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.

shutterstock_83309077 (2)Traffic sign via Shutterstock.

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?


Bee says:
May 14, 2013, 1:20 pm
THANK YOU for this! I just hit the big 3-0 on Friday, and (whether it's all in my head or not), I've definitely felt a shift as I moved into this new year and decade. I feel this odd sense of both being old and being younger than I thought I'd feel - both aspects come with their blessings, so I'm going to take it and run with it. Everyone says the 30s are the best decade of your life, so overall I'm more excited than anything to see how things play out. Will definitely be re-reading this one over and over again :)
Erica says:
May 14, 2013, 1:52 pm
Yes! I turn 34 this year and have realized that all of these things have happened and I didn't notice it happening. Until one day you look back and say "why the hell did I care about all that?" and you find that it's easier to distance yourself from the "troubles" your younger self seemed to run in to. It's easier to test your boundaries in self-confirming and not self-destructing ways. Thank you for this. P.S. Sex is better in your 30's too.
OSHH says:
May 14, 2013, 2:52 pm
I never had that fear of turning 30, as I envisioned from a young teen how fly I would be, it was a decade I looked forward too and I have rocked my 30's for the most part. Now on the cusp of 40, I will be 39 next month, Halle, Janet and others have me looking forward to my 40's and beyond Sade in her 50's, Chaka being so fab @ 60, see where I am going ;-) Taking care of yourself and embracing every age and every season as the gifts they are, you realize the special beauty and magic they each contain!!!
Kathleen Lisson says:
May 14, 2013, 3:52 pm
At 38, I can tell you - the bars are no longer cool. The world doesn't end if you don't party every weekend. Reality show drama stops seeming so interesting. Teenagers look really, really young to be driving / working at the supermarket, etc. Charity work becomes more fulfilling. Finding a wrinkle or a gray hair is not life changing.
peaceimages says:
May 14, 2013, 8:24 pm
Love it. Great read!!! I love being 32.. I wouldn't trade this peace, understanding and knowledge of self for anything.
Pets says:
May 14, 2013, 8:44 pm
30 is great ! It is the time when you begin seeing the fruits of university completion, start building up your job and cv and becoming more aware of what you want and the way to proceed.
Felicia Yvette says:
May 14, 2013, 9:39 pm
I love this SO much. I just turned 30 a month ago tomorrow and I've never been happier in my life. I had a really rough past couple of years and have finally gotten myself out of a really toxic and unhealthy situation, but when I woke up on April 15th? I was SO happy. I cried all day just because I knew that I had started taking the right steps and that this is a new beginning for me. Yay, 30s!
Laquinta says:
May 14, 2013, 9:54 pm
My confidence hit an all time high in my 30's I let go of the "what does everyone else think, see, feel" and fell so in love with me, my happiness came before anything, life after 30 is definitely more relaxing, I feel like I have arrived,,,,,I will be 36 on 8/14 and I am still loving this high I have been on since my 30th!
Grace says:
May 15, 2013, 5:03 pm
My biggest realization about being in my 30s just recently hit me. There was no big shift for me when I turned 30 or when I turned 31, but halfway into my 32nd year of life I have come to this realization… “It’s okay to be different.” I don’t know why it hit me so late in life, but it hit me a few weeks ago and it’s stuck. Maybe it was at this point that I realized what was different about my physical appearance wasn’t going to change so I might as well embrace it. Why was I so obsessed with how flat my stomach would get after I have this baby? Why was I so paranoid about the lines in my neck? My body doesn’t have to look like Beyonce’s did after she gave birth. And if God wanted my neck to be smooth, then he would have given me a smooth neck. He took all the time to make us different, why in the world do we go out of our way to try and look the same. I’m fine the way I am and there are tons of things on me that are different. And different isn’t bad. Different is good.
