Lately I’ve been seeing a lot of my friends freaking out about turning 30, or being 30. This year I turned 34, so I think I have a little perspective to share. Not a lot, just a little. Just enough to tell all of you to stop freaking out about turning 30, or being in your 30s. Just breathe. Enjoy the journey. Absorb the lessons you’re learning. Being in your 30’s can actually be pretty awesome.
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I think it isn’t fair or cool that so much of the pressure that we feel about turning 30, centers on women. Do you notice that men don’t usually exhibit these kinds of fears? There’s no expected wringing of hands by dudes about turning 30. I have yet to hear one of my guy friends complain or express real fear about coming up on 30, or being in their 30’s. They might express a concern about not being where they want to be professionally by a certain age…but it doesn’t seem to me that 30 holds the resonance and weight with men that it holds with women. It seems to me like all of these expectations are laid on women to have hit all kinds of crazy benchmarks by the time they turn the big three-oh. It has to do with the biological clock and society’s sometimes antiquated expectations – way deeper issues that I’m not trying to delve into in this particular post.
I think people look at 30 and they’re like “oh no!” because of what 30 signifies for them. But I’m telling you, you should embrace it. It’s a good age to be.
30 doesn’t mean what it used to anymore. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re married. It doesn’t necessarily mean you already have kids or are even thinking about kids. It doesn’t mean you’re in a relationship, even. It could mean that you’re looking for Mr. or Mrs. Right. Or you’re chilling and focusing on yourself right now. 30 doesn’t necessarily mean you have your dream career and you’re all grown up and have figured everything out. On the contrary.
I used to think that being in your 30’s meant having your life together. I used to think that being 30 meant being places on time, having the right wardrobe, never feeling insecure, never getting a pimple ever again, and knowing that you were grown up and adult. Now that I’m in my 30’s, I realize that none of that was true.
I’m here to tell you that you can still feel like an awkward, gawky girl on the inside, even if you’re 34. You can still feel like you will never have it all the way together. You might still struggle to get places on time (Lord knows I do). You will still have things in your life that feel like homework and final exams, even though you may not have been in school for years. You might still have those moments of feeling like the new kid at school, even though that’s something in your past. And that’s all part of growing up and becoming an adult. That’s what you are now. All of those experiences and anxieties and moments of angst have shaped you into who you are. What you do with all that collective life experience is entirely up to you. We are all on different paths in this journey called life, but you might find that you’ll have a few of these realizations yourself.
10 Realizations I’ve Had About Being In Your 30’s
1 – Everything you’ve experienced has made you who you are today. All of the past hurts and friends you’ve lost and mistakes you’ve made. You can either let those past mistakes be a burden, or you can learn and grow from them. Choose the latter. It will set you free.
2 – If you were one of those people who had a mental checklist of things you needed to accomplish by 30…you may find that you haven’t yet accomplished them. It’s up to you to be OK with that. If you’re finding yourself approaching 30 or in your 30’s with dreams deferred, you probably know what you need to do to achieve them. You can either work towards making them happen, or continue to let them gather dust. Life circumstances can prevent you from doing things your heart has been set upon. Being an adult means dealing with that, but not letting those circumstances paralyze you into permanent inaction.
3 – You have to find your identity and find your own happiness. I hear so many people say turning 30 was a turning point, where they finally knew and came to terms with who they were. Some people figure that out earlier than others, but by your thirties the Jell-O mold that is your personality should have pretty much set.
4 – Just by making it to age 30, you’ve outlived some incredibly famous people, including Aaliyah, Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix, Heath Ledger, Tupac, Biggie, Amy Winehouse, Garnett Silk and Otis Redding. If you make it to 35, think of who you’ve outlived – Donnie Hathaway, Sam Cooke, Chris Farley, Bruce Lee. Marilyn Monroe and Bob Marley only made it to age 36. Look at what they accomplished in their brief lifetimes. Now you’ve lived that long and then some. Thinking about that lets me know how much life you can live in a short time. It reminds me that I’ve got further to go and more of an impact to make. Just kinda puts it in perspective, kinda.
5 – Your concept of “old” needs to change. Remember when 30 seemed so old? And now here you are.Guess what? 40 isn’t old either, and it’ll come up on you faster than you realize. Nothing to be scared of. Just something to prepare for.
6 – By now you know what you should be doing to take care of your health. You’ll notice, things change. Things you used to be able to take for granted, you can’t anymore. You don’t lose weight as easily. Your skin may need more attention. When you get sick you don’t bounce back from it right away the way you used to. You find that you really do need to eat better, drink more water, and exercise regularly. Whether or not you’re actually doing these things, is another question.
7 – Being in your thirties means less time to care about things that might have really gotten under your skin in the past. That petty friend who said that mean thing, that stupid guy who didn’t call you back – what used to be a grievous wound of the heart is now like you skinned your knee or got a mosquito bite. You heal quicker. You’ll find that you have less time for drama and less inclination for heartbreak. Time and experience toughens you up.
8 – You start realizing life is too short to be left with regrets. You start living life on your own terms, and taking action to achieve your goals. You can see the sand trickling through the hourglass and you get that someday, there won’t be as much sand. You realize now is the time to plan for your future and get off your butt. Things that seemed really far away – like retirement – are closer than you realize, and now’s the time to prepare for all of that.
9 – You have a greater perspective on the circle of life. In this window of my life, my friends are getting married, becoming parents, becoming first time home owners – all great things! And there are people I know who are dealing with medical issues of their own, or of their kids, or of their parents. This is a time when you find yourself dealing with life’s ebbs and flows, losses and gains. The need for maturity hits you when you least expect it.
10 – When you weren’t looking or paying attention, you became an adult who is more capable, wise and ready for the world than you may give yourself credit for. You’ve come a long way, and you’ve got further to go!
These were my realizations.
I recently talked with my friend Renisha of Renewed Fitness about the mental changes that happen when you turn 30, and she said she totally experienced the same thing. “Everything clicked. Everything shifted. I don’t know what happened. It was a universal shift. And finally I know what I want, I know what my goals are, and I still have learning and growing to do but I know we don’t have time to lollygag and waste anymore. I am focused now. I’m walking in my purpose. I found it.”
That’s what 30 did for me, and what it did for Renisha.
PS: Three great posts to read on the topic – A Bucket List For Your 30’s, and Your Thirties Are Do Or Die. Also, 30 Life Lessons in 30 Years.
My bellas who are in your thirties – what realizations have you made? And what advice do you have for anyone who’s freaking out about turning 30?