As such a huge milestone in a person’s life, a women’s life, my life, I thought I’d be more worried. I thought I’d be panicking about what had and hadn’t been achieved, manically trying to fit things in and make things happen. I guess, I thought I’d feel different.
Truth is, I think I panicked more regarding my 29th birthday. 29 for me was the wobbly age, the age I didn’t really feel like I fitted in that ‘twenties’ bracket anymore but perhaps wasn’t quite together enough to be reaching 30. I shyed away from my age and my birthday when it hit, refusing to celebrate and spending the day working from home on my own and feeling depressed. Presents suddenly became practical rather than frivolous and I truly felt that pang of; this is it, it’s all down hill from here. I questioned my sense of style – can I still wear bright pink? Are my knees too knobbly for a mini? Should I have a capsule wardrobe? When will I feel chic? – I panicked over the stage of my career – why aren’t I as far ahead as others younger than me? Shouldn’t my freelance business be more complete by now? Why don’t I still know exactly where I want my career to take me? – and I worried endlessly about my private life – when is the right time to get married? What if I leave it too late to have kids? Why aren’t I a homeowner yet? – In short, why didn’t I have all the answers?
I think everyone of us goes through this phase at some point in our lives, where we feel like our real life hasn’t quite caught up to the life we’ve been imagining in our head since we were old enough to begin imagining. Sometimes I don’t feel like the 30 year old person my 16 year old self envisioned (I had this picture of a well put together business woman pounding the streets of New York City with my designer suit and impeccable taste – I would be a fashion designer or editor of a hot shot magazine – and I’d be achingly cool without even trying. Yup, not quite there) but in other ways when I think back to who I was as that 16 year old self, I know that I am far nearer this age and that vision than I give myself credit for.
There was a time in my mid twenties, when those 23rd, 24th and 25th birthdays hit that I used to say I wished I could stick at 21. 21 was the golden age for that era of being me. I was still living that same 21 year old life – having fun, enjoying London’s nightlife, free of responsibilities, living hand to mouth – so it made sense that that was the age I longed for. But now? Me at 21 seems such a world away from the person I am today that actually when I’m really honest with myself, being 30 now seems like a much better prospect than being 21. Thinking back to my early twenties, yes life was fun and frivolous and carefree, but it also lacked stability. I was jumping from internship to internship, not knowing what I wanted to do with my life, I had no confidence and was a constant worrier. I never felt up to the job, never had faith in myself and always felt out of place in any given situation. I was trying to carve my own path in a big scary world and most of the time felt like a fish out of water with no clear vision for the future. All of that was perfectly fine at the time, because none of us did and that was ok. I lived for the moment and thought about the immediate. I didn’t need to make long term plans or consider what might be and I didn’t want to.
I guess a decade really is a lot longer length of time than we pass it off as, as there is no part of my current person that longs for that carefree, responsibility free lifestyle anymore. I can’t think of anything worse than partying every single weekend and I enjoy the fact that my life now has more stability. I like that I am more confident in myself and my abilities, I want to save money and I enjoy thinking about the future. Stability (albeit with plenty of fun thrown in) seems like the long term goal. Even if I don’t have a steady 9-5 job or a regular income, I have reached a point in my life where I can say that there is a line of work out there (actually more than one) that I can capably do. I can talk about things with confidence and know that I am not out of my depth and there are aspects of life that I am knowledgeable about, all of which is a rather nice feeling after years of self doubt. I might not own a home, be married (yet) or have any children but as I approach this milestone in my life I feel as if, yes I am supposed to be here.
I’m ready to be 30. To be in my thirties and everything that comes with that decade. To reach this stage in my life and become that more mature version of myself that at 29 I didn’t feel quite worthy of. This year there will be no shying away, no hiding behind my age and definitely no lack of celebrating. I’m ready to shout it from the rooftops and celebrate all month long. I’ll take both the practical and the frivolous presents thanks, and don’t ever think I’m going to stop craving a pair of ridiculously pretty heels. I’m planning to don head to toe pink with confidence, and get those knobbly knees out without question. I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’ll never be chic and I’m ok not having a capsule wardrobe. I know that my career will take me in many different directions as life goes on and that I should be proud of the stage I’ve reached without comparing myself to others. And as for my personal life? I’m happy and that’s all that matters. Age doesn’t and shouldn’t stop us from achieving the things we want to achieve and any rules which say that certain posts have to be hit by certain ages, or equally certain ages are too old to be hitting certain posts, are rules we shouldn’t be following anyway.
Because I’ve realised that the passing of time does not stop me being me. I don’t think we ever feel different when we reach a new age, because we will always be the same person. Our goals and desires might change, our idea of a perfect Saturday night might change and our sense of style might change, but that which makes us, us, never changes. I think we’ll always feel like that same person we were at 16, 18, 21, just a little, well… older.
And if I’ve learned anything it’s that the one thing we can’t stop is time. Time will always move on but the great thing is that life moves with it. It doesn’t stop when you reach a certain age or restart when you become ‘too old’. So I haven’t set myself any ’30 before I’m 30′ challenges (bit late if I had!), and I’m no longer panicking about where I should be. I’m simply enjoying where I am, setting challenges for 30 and beyond, and looking forward to the future.
I didn’t really know where I was going with this post when I sat down to write it, but sometimes a unplanned ramble is as good a reason as any for a blog post right? So here’s to my thirties and all they might bring – anyone else approaching a milestone birthday?