Ten Realizations About Being In Your Thirties

 

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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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?

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Comments

  1. 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 :)

  2. 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.

    • 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..

  3. 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!!!

  4. 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.

  5. Love it. Great read!!! I love being 32.. I wouldn’t trade this peace, understanding and knowledge of self for anything.

  6. 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.

  7. Felicia Yvette says:

    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!

  8. 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!

    • @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.

  9. 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.

    • 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 :-)

  10. 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.

  11. 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 :-)

  12. paintgurl40 says:

    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 felt…free. 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.

  13. 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

  14. 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! :)

  15. justblue says:

    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.

  16. why am i reading this? i’m 16

  17. Love this.. 30s and 40s are a man or woman’s prime!!

  18. 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

    • 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.

  19. 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.

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  1. […] 35 on March 8, and it’s kind of like a mental switch flipped inside me. I talked about this in my 10 Realizations About Being In Your Thirties post – in this bracket of life, you start thinking of things differently and having realizations […]

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