Sue says:
May 15, 2013, 8:37 pm
This is a great post!! I think it can be applied to any age when you feel that worry or anxiety coming on. I agree that the pressure is mainly on women, although I have seen similar sentiments being expressed by a few men too. I think for most people turning 30 means they start to feel more comfortable in their own skin. It's a process and from the responses here for some it's early, others later. Like @peaceimages says there is a knowledge of self. For me it has meant realizing that life is a journey, I used to look at various milestones as some kind of destination--rushing to get there, but it's also important to enjoy the journey. Having a list of things to accomplish by age "X" is great. But sometimes there are delays but it does not mean you will not get there. That has been one of the biggest lessons for me. I especially like the perspective you offer on those who did not get to age 30 or 35 and so on. I am still learning to take the time to offer gratitude for each day because it is a blessing.
Kisha says:
May 17, 2013, 8:56 am
Love this! I admit at around 27/28 I was freaking a little lol I'm a mom, had lost my husband at a young age, went to college with the kids, had these plans of marriage, doctorate degree, blah blah blah..........theeeeen I hit 30 and loved it! All of your points were the same for me but #'s 5, 6, & 7 were really big!! I am proud to say that I've recently been accepted into a PhD program, my children are now preparing for high school, and I go back and forth with settling down or just getstamps for my passport ;-) Either way #10 definitely happened and I'm just enjoying the journey! Thanks so much for the post :-)
Kisha says:
May 17, 2013, 8:57 am
Forgot to mention I'm now 32!
Kisha says:
May 17, 2013, 9:05 am
Love it..... Mine didn't hit at exactly 30 but I do feel I had what I'd like to call an "Awakening" - basically God shook me and I felt it hard! lol But He brought a lot of things to my mind, some all the way back from childhood, and my perspective took a shift with my own inner being and peace. I'm 32, widow, mother of 2 teens, and have just been moving along with life. I notice I'm taking more time, more time for me, more time for peace...... Congratulations and prayers for your new life :-)
paintgurl40 says:
May 18, 2013, 2:15 pm
I had mixed feelings when I turned 30, but I was still immature about some things. Now when I hit 40? I woke up with a big grin on my face and I I'm going to be 43 this year and I'm focused on what really matters. God, friends, family, my health and happiness. Oh and still trying to get my money right so I can stop punching a time clock in my 60's.
Skinny says:
May 19, 2013, 5:53 am
30 is the new 25 guys, i feel like we are about getting that old. but because of that we are fighting and really trying to look our best and doing as many things as we can, at least i feel that way :) Think Positive
Chelle says:
May 19, 2013, 8:33 pm
I'll admit I was a bit freaked out about turning 30. I wasn't married, didn't have any kids, didn't really know where I was going in my life. I had so many friends who had already done all the above, and here I was still kind of up in the air about everything. But then the big 3-0 came and gone and I realized it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. I'm 32 now, am married to the most wonderful man, and we just had out first child together a month ago now! Things couldn't be better! And for those of you still freaked out about turning 30, don't let it get to you. Good things will come to you and they will happen naturally. No need to rush things and get married to someone you're not interested in because you "should" be married by now, etc. Live your life the way you want, be happy, and enjoy what comes next! :)
justblue says:
June 4, 2013, 9:24 am
I'm turning 32 in 2 months. I'm not there. I don't feel confident or settled in my career, marriage, finances, none of it. It's just a big ball of confusion. I feel like the floor is being held together by glue and duct tape. This is not what i thought 30s would look like. It's sad and boring and just blah. I'm just trying to learn to be content, not happy.
Areuto says:
October 7, 2013, 6:13 pm
why am i reading this? i'm 16
sister11 says:
November 13, 2013, 10:03 am
god... I'm reading this on the sidelines... maybe the grass is greener on the other side.. i'm in a committed (insane aslymn kind of committed) relationship with a man for 12 years.. we hate each other too much to have sex.. if I could just get rid of him I wonder what's on the other side..
