This past weekend I celebrated my 30th birthday and to be completely honest, the anticipation of this day was way worse than the actual reality of it. In fact, unless I think about it or have to tell someone my age (which I haven’t had to do yet, and might end up lying about anyways) it doesn’t feel that much different than 29. I can’t help wondering if over the next few days I might wake up and be hit by some sort of sad, depressing reality where my wrinkles suddenly get deeper, gravity becomes my butt’s worst enemy and I realize that I am not “where I should be” in terms of “life goals.” But what if that doesn’t happen? What if after 30 everything is really OK? What happens if I am actually happy here?
Turning 30 is a strange thing and for some reason it’s the first birthday, for me anyways, where people explicitly point out that you are now “old,” as if I should be aware of this fact, mourn my youth and then face reality because let’s face it, “it’s all downhill from here,” or so they say. But what if we could change this, shift our perspective and see 30 for what it really is – a positive milestone in our life, a turning point, or just another number. What if we recognize that our society tends to celebrate youth while negating the aging process, seeing it as something we should cover up, erase or even try to stop? What if we were able to celebrate and be happy with the “best possible version of ourselves, outside and in, at any age”(Berest, Diwan, de Maigret and mas)?
So why is 30 so bad? Well, having just passed this mighty milestone I am going to try to explain based on my own experiences why this one seems to hit us so hard.
The Anticipation is Way Worse than the Reality
The anticipation of 30 is way worse than the reality. The year leading up to my 30th birthday was much worse than the actual day or next few days following. Even though I was in the exact same boat as almost all of my friends, the fact that this birthday was coming seemed so daunting. I felt like I had to mentally prepare for it either by quickly accomplishing a few outstanding life goals or coming to terms with the fact that they might not happen before this dreaded deadline. With a toddler and a new baby on the way I honestly did not have a lot of time to worry or think about it too much, but when it came up in conversation or I thought about it, there was a small sense of dread associated with leaving my 20’s and I held on to 29 for dear life. For some reason the idea of not being “in my 20’s” anymore seemed scary. Like the end of an era or the beginning of “serious” adulthood. Which seems so funny because I’ve been “adulting” (in some way shape or form) for a while now.
Meeting the “Before I’m 30” Deadline
If life has a series of due dates, this one seems to be the biggest one so far. I don’t know how this started or why so many of us think we need to reach our “full potential” by or before 30, but for some reason this is a “thing.” We celebrate the accomplishments of those under 30, emphasizing the fact that if we haven’t reached our “potential” by then we should probably give up. The hardest part about this, once again, is the anticipation. I have to be in this “place” by 30 or I need to have accomplished these things by the time I’m 30. The funny part about this is that it kind of changes once you reach the deadline. You realize that you are not going to “fail at life” if you haven’t reached these fictitious deadlines. Instead, you begin to shift your focus and pay more attention to your accomplishments rather than your failures, because let’s be honest it’s too late to be mad and we kind of need to spend more time happy where we are. And, if I’ve learned anything over the past year on this blogging journey is that it’s never too late to live out your dreams.
We Always Want More!
I think it’s fairly safe to say that we are obsessed with attaining things, goals, material items – you name it, we need to have it. So when it comes to turning 30, so many of us have become fixated on what we don’t have. I don’t have my “dream home” yet or I haven’t landed the perfect job. Again the focus tends to be negative when it comes to turning 30. So instead I am going to invite us millennials to try to see things differently; to try and bloom where we are planted and celebrate our successes. Love the life we have and be happy with how far we’ve come.
30 is Not So Bad! In Fact, It’s Happy Here!
While the view on aging and turning 30 tends to come with some seriously heavy baggage, there are many people who are incredibly happy and satisfied in their 30’s. In fact, I think it’s kinda cozy here. What I mean by that is for some of us we are finally getting to know ourselves; we are over that hump of “figuring things out” and trying to decide who we really are. I gained a bit of confidence through my 20’s and am finally starting to actually feel comfortable in my own skin. I know what I like and what I don’t like, it’s not really too much of a toss-up anymore and I am totally ok with “missing out,” – that fear is kind of gone because I don’t need to do everything.
At the risk of sounding philosophical, or something like that, I am going to point out that aging is something we’ve kind of “invented”. Yes, I realize that there are obvious biological things happening to us as we “get older” but in all honesty our perspective on the process is all based on outside influences; the society we live in and the people we surround ourselves with. And, while we can’t exactly change all of those things, we can change how we view this process. We can be happy here; we can celebrate who we’ve become, what we’ve done and what is still to come.
So for all of us who’ve just crossed over to “the bright side”, let’s change the dialogue of “dread,” stop counting candles, worrying about wrinkles and celebrate the best possible version of ourselves at this age!
What are some of the positive things you are/ were happy about in your 30’s?
- Quote from one of my favourite reads, How to be Parisian Wherever you are. Checkout my review of this book here!