30 continues to be the benchmark for when you apparently have your general life shizz together, and we only have to hope this concept dies a slow and unremarkable death at some point.
Not least of which it is a redundant concept, a benchmark coined at a time when most people popped their clogs by 60 and so needed to have their life sorted (whatever that means), and also because people are increasingly living longer. Case in point 116-year-old legend Susannah who attributes her long life to bacon and 104-year-old Agnes to her daily ‘shot of booze’ at 5pm.
If you’re on the cusp of 30, and people are telling you to keep calm while inside your head is a monkey clashing cymbals together chanting ‘you’re running out of time’, here is my list for the good things about being in your 30s.
This blog came as a request from Caroline on Instagram who said she was fed up with the negative rhetoric about it and wanted to know the positive things before she turns 30 this October.
You realise that life is not as linear as you thought it was and that’s a good thing
If you have a list of the things you thought you would accomplish by the time you were 30, write a new list. Better yet, burn the list.
Life does not operate to lists – sorry, but it just doesn’t. All it does is pin you in place making you scared to make bold and different choices, or renders you unprepared when bad things do happen. Some people learn this the hard way, some people just stop assigning ages to things and are surprised at the amount of pressure this releases.
Marriage seems to be a big one on the list because it’s assumed that once you hit this decade, no one will want to marry you apart from guys who look like the ugly rich dude in Dirty Dancing.
If you’re married by this age, great for you! You get even more time to spend with your soulmate. And if you’re not, then seriously, who gives a crap? The reason you’re feeling bad is because everyone around you is having an Instagram-perfect wedding.
Surely the goal should be meeting someone who treats you decently and who you like spending time with. Because trust me – no one likes to talk about it, but with half of my cousins on their second marriages, marriage is not the rescue to anyone’s sadness or loneliness.
It heralds the wonderful age of zero fucks
There are times when I wistfully think about my 20s and then I remember what a shrivelled, insecure, needy wreck I was. I sought validation in all the wrong places: work colleagues, bad boyfriends, toxic mates.
And this is the wonderful thing about your 30s, whether it’s the benefit of just being that little bit older and more experienced, you just start to give less of a shit. Now that I am in the latter half of my 30s, I can definitely vouch for that increasing through the decade.
You grow up a lot around the realities of friendships especially, and some may never be as intense or gorgeously wolf-pack-like again, but you learn the balance between what you need for yourself, and what you are willing to give of yourself.
Your career gets better
Unless you’re a child actor or an ex-Eastenders star, generally your career can only go upwards in your 30s. The 20s are all about the sardine run, proving yourself and having to do so alongside so many other people.
But, if you have a strong work ethic and you actually value being good at your job, your career from here on goes from strength to strength. You realise that it’s less about perception of others and more about quality and value.
I don’t know that you ever quite get over looking at what your peers are doing and getting jealous/freaked out, but it becomes less a rat race because you realise that no matter how glittery a person’s life seems to be, they are going through the same life shit as everyone else.
Losing weight gets harder but your body gets healthier
It’s not as if the day after turning 30, your body collapses into a souffle. And realistically I can only say this from my experience and my friends, but in my 20s, I honestly didn’t give a shit about keeping fit. KFC was my go-to meal on a hangover, and there were a lot of hangovers because I drank a lot.
I was probably skinnier in my 20s, but literally I was like a Pepperami filled with waste.
The downside of being older is that it does get harder to lose weight, and you definitely show what you eat a lot quicker, but you’re also way more invested in your health and your body. It becomes less about being skinny and more about ‘hey I’d like to eat healthily because I quite like living and therefore I’d like to live as long as possible.’
Figuring out that connection between your body and your brain is a hard one, but so rewarding. I know that what I eat impacts my sleep, how healthy I look, how much energy I have and frankly, I’d rather get shit done.
I spent most of my 20s moaning about how hungover I was and for what? I am the most productive I have ever been and that’s because I made an active choice about my lifestyle. I mean, all of us feel terrible from time to time, but I’d rather it wasn’t because of something I directly did to my body and that lightbulb moment is priceless.
Your life choices are no one’s but yours
There have been plenty of times when I relied on my parents to bail me out, or I blamed being unhappy at work on the necessity of working, or I agreed to do something like go to a wedding or a kid’s bday party I didn’t want to because I felt obligated.
Call it the morbidity of experiencing grief and death, but your 30s makes you realise just how much of a choice you actually have in your life. If your life isn’t what you want it to be, you have to start asking the questions and making the choices required to change that. It doesn’t happen overnight – and, you have to stop wanting change to be immediate and easy – but quite honestly, this is the most content I have ever been.
That doesn’t mean I don’t have wobbles, or I don’t worry, or I sit on a cloud in a state of calm. But all of the work that begins in your 30s is about building something solid, something of value within yourself, so that when the storms come (and they will), you’ll be like that cosy, well-lit house on the hill, able to weather anything.
And if that isn’t something to look forward to, I don’t know what is.