Tyler L says:
December 17, 2013, 8:42 pm
Love this.. 30s and 40s are a man or woman's prime!!
cassidy says:
December 19, 2013, 3:42 pm
@Laqunita I turned 30 on 06-08-2013.But, for me I have not gained any confidence like you have I'm a petite lady who stands 5'0ft. To some. ppl I look like I'm still 18yrsold or 22yrsold. I wish I could experiecne what you have, but my confidence is shot.
cassidy says:
December 19, 2013, 3:51 pm
I feel the same way.
mort says:
March 3, 2014, 1:31 pm
i found the part where you dismiss the fact that a male could feel worry about their reaching 30 disturbing and sexist. it was even more disturbing to paint a picture that the only thing men care about when it does come to their 30's (according to you) was how their job prospects had held up. pro tip for your 40's: never lump people into categories based on assumption, people will surprise you, and in the end you will just end up looking like a jerk
bella says:
March 4, 2014, 7:45 am
I came to that realization after discussing this with many of my male friends who are in their 30's. All of them expressed that 30 simply wasn't a big deal for them because they aren't worried about looking older, or having a child by a certain time - the kinds of expectations put on women aren't put on them. When I pressed my husband and male friends to share their concerns, they told me job prospects and being able to provide for themselves/loved ones were their major areas of concern. And this post was about MY realizations. I guess that didn't come across to you. Instead through your lens, you find my post "disturbing." Please feel free to share with me which concerns you had as you reached 30. Pro tip - maybe since you're apparently in your 40's, try to not project your own experiences and feelings on others because that too, can make you seem like a jerk.
Neghie says:
March 10, 2014, 5:36 pm
Number 5 is so true. I used to have a weird fear of getting old. Still do. I have to stop worrying about getting old and start worrying about living. Glad I've already taken that step. I sign my own checks now.
Ebonie says:
June 11, 2014, 2:52 pm
I'll be 35 this year and a few of these are true for me.
Kaye says:
June 11, 2014, 3:28 pm
When I turned 30 I imagined it feeling like a big bang theory type act. As if my whole life would just transform into this world of complete order, functionality and beauty. It came, it went and now I'm halfway done hoping 30 really is the new 20, lol. I also found that the 30s is a true building time when you spend most of your life just going with the flow. I've never felt so new to the world in my life, but I'm grateful for the wisdom and even more grateful to know someone else feels & thinks like me and understands the "struggle" with maturing. Good read!!! Thanks for this
30's suck says:
July 20, 2014, 8:10 pm
I'm 35 and my 30's have absolutely sucked! I don't who said your 30's are the best decade. I beg to differ....every bit as bad as being an awkward 16 year old figuring oneself out. Making new friends has been a nightmare, dating has been the most awful and it's been endless applications and job searching. I wish I had died young like Jim Morrison. You're dead past 30. Get real folks.
Addie says:
May 28, 2015, 6:15 pm
Thank you for this. I haven't even finished reading he article and was compelled to thank you from excerpts I picked up. Which already put me in a better understanding of my 30s. I'm 31 to be exact but I swear the way the world is spinning I feel so out of lope and context to everything. Of course my journey to this point has been a lot, a whole lot different from the typical upbringing. I hate to consider it because it sounds like an excuse to not have not reached my potential or the things I would've liked to have accomplished by now. Either way, I think I need to take it easy, and breathe, or else it all gets so overwhelming and quite honestly some days, I ask myself what am I even around for anymore? It's not positive, I know. Grateful, I am. Very, very, but at the same time even more ashamed of my short comings. Anyway, thank you for your perspective, I kniw I'll come back to it if I ever need to be reminded again :) <3
JessB says:
June 11, 2015, 5:53 pm
#3 - "You have to find your identity and find your own happiness". Soooo true! The older I get the more I have this feeling that finding own happiness is the real (and likely the only) road to true joy in everyday life...
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Esther says:
August 11, 2015, 5:10 pm
About to turn 30 in a few mins and somehow i have nostalgic feeling about it, what the next phase will be like, i don't want to repeat my mistakes, wish i had attained a certain level career wise.
