I’m currently five days away from turning 30. Flirty dirty thirty. The big three-0. The title of Adele’s most recent album. I know that this birthday is the same as any other birthday. Nothing will change. Age is just a number. Blahblahblah. BUT STILL. This birthday will mark the end of my twenties and the beginning of a whole new decade of my life. One that I’m, if I’m honest, not sure I’m ready for.
When did this happen??
I’m feeling rather nostalgic. The past couple of years have flown by and according to literally everyone I know who’s older than me, ‘that will only get worse’. It’s not that this number scares me, it’s more the realisation that I will never be in my twenties again. That I’m closer to forty than to being a teenager now. That life is short and I’m in at least one-third of it (and unless I start living like Jane Fonda really soon I don’t think that’s in the cards for me). Okay, I don’t want this to get too dark, so let’s move on.
Most of you probably know that feeling of ‘Wait, when I was younger people who were [insert any age] looked like they had their shit together and now I’m the same age and I absolutely do NOT have my shit together. What am I doing wrong???’ I have felt that way many, many times. Sometimes I still do. In many ways I don’t feel like I have reached the level of maturity that I always thought a 30-year old would have reached. I still feel like a child sometimes. I have so much to learn. I make so many mistakes. I definitely don’t always choose the ‘mature’ way of dealing with things. And if I look at that checklist society tells me I should have completed by now, most of these boxes are very much blank.
Teenage me would be shook
If you would have asked fifteen-year-old me how she envisioned herself at thirty, the answer would have been: I will be living in London, I will have a husband and at least two children with a third on the way, I will be rich and, most importantly, thin. I will have my ducks in a row.
I do live in London. I don’t have a husband and I don’t want children. I’m stressed about money most days. I’m at my heaviest. My ducks are paddling their little feet to stay afloat. Sometimes it works and for a blissful second, they get to hang out and chill in the sun. But sometimes they’re fighting each other, or they drown (not sure if this duck metaphor is working but I’ve committed to it now).
The truth is that I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing. But what I’ve realised these past couple of years, is that this seems to be the case for most, if not all of us. Everyone is faking it. No one has a clue. We’re all just trying our best.
This is kind of a vibe
My generation (and younger generations even moreso) are living lives that are very different from our parents’ and grandparents’. We don’t follow society’s Great Big Plan Of Steps Every Human Should Take Whether They Like It Or Not as much, and we get less demonised if we decide to not follow it (although that still heavily depends on your surroundings).
We ask ourselves if we actually want to do all of these things. If we want to stay in that soul-hoovering job for the rest of our lives. If we want to buy a house. If we want to be in a relationship, get married or have kids. We’re learning to prioritise mental health and talk about our pain. There are so many options.
Not having this clear path that you cannot stray from is, at times, confusing. But it’s also so liberating. It’s exciting to see how my friends and I navigate all of this. How life leads us in different directions, how we make very different choices, and how we still try to keep our younger selves, as well as each other, close.
Let’s do this!
My life is definitely not what I thought it would be. I’m not a rich, married mother of three in a big house and a small body, and thank fuck for that. I don’t even want those things anymore (well, I wouldn’t say no to the money…). I have never been happier or more confident than I am right now. The older I get, the more I get to know myself and the more I like who I am.
So it’s bittersweet. I’m sad to leave my twenties behind, but I’m also very excited to see what this new decade will bring. Some of the dreams I once had have been replaced by new ones and some of the things that I once thought I wanted, I don’t want anymore. My teenage self is still part of me, just like my twenty-year-old self and my five-year-old self. One thing that has never changed, is that I have always wanted to do my own thing. Bang my own drum, as they say. I think I’m doing that, and that feels great. I think all these younger versions of me would be proud of who I am today, and I can’t wait to see who I become.