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I had this list of things I wanted to do before I turn thirty. I came to the shocking realisation that I approached this big number a lot quicker than I was hoping and more than half of my list hasn’t been ticked off yet. For a split second or two, I felt panic creeping up on me. Is it too late now? Am I too old to jump off a cliff, dive with whale sharks and trek to Everest Base Camp?
This year’s birthday is a little bit different for more reasons than just the fact that there’d be no birthday party or hugs from friends due to the current situation. It is 09:42 P.M. on 22 June 2020 and this evening officially marks the much-feared »death of my youth«. Technically, I am still in my twenties – at least for another 2 hours and 18 minutes. Why is it that everyone around me seems to expect me to be terrified of turning 30? Is it really such a big deal and/or benchmark of success? Or are we all just overreacting?
Turning 30. What’s all the fuss about?
Somehow there is this expectation out there that we all have to freak out when this dreadful day looms closer.
None of my friends who turned 30 before me told me that their lives had changed drastically that day or that they turned grey and wrinkly overnight. However, the classic angst of approaching one’s 30th birthday is omnipresent.
There is a song by British singer and songwriter, Lily Allen, called 22 where she sings about a woman approaching her thirties. The lyrics are:
»It’s sad but it’s true that society says her life is already over, there’s nothing to do and there’s nothing to say.«
I have to admit, there is certain feeling of pressure, but only because society places it upon us. My Facebook feed is basically filled with engagement announcements, wedding celebrations or cute baby pictures. If you are 30 and haven’t »settled down yet«, i.e. bought a house, built a family or at least got married, people automatically have a certain opinion of you and you constantly need to justify your way of life. »Don’t you think it’s time darling?« »Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.« I prefer to define my personal happiness through other things than a career or a house.
However, I’m still having a bit of a hard time realising it. THIRTY. 3-0. It sounds scary. Like you’re standing with one foot in the grave already. In your late teens, thirty sounds at least as far away as retirement. I remember being nineteen and thinking that 30-year-olds are basically done with their lives and turning thirty equates to the instant death of youth. By thirty, you need to have your shit together they say. Well, I am proud to say I don’t. I still can’t decide if I want a dog, a child, both, or neither.
Looking back on a decade of trial & error
Our golden twenties are considered as the most transformative years of our lives. The past decade was one of personal growth. Full of big changes. Friends lost, friends won. Tons of adventures all over the word. A rollercoaster of emotions. You’re still kind of figuring out who you are and what you want in life. You make mistakes and basically see everything as trial and error.
In my early twenties, going on parties every weekend was essential. In my late twenties, I enjoy being at home doing yoga, having dinner parties and spending quality time with my partner, family and friends. As I approached the end of my twenties, things just clicked for me – personally and professionally.
Why turning 30 is actually quite exciting
While I was busy mourning the death of my glorious youth, I completely overlooked the fact that my life has actually gotten quite amazing as I slowly approached the big number. (Okay, I admit that the days where I could drink whatever I want without suffering from a terrible hangover the next day are long gone.)
1. You’re entering a new decade
By reaching the dreadful 30, you’ve seen and done things and worn things you definitely wish you hadn’t. My outlook on life is a lot more realistic than it used to be ten years ago. The last year of my twenties was a huge turning point. I said goodbye to my life in Munich and moved to London to start a new chapter with the man I love. I couldn’t imagine a better way to step into this exciting new decade in another country.
2. You get extremely excited once someone asks for your ID when purchasing alcohol.
Do you remember the time when you felt offended being asked for your ID à la »Excuse me? Do I look like I’m 17?« (When in fact you were only 18 and probably looked like you could as well be 16). These days I feel a little bit disappointed when I purchase a bottle of wine, take out my ID and the cashier doesn’t even want to see it because apparently, I look old enough to drink now. Meh.
3. You discover that you don’t have to stick to rules and that’s okay.
You can make your own decisions and needn’t justify yourself. You learned how to say no without feeling bad about it.
4. What matters most are not possessions but the people in your life
You distanced yourself from toxic people in your life and know what really matters. Your partner, family and real friends – not the friends you casually go out partying with and who will stab you in the back one day. You know who you can count on and they know they can count on you too. Your nice car or Chanel bag won’t be there to console you when you’re going through a rough time.
5. You’re one decade closer to retirement!
Let’s do some »we shouldn’t be doing this« things
Finally, I can proudly say that nothing has changed. I don’t feel a wee bit older than I did yesterday, nor do I feel more grown up yet. I’m still the same person. Okay, maybe with a few extra laugh lines in my face. But that’s okay because it means I’m happy with what I became.
I guess the worst part about turning 30 is the time that leads up to it and it’s absolutely terrifying. But let’s blame society for this. No one should be telling you how to live your life only to meet their expectations.
Numbers don’t dicate who we are, but at the same time I know for a fact that when I turn 35 in 5 years’ time, I’ll be looking back and be like »oh my word, I wish I was thirty again!«.
So come on friends, let’s do some »we shouldn’t be doing this« things!