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Kass says:
September 23, 2015, 5:59 pm
I can honestly tell you. 30 was the beginning of the end for me. I have hated my 30's every step of the way. I was filled with b.s. by people who were 5-10 years older that the 30's were great!!!!!! yay yay yay. What a load that was. People look their best in their mid to late 20's, fertility is prime in your 20's. I am so tired of living in a false world with these false affirmations people feed you. It is a coping mechanism plain and simple. I am 39 today and all of my 30's have sucked. Every year a little more than the last. Good luck to you all! I have taken out mulitiple life insurance policies that have no suicide clause because after today I am taking a canister of 100 % helium and ending this shit..I gave it a fair shake. At 36 people said well your 30's aren't over yet lets see somemore. DID IT and my gut was right it fucking sucked all of them.
MyaJ says:
October 12, 2015, 2:24 pm
I'll be 31 on the 25th of October and I feel great. I no longer have a care in the world about what others think of me. I've learned to embrace my imperfections and realized that I'm not perfect in any way. Having peace in my life is my ultimate goal. I have no toxic relationships, whether it be friends, family, or men. I've also learned to embrace doing things alone. I don't need to be around so many people to have a good time. I'm slowly realizing that having patience brings great results in life. I do need to eat better because once you hit your 30s losing the pounds doesn't get easier. I'm just taking everything one day at a time, and if and when it's my time I'll grab a hold of whatever opportunity that I'm presented with.
Grinding 4goals 4ever - not giving up - fighting harder says:
February 1, 2016, 11:12 pm
Omg. That was EXACTLY what I needed to hear/read. I've been feeling so so down and horribly depressed about turning 31 ...and still feeling so far away from my major life goals. I grew up in a poor and abusive, unsupportive family. I've had to work so hard to get where I am and the last few years I've felt defeated and sort of gave up. It just became too hard for too long without, a break or a bonus. And sometimes you just simply don't have the means at the times you need them. And then friends I went to school with, who had my same goals, are already there and then some. They just effortlessly had what they needed when they needed it. And I'm still grinding away through poverty at such a slower pace. The main thing is the judgements and assumptions of others. Just gets old. I don't drink or smoke or go out. Just studied and worked and work out. I was the smart one and wise one and hardworking one. But it didn't seem to matter. And hear hurtful judgements now and then. Anyway, been feeling a rekindled fire lately and this blog just spurred me on all the more. THANK YOU x 100!! Your words have made a difference in my life. HUGE Best wishes to you!! :))
M says:
March 23, 2016, 10:50 pm
I just turned 30 a couple of days ago and as I approached it, a bit of a change. Im more confident and going after what I want. I am determined to make most of my dreams come true with the help of God's grace. I still look like a teenager and I still act like I was 19 except more mature. I dont have kids nor am I married and that was something that had me worried when I turned this age. Ive realized its obviously not the end and that I am still young and learning as I keep growing and hopefully God will bless me with someone soon like that lady who is 32 and said she got married and has a child. Im hoping that I will be in that position in a few years. Right now, Im trying to get my life together and hopefully things will come together for me in my mid thirties. This article is encouraging and helped me to realize that I dont have to have it all and its not the end of the world.
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Helena says:
May 1, 2016, 10:43 pm
Bella, As a 24-year-old this post made me do nothing but smile. I'm starting to experience some of the first tastes of what your 30s have brought for you, including the greater confidence to live at my own pace and pursue my goals in life without shame or reservation. I've also learned to embrace who I am and what makes me happy, in the face of pressure from society and family/friends to follow a more traditional path or timeline. Up until recently the thought of reaching my 30s was so intimidating and seemed depressing but thanks to the examples set by so many far-reaching, awesome women like you I've realized my 30s just may be when I hit my prime. ;) Thank you Bella, for setting a bright, inspiring example of what I can (hopefully) look forward to in my 30s. I was always a late bloomer, so the best may very well be to come. I can't wait to become more confident in the woman I am, to feel powerful and in control of my happiness, to feel sexier and more comfortable in my skin, and love my life. Cheers to all beautiful and powerful women!
