Why Turning 30 Doesn’t Need to Be Terrifying
Updated: May 31
Your twenties have laid the foundations for a great decade
Back in 2004 when I was 14 and I watched Jennifer Garner in 13 Going on 30, turning 30 seemed so far away.
Now I’ve just had my lockdown birthday, and it’s here.
I’m thirty. Three. Oh.
Thirty, thirty, thirty.
As you can see, I’m not sure it’s sunk in yet and I’m not sure why. Is turning 30 really such a big deal?
The answer to that is a resounding ‘no’. Nothing has changed overnight from the last day of my twenties to the first day of my thirties.
I did not wake up with hundreds of new grey hairs.
My skin did not spontaneously begin to sag.
Yes, my toddler still woke me up at 7.30am.
The more I think about it, the more I’m actually looking forward to my thirties for several reasons. Not least, the fact that a survey says that 35 is the best age.
So if you’re panicking about hitting this big milestone like I was, you don’t need to.
Let me walk you through how to embrace turning 30.
Society glamorises your twenties
We have this predefined, exciting image of our twenties that the media likes to constantly impress upon us. But how much of it is true?
A lot of young people choose to go to university and seek higher education.
Three years of my twenties were spent at university. Of course, there were many fun times and wonderful people met along the way. But it also involved lots of stress and anxiety, with constant deadlines and exams around every corner.
Not to mention a lot of money going out of my bank account and not a lot coming in.
I enjoyed being a student for the most part but I’m not in any rush to go back to that phase of my life. I’m sure a lot of people would agree with me.
Employment in a financial crisis
I then graduated in 2013 into a job market that was still recovering from the 2008 financial crisis. Instead of only applying for jobs I wanted, I was applying for any job. And finding myself up against hundreds of other people in the same situation.
Many people in my generation will find this a familiar story. Especially those who didn’t go to university or college and who chose instead to go straight into employment a few years prior, only to find an even worse global economic situation.
Our twenties didn’t turn out like other generations’ twenties, or how the media portrayed it.
First full-time job
After finding my first full-time job in 2013 in Spain, whose economy was very much in the gutter, I realised it wasn’t all that great. This was despite the fact that it was related to my degree, something that few millennials are lucky enough to say.
6am starts, and an hour’s commute, and all for not much more than minimum wage.
Cue lots of soul-searching, tears, and rants during this period. I’m not sure why my then-boyfriend stuck around to marry me.
Your twenties are about finding your way professionally. Your career goals aren’t as clearly defined.
Laying the groundwork
After taking a huge professional leap of faith and opting to go freelance, I spent the rest of my twenties trying to establish myself in my industry. This involved lots of ups and downs, and learning from mistakes made along the way.
Settling for less pay from some companies, working with people who were so disorganised that they stressed me out, to name a few.
When you’re just starting out in the world of work, you’re more afraid to challenge the status quo. So you often just accept how things are.
This doesn’t necessarily make for a great professional experience, but it can teach you some vital lessons as you move forward in your career.
The vast majority of my twenties saw me spend who knows how much money on renting places that weren’t my own, lining landlords’ pockets.
However, that might continue to be the case for many millennials given house prices in today’s market.
After navigating your twenties, you’re ready to hit a new decade with a new perspective.
Now with seven years of employment under my belt, I’m more focused in terms of the direction I want my career to take. I’m also more prepared to go out and make it happen.
So if you’re turning 30, look back on your twenties as the decade when you laid the foundations to your career or personal goals, or both, before you really take the reins.
At this point in my life, I’ve realised life’s too short to have to deal with bullshit that makes things more difficult.
In turn, that’s made more self-confident.
So don’t dwell on the negative. If something or someone doesn’t make you happy, do something about it. And believe in yourself when you do it.
There are many things I’ve done in my life that I can view as “downs”. But I’m very much a believer that everything happens for a reason.
For example, if I’d made different university choices when I was 18, I wouldn’t currently be writing this post from Spain.
The ups and downs you’ve been through in your twenties give you life experience and you’ll have gained plenty of knowledge along the way. You’ll be better equipped to take on a new decade.
Additional life experience and focus mean you’re more likely to know what you want out of life. It’s easier to set yourself new goals.
Goals help to give you clarity in your life, either professionally or personally.
So go ahead and set some. If you’re feeling motivated, why not draw up a list of 40 things you’d like to achieve before turning 40? You can check out my list here if you’re in need of inspiration.
Stop comparing yourself
We spend a large part of our lives being bombarded by advertising, influencers, and social media.
Friends are constantly sharing their baby news and engagements on Facebook, their holidays and wedding celebrations on Instagram, and parenting tips and advice on Twitter.
I’ve learned to stop comparing myself to others, and you should too. Life’s not a race or a competition to see if we can outdo one another.
But maybe you’re turning 30 and you suddenly realise you’re not happy about the direction your career has taken. Or perhaps your living situation is getting you down. Maybe there are some relationships in your life that get you down.
Turning 30 doesn’t mean you’re suddenly too old. Past it. Over the hill.
Make the changes you want to make. You’ll be happier for it in the long run, even if it feels daunting right now.
Who are we kidding?
Remember when you were a kid and you used to think people in their twenties had it all figured out?
Or you had a plan to have a degree, a car, a home, a husband, and a baby, all by the age of 25?
Nobody has it completely figured out. We’re all muddling through adulthood and mostly making it up as we go along. So don’t stress yourself out about that big birthday.
Turning 30 isn’t so bad!
What have you got in mind for your 30th birthday? Or what did you do for your 30th birthday?
What part about turning 30 scared you the most?
Let me know in the comments and don’t forget to subscribe to my blog.