Great Expectations: fictional ramblings on singledom and growing older in The City – A Poem by Joyce Chung


I am 30, F and single.
The star of a Greek Tragedy titled
τικ τακ του ρολογιού , αυτή είναι η γήρανση
(Clock’s Ticking, She’s Aging.)

Act 1 or I or One:
the tumultuous early twenties (the period marked by the dash between 20-25 years of age) of
not knowing my identity and not having any of my shit together,
nights fueled by alcohol — bourbon at 10PM on a Wednesday
or tequila on the rocks with a salt brim if feeling wild
or straight up vodka (“because I’m like 24 and shots are still a good look”)

mornings spent hungover in last night’s little outfit
or vomiting in a trash can in broad daylight in TriBeCa (conveniently placed next to the brunch place where judgmental moms who have their shit together frequent)
or in the hallway of the ER because you were convinced that you were “dying” and had lovingly voiced your drunk-induced concerns to a police officer who annoyingly shoved you in the back of an ambulance that took you on a 5 minute adventure to the hôpital, that later would cost you an arm and a leg (for those who like things quantified, $1,000 and some change)

work days peppered with bathroom breaks where I sob (silently) in the stall because my Boss has a perpetual stick up his A**
and/or has a personal vendetta against me
and/or purposely wants to make my life a living hell because he himself is miserable and alone

dates that aren’t really dates at all but reminders of how
nobody could and nobody will ever love me – an extension of not knowing my identity or self-worth, and as Chbosky wrote in a literary work of art that made me bawl, “we accept the love we think we deserve”
and so it was that I accepted the kind of “love” summarized by slogans like
“Just Do It (and Never Call Her Back)” or
“I’d walk a mile for a Camel (But Not for Her)” or
“A Diamond is Forever (Longer Than This Relationship)”.

tear-stained pages in multiple diaries notated with
the serious or smart:

  • “What kind of impact do I want to make on this earth”
  • “Visions?”
  • “Dreams?”
  • “Business Ideas.”

the silly or stupid:

  • “Why do I always go for the douchebags in Finance?”

the dramatic:

  • “Woe is me. Life is so haaard”
  • “Winter in NYC is unbearable.”
  • “Summer in NYC is unbearable.”
  • “I am wrecked. I can’t believe I Let Him Get Away.”
  • “I love him.”
  • “Why won’t he love me back?”

the philosophical:

  • Circumstance vs. The Reality Framed by Your Perspective (and therefore what you believe to be true)

the Lists of To-Dos and Things I’m Grateful for Today and Today’s Lessons Learned:

  • Do: find a side hustle because the rent is too damn high (and also to fund Ubers)
  • Don’t: Call Him Back
  • Grateful for: the breath in my lungs, living in NYC, family & friends, a roof over my head etc. etc. etc. and Seamless

Lesson #4637212: be kind and humble. that is all.

Act 2 or II or Two:
the crazy or maybe traumatic or maybe spiritual or maybe lucky or maybe random experience
“The Climax”
a person or song or sunset or maybe just age (another year older)
that changes my life forever
a moment where heaven and earth collide and kiss, and wisdom and knowledge invade and intermesh
and the things I used to think and feel begin to wither
Pause. I start to have “some” of my shit together

a slow tectonic shift (the period marked by the dash between 26-30 years of age)
the things that used to be cute or fun (“shots, shots, shots, shots, shots” – LMFAO) are no longer
the boys that treated me like dirt under my shoe now leave a bad taste in my mouth
I have converted to a NAEL, not gel or shellac but “Not An Easy Lay”

I desire to be whole and true, to discover a love like the greats
to understand the jealousy of Othello because I am that in love
to heed Thoreau’s and Kondo’s advice to,“simplify, simplify”
to respond to Prufrock and actually disturb the universe

I desire to be something, create something, break barriers and glass ceilings and trap doors
to use my voice for good or on behalf of good
to usher in change and impact the sphere that I’m in
to negotiate and win and carve out a place and space for myself and others
for my life to be poetry – profound and impactful though the process may be painful
to fail and fly and fly and fail and fail and fly
and fly and fly

Act 3 or III or Three:
the year of 30

I still don’t have all my shit together
I mean, I’m 30, F and single.
in NYC, that’s completely normal (actually, “30, M and single” is normal and positive.
“He must be pursuing his career, investing in his future.”
“30, F and single”
“she must be psycho or severely flawed”
“Clock’s ticking”
“she should think about freezing her eggs”),
but people still think there’s something wrong with you
even I think there’s something wrong with me
all my friends are getting engaged, married or creating babies
and here I am single and oldish AF,
my ovaries shriveling up like a flower wrinkling over time. Did I really say this out loud? Is this Too Much Information (everyone’s thinking it though, right)?


reminder to myself:
my identity is neither rooted in my relationship status nor in someone’s pursuit (or lack thereof) of me
I’m 30, F and single. And a fucking badass
because of x, y, z blahblahblah
(Not specified because it’s not important that you know what they are.
Note that x, y, z blahblahblah has nothing to do with my age or relationship status or even my job or career, but with who I am —
I is kind I is smart I is [laugh out loud] important)

Clock’s Ticking,
I’m Aging.
Fact, but the Final Act is Still Being Written.
And I have Great Expectations for it.


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