Megan says:
June 4, 2016, 10:19 pm
With everyday that passes, I realize I miss being young. I buy clothes that are fashionable, but never wear because I'd rather comfortable clothes and not show off any part of my body. I could be out in public without makeup on, my hair done, and my glasses on with not a care in the world. But at the same time, I miss it, I just realize I don't have the energy to even try to care. I'm reliving acne and depression all over again, but this time it's not going away no matter what I do. I love weight lifting, but I have aches and pains and envy the younger crowd that can lift much heavier weights. That all being said, I appreciate the little things more, I don't like drama and it's mainly because I have a new perspective on life at 38 years old. All in all though, in my opinion, aging is a hard pill to swallow.
Monique Sivret says:
February 8, 2017, 1:49 pm
34 here as well.. I guess now you'd be older - judging by the age of this post. I'm okay with was like submerging into a bathtub a little hotter than comfortable at first, but then it gets pretty cozy for a while. I'm still young looking for my age... and my mentality is at best, a 25 year olds... that part feels pretty immature, I still love to go to festivals, rock shows, make jokes..addicted to memes, haa. I think it's all concept. You're never too old for anything except fashion - yeah... there are things I would feel purely ridiculous in... really, maybe they should feel ridiculous in too.. but let the teens/early 20's have their time in the sun. They'll get here too. ;) So for this edgy 34 year old - I sort of keep my eyes focused on some of my rock idols that are beyond my age... I look at like Brody Dalle from the distiller's who's like 38 or 39, a babe and she's still rocking, still young at heart and I think yeah.. .I can do that too :) We're all going to get inevitably older ... but what we make of that time, and what we become in that journey is what is truly defines us. Just like when you think back to how young and how much time you had when you were 15, you're going to look back at right now and think the same ... much later, so take hold of this time right now, and just worship it and lather yourself up in the beauty of who you are...right now.
Holly says:
May 12, 2017, 5:00 pm
In my 20s I used to look at the women in their thirties and wonder why they look so miserable.... now I know. I'm 34 turning 35 in less than a month. The things I planned for before thirty, never happened. The things I thought would get better, got worst. And no one warns you about this. I suppose lack of life coping skills was never rendered to me by my mom who was single divorced 3x's with 5 children. Your list is great don't get me wrong. I think tv is the 2nd root of all evil...The mold of expectations is ridiculous. I can't find a man that won't cheat on me..and don't know if there is such a man except for the good Lord himself.*sigh*
LANELL says:
May 24, 2017, 2:42 am
Same thing happened for me at this age! I am 34 and woke up one day with that aww ha moment on life, when you realize that more then a third of your life is over and you DID not accomplish any of the things you planned on. I am ok with the single part because i will not settle for less, but that in itself is the issue. A lot of the men left are cheaters or married men looking for their side fling! Life definitely gets harder after 30 and the only thing you can do is keep swimming......hopefully my 40s will be my decade! :)
Holly says:
May 28, 2017, 10:33 am
I have the same sense of accomplishment. Yes best wishes to you in your journey and hope our next decade is the epiphany.
