I am now 30.
It’s hard to believe (especially looking at the photo below. I don’t think I look a day over…um…two.)
I’d like to say that I’ve dealt with the start of a new decade with style, grace and general good humour, but that would be a lie.
My online search history since about mid-June has mainly consisted of:
‘Is 30 old?’
‘Are women past it at 30?’
‘Blogs about turning 30’
‘Help! Soon I will be 30.’
I was not happy. At all. At one point, I seriously considered bribing all the people who know my real date of birth. I would ask them to conveniently replace ’83 with ’85 (see, I’m not greedy. It’s just two years.) However, the list of those ‘in the know’ was longer than I thought, and I don’t have enough resources to bribe everyone!
There was no getting away from it – the start of July rolled around and I officially entered a month of 30-induced birthday blues. I don’t like birthdays at the best of times, and ‘milestone’ birthdays are a bit of a nightmare. For the past month, my (long-suffering) boyfriend has had to deal with the following comments, questions and random mutterings on an almost daily basis:
'Do you think I look old?'
'Is 30 the right age to start thinking about Botox?'
'Do you think I’m a failure?'
'I haven’t achieved anything in my life. Ever.'
'When I turn 30, are you going to leave me for a skinny blonde 20-something?'
My family and friends have had to put with similar queries (minus the whole ‘leaving me for a skinny blonde 20-something’ issue).
For me, approaching a new decade threw into sharp relief all the things that I felt I'd failed to achieve, and made it impossible to think about some of the fairly awesome stuff that has already happened to me. Fortunately, I have amazing friends and family, plus a very understanding boyfriend, who were able to point out some very useful home truths.
Yes, there are still things that I want to achieve. And that’s a good thing. How boring would it be if I hit 30 and realised that there was nothing left that I wanted to do with my life?!
Plus, there was a lot of good advice on offer and it all points to my thirties being a pretty amazing decade. According to some very wise friends, I can look forward to feeling more comfortable and confident about who I am, more certain of what I want, and more driven to achieve it. That all sounds good to me. My favorite pearls of wisdom came from one of my colleagues who, to paraphrase slightly, told me that being in your thirties is great because:
“…you just stop giving a shit about what other people think of you. In your twenties, you spend a huge amount of time worrying about what other people think. In your thirties, you stop caring. You realise that some people don’t like you and there’s nothing you can do about that. You’re more interested in working out who you are and what you think, than dwelling on whether such-and-such a person likes you.”
I really hope that this turns out to be true for me because it sounds brilliant. Looking back over my twenties I realised that I really have spent a ridiculous amount of time worrying about other people’s opinions of me. If I thought someone didn’t like me, I would do everything I could to convince them that I was lovely and that we should be friends (without stopping to ask myself if I really wanted to be friends with them anyway!). I was forever replaying conversations in my head, fretting that I had said the wrong thing, or that my comments had been misinterpreted (yes, I know I’m a worrier!). I could ruminate for weeks on a simple, throwaway comment, panicking that it had been the wrong thing to say, or that I had unintentionally caused offence.
I know it won’t be an overnight change. I’ll probably always be a bit of a worrier. But I’m going to try to be more relaxed about things. It’s quite exciting to think about all the things I could actually do (write, play my harp, actually update this blog more than once every two months!) if I spent less energy worrying about what other people are thinking, and starting spending more time on things that I actually enjoy.
Or, as my boyfriend’s mother put it:
“Your thirties are great. You’re still young, but considerably less stupid than you were in your twenties.”
So there you have it.
Here’s to not giving a shit.
Here’s to still being young, but not being stupid.
Here’s to grabbing 30 by the scruff of the neck and making the most of it.
I am now in my thirties.
I think it’s going to be a pretty awesome decade.