating. Who says I want another baby? Who says we haven’t been trying? Who says I’m not so grateful for the one healthy baby I already have and I’m still getting used to her so I haven’t even considered expanding my family? I’m in my 30s so of course I’m also reminded of my age. But rest assured world, I have a lot of living left to do! As quick or as slow as I’d prefer 🙂 thank you for supporting such great beliefs for women.

    • Jessica says:

      Thank you so much for sharing Erin. I never even thought about that perspective but I can see how that would be an all too common question and expectation for mothers. I love your attitude about all of it. xx

  20. Taylor says:

    YES. YES. YES. I get the marriage-and-babies question from friends and family all the time, especially as I creep closer to 30 – I’m from the South so it started a lot earlier for me than maybe for some others haha. I know they are all well meaning (or at least I like to hope so) but honestly, whose business is it anyway?

    I’m also sometimes frustrated by the fact that my (male) partner NEVER gets asked this. He gets asked about grad school, his next career move, travelling, etc. and I find myself wondering why those things aren’t automatically seen as potential goals for women too?

    • Jessica says:

      Such an interesting point Taylor, never really thought about it from that perspective. Interesting how gender can dictate expectations of success. Thanks for sharing this.

  21. Lexi Brenner says:

    Okay, I will start by saying I am at the ripe old age of being 47.999. I never babysat when I was a teenager, and wasn’t really excited about babies. I thought I wanted kids, but never really felt the call of motherhood. So when I turned 34, I thought well I better do it if I want them. I think I definitely felt I should but wasn’t adverse to being a mom. I had never changed a diaper and now have three boys (13, 11,7) and never would have known how much I ADORE being a mom. It’s f-ing hard, like HARD, but I wish I had them earlier so I could have had more. It’s just weird that I would have never known. Everyone has their own path in life, you just have to trust your own journey as it was meant to be. 🙂

    • Jessica says:

      Could not agree more, everyone’s path in life is different, and as someone who was a nanny for four kids through high school and college, I have a pretty good idea of how hard it is, it is no joke. I have so much respect for Moms. Thanks for sharing Lexi.

  22. Keri says:

    I relate on every level of this, at 33. My other half and I were together almost 9yrs before recently getting married. Marriage wasnt a “goal” for me ever, and hated to do it any other way than making it a vacation and intimate party with only close friends and family. I also dont think the desire for kids will ever come, and I struggle not to feel left out of the events my friends do for their kids, inviting only those with children. Im never asked if I want children, only WHEN, and warnings of why I should start soon. And when Im changing my last name….because, well, Im not! Haha. Thank you for this post!

    • Jessica says:

      Haha, you go girl. Funny how many things are just mere expectations. I think as we continue to make our own choices maybe some of these will start to change. xx

  23. Caitlin says:

    Hey,
    Just wanted to add some of my own experience with this on here. I bought my first home (by myself!) at 28, but honestly no one ever seemed to think that was enough (except my family). Everyone at work would constantly ask me if I had a boyfriend, or didn’t I want to get married, or wasn’t I hoping to have a baby, and that I was getting older I should be doing those things. When all of my friends got married and started having kids, I felt so behind. It always seemed like those were the only true measures of a successful life. But as I have gotten a bit older, I do feel really proud I was able to work hard and buy that house. I was the first of my friends to do it, and it was so overlooked by a lot of people. I wish I had let my younger self enjoy that fact instead of getting so wrapped up with what other people thought.

    It is SO hard to meet the right person, and it isn’t always someone’s choice to be single. I wish people would stop putting so much pressure on singles, when not everyone has the full story.

    Thanks! Loved this post and your thoughts on this topic.

    • Jessica says:

      Wow, first of all I am SO impressed with you Caitlin. That is a MAJOR accomplishment and you should be so proud of that. Thank you for sharing your experience, it’s so important to know we’re not alone in feeling the pressures to meet certain expectations, but it’s also ok to do things on our own timeline. I totally agree there is an unfair pressure on people that are single, slightly different experience but as an unmarried couple Craig and I constantly get asked why we aren’t married and when we plan to. There’s so much pressure around being coupled and then once you’re with someone getting married. Ultimately I think doing the things that make you happy and being a good person are more important than anything else. xx Jess

  24. Brooke White says:

    This is such an important topic. Having been raised in a super conservative/highly religious family, my parents can’t understand why my bf and I have been together 5 years, live together, have traveled the world together and still aren’t married. thankfully they’ve stopped asking when we’re getting married but it’s always kind of an unspoken question. anyways, thanks for sharing this

  25. Sophia says:

    I so needed to read this. Sometimes I feel like I’m the only one in my age not feeling the urge to have kids (I’m 29 now) and everyone near me pat me on the back and say “just wait and see, you’ll change your mind” or they give me this concerned look and be like “you can’t wait forver, youre not 25 anymore”. I get really offended and angry. It’s like my opinion doesn’t matter at all! And it’s not just people close to me. In the whole society it feels like my worth as a woman is only defined by the amount of children I’m able to squeeze out. Like if you’ll have a couple of kids, only then are you worthy to call yourself “a REAL woman” who have done her part. I think women should be able to fulfill their lives in whatever way we feel like, without being questioned. I LOVE my life as it is now, my boyfriend and I have a small farm together with dogs and horses and I don’t ever feel like theres something missing-Especially not kids! I will probably never feel like being a mother. It’s not who I am. And I wish some day that the people close to me will accept my life choices.

    And Jess? Keep up the good work! Love your site and your beutiful instagram❤

  26. Deb says:

    Hi Jess – I just randomly stumbled upon this post and I love it! I’m a 50 year old Mom of a 19 year old daughter, and I can already see this happening to her. “Do you have a boyfriend?” being the question du jour at the moment. And she doesn’t (although she would enjoy meeting someone) which makes her feel even worse. I will share this with her. Such a great message. I make a point never to ask a couple/person when they are getting married, when they are buying a house, when they are having kids, etc. as honestly no matter what the answer is someone will have an opinion!