Holly says:
May 28, 2017, 10:36 am
*unaccomplishment, lol
Lori says:
June 4, 2017, 8:08 pm
I really enjoyed this article and so much rings true for me. Although, I have been feeling really alone in the fact that I'm in my thirties and don't have a marriage, or children, or a great career (all things that seem to be social norms of being in your thirties). I know that feeling different is a major cause of depression, regardless of age, and reading some of the posts on here that other women in their thirties are having similar experiences, (i.e. not loving this age), I have to admit was helpful. It did make me feel a little less alone and a little less different, and a little bit better, so thank you for that. Marriage, kids, etc. is on my mind a lot, and I find myself stuck in the belief that when I have those things, I will be happy. I realize how damaging that kind of thinking is, that "When x happens, I will be happy" thinking. I know life is about the journey and it is a waste of your life to around waiting for x to be happy. In the same breathe I also acknowledge that finding a partner, having family, house etc., all of those things are not magic bullets for happiness. There are plenty people who have attained all of those so-called milestones and are incredibly unhappy. You know some of those people. I also know people who have those things and don't appreciate them because marriage, babies and a great career seemed to fall in their lap. I have literally watched people fall upwards and just be in the right place at the right time. Some of these people walk around miserable because they have no sense of how much they have, and that's really sad, because it's likely they will only gain perspective on that when they experience a loss. Because of that, I believe that if I do find happiness in those 30's something expectations, I will appreciate it and have perspective I wouldn't have otherwise. I try not to walk around worrying that I'm running out of time. I try to remind myself that 30's are still young relatively speaking, and that there's still some time to have children, but if none of it happens, my life can still have meaning, but sometimes it's really hard and I'm really lonely. What I miss about my twenties? Pretty much nothing except that fact that there was so much time left for all of that. I just wish I had another 15 years or so to start thinking about having a family. I very open and interested in all options in terms of having a family (adoption, etc.), I don't want to have mini versions of me to glorify my ego, that is not my goal in having a family, but that's a little off topic. I don't want to spend my thirties wishing I had all of these things and then be at the end of my life an say, "I wish I didn't spend so much time worried about what I don't have and more time appreciating what I do have. I wish I didn't spend so much time trying live up to my mother's and other people's expectations of me." I don't want to look back and know this is how I spent my thirties. But, sometimes these thoughts enter your head and you know they are not helpful. I was out at a bar with some twenty somethings and having these thoughts like, "If I had spent more time going out like this and dating in my twenties, being less shy, less introverted, and giving less of a shit, maybe I would have had a better time, maybe I would have fallen in love with the right guy instead of the wrong guy I got set up with. Why did I make so many bad choices? Why didn't I realize my youth came with an expiration date and how much it was going to suck to be the only one of my friends to be single in their thirties. Why didn't I try harder?" I have a lot of regret about the choices I made in twenties that led me here, and it's hard to let go of that. All I can do is try not to live in the past, try living in the moment, and move forward making choices that lead me closer to where I want to be. For a moment I just tried to let go of that thought live in the moment and enjoy being out on a beautiful night. I have to admit, I was also appreciating getting hit on like - still got it old girl! Which bring me to the least fun part of getting older. Your looks starting to go to shit. I'm a flawed human with a weakness for maintaining my looks. Growing up, from the time I was a baby and onward, I was always told I was the pretty one. I don't expect sympathy, believe me, but this is something I never ever talk about with other people, for the exact reason you would imagine. I'm really ashamed to admit how much I care about how I look and how much I resent slowing losing my looks. I didn't grow up in an era of self-esteem building in children. So many parents now are conscious of telling girls how smart and strong and capable they are, but that wasn't a thing yet. I grew up being told to smile all the time and how pretty I looked when I smiled, so I know the impact that has on kid. I know that sounds a lot like blame, it is blame, and blame gets you no where. I don't want to play the victim, I just want to acknowledge that for anyone else that had similar experiences as a child. Our bodies are not ornaments, they are instruments. I just wish I had figured that out sooner in life for anyone in their teens and twenties. Our youth, our looks, they are a fleeting thing, so try not to get too attached I guess. I think I see both sides of getting older, like most things, it's good and bad. I think we fear