How I’m really feeling about turning 30

Time is ticking down faster and faster until I turn 30 and it’s been occupying my mind more than I care to admit. Conversations with other people about it have inevitably been a mix of laughing it off because thirty is still really young, gently making you feel worse about turning older (“well you’re already in your thirtieth year”) or a similar level of freak-out. However a conversation with a friend recently helped me realise that I’ve just got lots of thoughts on different things at the moment, and somehow I’ve just wrapped them all up in changing age.

Older, but not necessarily wiser

For some reason, your thirtieth birthday feels like a big deal. It has felt like the most momentous birthday since turning 18. People ask you what you’re going to do to celebrate, and how you feel about it, when the last eleven birthdays have sort of slipped away unnoticed. Part of that is the change of decade – it sounds a lot older! It seems like adulthood proper, rather than the pretend version you’ve perhaps been doing in your twenties. That doesn’t particularly bother me – in some ways I’ve been middle-aged since I was a teenager, and I know I’ve done a lot in my twenties that I’ve enjoyed. Depending on what day you ask me, I’ve also got a better (although not complete) handle on who I am and what I enjoy. I spoke to a younger friend recently who was convinced your thirties are so much better for that exact reason – still in her early twenties she felt like she was still figuring it all out.

I’ve become more aware of my age physically this year. Apparently your muscles are strongest at 25, and the best age for running a marathon is 28 – whilst there are plenty of people older than me who are much fitter, I’ve started to think more about how I look after my body. Suddenly toning up felt like it had more of a time limit, rather than something I’d think about next month. Both my husband and I have also had a few injuries this year which have taken time to recover from, which just felt like another reminder of aging.

Definitely feeling the years since I completed the Bristol 10K!

I think my biggest reflection is that there are an awful lot of life choices open right now. I’m very privileged to be in that position, but it doesn’t make it any easier deciding which path to go down. Should I be settling down further and buying a house and a dog? Should I be making the most of my youth and travelling more whilst relatively responsibility free? Should I be trying a career change whilst I’ve still got lots of working years ahead of me? I’ve watched different people I know go down each one of these pathways, and watching from afar doesn’t make the decisions any easier. Particularly not when at the back of my mind is a little voice reminding me that if I ever want children I need to have given it serious thought within the next five years, and so that has to factor into all this decision making somewhere.

Those are a lot of big things, that aren’t necessarily related to turning 30, but somehow I’ve connected them all to my next birthday. No wonder it feels a little daunting!

My incomplete 30 before 30 list

Someone at work was recently talking about their 30 before 30 list and it made me consider my own. I’m familiar with the concept having read quite a few by bloggers I followed, and so I started a search for my own which I knew I’d started when I was 23. I can remember writing it out in a restaurant whilst we were travelling in New Zealand, feeling very much like the world was at our feet. Turns out I never actually finished the list, and reading it back now it was so interesting to see what I thought my priorities were going to be.

So what did make it onto the list and how have I fared with it all?

  • Go Skiing – still never been but would love to try. I’m going to blame COVID for this one not happening
  • Go to Ireland – I’d still like to go, not sure why I needed to do it before 30 though
  • Climb Snowdon – completed, and this very quickly morphed into all three peaks which we completed this year
  • Earn over £X – I smashed this one. Turns out 23 year old me wasn’t very ambitious
  • Go snorkeling in a tropical sea I’m not even sure this would be a top entry on my bucket list. I’m assuming this was influenced by snorkeling off the very non-tropical coast of New Zealand’s North Island.
  • Visit Stockholm – I’d still like to go at some point
  • Visit Family in South Africa sadly hasn’t happened, but if travel becomes a big part of my next decade who knows
  • Live in a foreign country – a pathway I’m very much still debating. This is where I feel COVID stole some time.
  • See Northern Lights – I feel like this is more a bucket list entry than something which needs to happen before I’m 30.
  • See a whale – seen several, and in two different hemispheres (now I’m bragging).
  • Go to a festival – I think I must have thought this was just something everyone did in their twenties. As someone who isn’t a huge music fan, and doesn’t like drunk people, I’m not sure why this features.
  • Go camping – it’s a matter of interpretation about whether I’ve completed this one… does glamping count?
  • Attend or host a murder mystery – maybe this is what I should do to celebrate my thirtieth birthday? No idea why this made the cut.
  • Go to Disneyland – I’d like to, but there are many more places I’d prioritise.
  • See Harry Potter World – again, I wouldn’t say no but not sure why this trumped other places.
  • Own a house (or be getting there) – gave myself a get-out clause there. I’m firmly putting myself in the vague getting there category.
  • Hot Air Balloon flight – probably something I thought was a pipedream but I have actually done it, and what a great experience it was.
  • Swimming with dolphins – completed very shortly after writing this list, and such a wonderful memory.

Travel, unsurprisingly, was a key feature. But not the places I would have expected, and obviously COVID put all travel on the back-burner for a while. A dog, the thing I talk about wanting more than anything else and have done for a number of years, doesn’t make an appearance. And there’s so much I have done which was never on the list (although I think I’ll save that for another post). It just goes to show how much your priorities can change in such a short span of time.

What I’m looking forward to about turning 30

I realise that a lot of this could sound really negative, so I’m keen to end on a bit of a positive spin with some of the things I’m looking forward to.

  • Feeling like less of a fraud when my younger colleagues mention something I have no clue about, or just generally feeling a lot older than them. I’m allowed – I’ll be in a separate decade!
  • Friendships mean more. In your early twenties you’re often still trying to fit in, whereas you’ve found your place once you’re older.
  • I’ve got slowly more confident and self-assured through my twenties. I can only imagine that continues.
  • It’s sad but true that people generally take you a bit more seriously when you’re older.
  • Women apparently reach their peak salary at age 39 – something to look forward to.
  • I know in ten years time I’ll read this back and laugh, just like I would have done if I’d written something along these lines ten years ago.

What are your thoughts on changing age? How did/do you feel about thirty?

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