getting older for a lot of reasons, namely, noticing our looks beginning to deteriorate and facing our mortality. It can be genuinely very upsetting to find grey hair, notice smile lines that don't seem to be going away and just looking a little tired all the time. All of this is also a reminder that you are going to die, and that is legitimately depressing, depending on how you look it. You can choose, if you want to, to let that motivate you to fully live your life and not take it for granted. That is not meant to be profound, there are just a lot of ways to think about getting older. I'm also surprised that no one mentioned that fact that that no one celebrates you for not marrying the wrong guy or being super careful about birth control. Throwing a party and buying you stuff for getting married is like throwing you a party for falling off a log, in my humble opinion. Ending a relationship that almost resulted in marriage because he was wrong for me was one of the hardest things I have ever done and I had zero support, but if I had stayed in a relationship where I wasn't happy because it was easy, I would have been celebrated, and that feels shitty. (And I also know several women who feel all of that marriage stuff is an antiquated ritual. If I do ever get married, I don't care about all of that wedding nonsense, I don't want a new toaster or dinner plates. I have a toaster and the means to buy myself new plates should choose to buy new plates.) I am by no means wanting to make anyone feel bad if they had or want a traditional wedding. Everyone should have the exact wedding they want. (As long as I don't have to wear an ugly dress, of course or pretend to want to catch a bouquet of flowers.) Seriously though, you should have the wedding you of your dreams. I had no idea I would write this much on this topic. All I was going to say was that I identify with part of the article about developing a thick skin and your experiences building character. I really know what I'm looking for now and I have learned from my mistakes. I'm genuinely full of gratitude for everything and everyone in my life, and in my teens and twenties, I took a lot for granted.
Ryan says:
August 5, 2017, 10:32 pm
Excellent article. It is great to see I'm breaking about even in maturity. There was a time in my late teens when I was on top of my game. I made it really far in the army in such a short time. But when I got out, I let every single aspect of my life you could possibly think of go. At 25, I hit rock bottom. I know all about the mistakes and loss of relationships. At 28 after failing to receive any sustainable job offers, I knew it was time to make a change to every aspect of my life. From the food I ate, the exercise I never did, the lazy and ill-fitting basketball short and t-shirt wardrobe combo, the drinking, the nicotine, the horrible time and financial management, the excuses I always made for anything and everything... just all of it. Even though I realized this at 28 and began some positive changes, I often took equal steps back. A constant struggle until I was 29.5 and the realization that I will be "30" very soon started to really sink in and take hold. I have to say, it is never too late to turn it around. All the after school specials of "You get out of life what you put in" and "You reap what you sow" had FINALLY CLICKED. I returned to university to pursue my degree in computer science after giving it quite some thought. I have been going strong for almost 1.5 years now, making nearly straight As (I only have a couple Bs). I am blowing these kids out of the water, and I know it is directly related to my life experience and maturity as an almost 30 year old. Nearly all of my professors are impressed with me because I put so much more effort into my assignments compared to my peers. They trust me to tutor for them and assist in other ways, and one has asked me to join his research team in artificial intelligence. There is absolutely no doubt that when this is over, I will be able to fulfill my career goal of becoming a software engineer. This is not to sound braggadocious, but to agree with all of the authors 10 realizations. I have experienced these realizations verbatim. There is much to look forward to as you grow in maturity of the world and of yourself. Hang in there!
Beth says:
May 6, 2018, 2:05 am
Hmmmm I'm 32 and wish I was feeling the way you were about my thirties. I feel like I had a realisation of a very different sort than you had.....I HATE BEING IN MY THIRTIES! All it is is drudgery and work and groceries and cleaning and if IF I have any fun of any kind I'm generally 'wasting time' and then I have a crushing guilt come over me bc I should have used that time to do the laundry or make a healthier dinner so on and on and on bc the list of things you SHOULD be or HAVE to be doing once youre in your thirties seems endless and absolutely zero of it has changed my life in anyway and I certainly have zero time to actually work on life goals or have any life changing experiences bc I'm too busy doing the mundane work, clean, work,clean, grocery, work, cook, laundry, clean ,work oh did I mention work or cleaning(note I did not mention sleep since I rarely get any). Super great job to any of you 30 somethings who are able to do all the mundane effortlessly and are accomplishing all your dreams and feeling confident about yourselves. I envy you bc I am far from the same boat.