SOCIAL STUDIES Why I Don't Mind Turning 30 Danielle Hampton

With my 30th birthday getting closer everyday (I turn the big 3-0 this May 29th), I can’t even tell you the amount of times I’ve had people make a huge deal out of this impending shift into a new decade. Nine times out of ten, I hear my peers commiserating over “30″, saying it in whispered tones, turning 30 into the Voldemort of birthdays. Growing up I can still remember a friend’s older sister who celebrated her 29th birthday four times, and I have a cousin who to this day won’t recognize the fact that she entered her 30s…in the ’90s.

But why do we have such an aversion to ending our 20s?  What about 30 is so scary?

As for me, my 20s were amazing. Wild. Beautiful, even.  In between all of life’s important moments, the bullet points on the broad timeline of this past decade, there’s been a whole lot of figuring it out – “it” being, you guessed it, life. Now, at the fairly young age of 29 I still have a long, long way to go, but I am fairly certain that as my life goes on, I will look back to my 20s as a time of self-discovery. And if that is indeed the case, then I am hoping that my 30s will be a time to enjoy all of the “stuff” I figured out.

I think some people are scared of 30 because it feels like the end of youth, that it’s a distinct marker between being young and getting older. I’ve talked to a few girl friends about it, and some have told me that it’s a birthday that makes them feel not only old, but as if they should be doing something. And more often than not, their something doesn’t exactly match up to their fantasy of what a 30-year old should be doing.

It’s hard trying to measure up when you’ve created an imaginary ruler in your mind. And I think it’s easy to get caught up with dreading birthdays rather than celebrating them. But when you really think about it, is there a more joyous occasion than marking the passing of a year, noting all of its lessons, trials and triumphs, and gearing up for a new one?

As I enter these last months of my 20s, I’m excited. I don’t mind turning 30, and here’s why:

Like I said above, I loved this past decade. But so much of it was spent trying to find myself, and with that comes a roller-coaster of emotion. During these past 10 years I became an adult. I went away to college and learned more about myself than I could have ever imagined. I dated the wrong guys and figured out exactly the kind of qualities I wanted in a partner. I made new friends, I lost some old ones. I realized that the only constant in this world is change, and sometimes the hardest part of growing up is letting go of relationships that I thought would last forever.  But the silver lining? Realizing that life is all about meaningful connections. And knowing this allows me to keep “quality over quantity” in mind and put time and effort into those who matter, forging strong bonds with just a few people rather than many.

To me, turning 30 is exciting. I know who I am, I know what I want out of life and for the most part, I’ve figured out how to get there. It’s not even about accomplishments; married or not, children or none, career or still figuring it out – it’s about self-realization and being able to say, “Hey, you- I love you!” to that reflection in the mirror. Accepting myself has been the hardest journey of all, and although I’m not there yet, I’m a heck of a lot closer than I was at 21.

And the best part? I’m at a point where I fully realize that I am the master of my own destiny. The maker of my day. The determiner of my future. I’ve grown up and away from blaming others for my mistakes or unhappiness. I’ve learned that I can look to no one else when I fail or succeed. It’s all me. And I now know that it’s futile to try to live up to anyone else’s idea of success or happiness. This is my one life, and I’m sure as hell not going to waste it trying to people-please. Everyone will always have an opinion, but unlike my 20-something self, my almost-30 self now knows to take what others say with a grain of salt. I will never be able to please ‘em all. Each individual in this wide, wide world has an idea of what living this life is to them, and my choices will always, always go against someone’s, somehow.

So as I look back and think about all of the things I’ve learned, I feel lucky that everything I’m taking away from this decade I get to practice in a new one. My 30s are a time for taking care of myself and being healthy.  It’s about enjoying the time I have and savoring every single moment with my loved ones. It’s about being kind.  It’s about looking back at the beautiful naivety of my 20s with humor and acceptance, and realizing that it’s all brought me to this very moment.

And so I welcome in this next decade. I’m excited. Bring out the party hats, the noise makers, put up the streamers and blow up the balloons!  I couldn’t be happier to enter this next chapter, a time that I wholeheartedly believe will be the best yet. And I hope you’ll join me. I’m so over feeling like I should dread each impending birthday, especially this next one. I want to celebrate everywhere I’ve been and everywhere I’m going. I want to live this one life of mine- really, really live it- and at the end of my journey I want to look back down the road and feel a sense of pride and accomplishment that I truly did.

So bring it on, May, I’m ready. Happy almost-30th birthday to me.

Featured image via ruffled blog

If you’d like to read more on this topic, you can visit 10 Things I’ve Learned in my 20s- Part One and Part Two on my personal blog.

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  1. I remember one day when I was 24 (a chaotic year for me), sitting in my apartment, and thinking that I couldn’t wait to be 30. 30 seemed so settled & together. I didn’t want to wish my 20′s away, but I just couldn’t shake the feeling that my 30′s would be awesome. Sure enough, on my 30th birthday, I took some time for myself to reflect. At 30, I had a great career, great friends (that I met in my 20′s), a wonderful husband, a nice house & car, and realized that I still had a lot to look forward to. My 30′s have been great so far (I’m 32), and I;m confident that the best has yet to come!

  2. This post is so timely. I just turned 25 today. Thanks for this. :D

  3. [...] a few years away from turning 30 but this post sums up pretty much my thoughts on [...]

  4. “I realized that the only constant in this world is change, and sometimes the hardest part of growing up is letting go of relationships that I thought would last forever. ”

    You couldn’t have said that any better.

    I turn 25 next month and have mixed feelings about it. On the one hand, I now have fine lines, with nothing but more in site as I approach 30, and I am not exactly where I expected to be in my career. On the other hand, I am infinitely more confident in my own skin than I was just a few years ago and I am married to a wonderful man with whom I will have a beautiful family by 30!

    My girlfriends and I often joke about the uncertainty that fills your 20′s and hope that by 30 we will have “figured it out.” Glad to see that you have – at least most of it! : )

  5. I just turned 40 on November 1, 2011. It was the best birthday I have had yet! I have enjoyed being 40 so much so far! All my girl friends thought I was crazy to be so excited by this new decade. I just explained to them that in my 30′s, I was finally starting to truly get comfortable in my own skin. When I turned 40, it was like an Epiphany, everything I had been feeling in my 30′s had solidified upon turning 40. I finally feel like I fit like a glove in my mind, body and spirit. This is my best age thus far. You think your 30′s will be enlightening? Just wait til 40, when you get all the answers.

    Thanks,
    Cheryl, 40 and proud to admit it!

  6. I can’t add anything to this because you’ve said everything that I would have wanted to say. Danielle, you are SO right! I’m with you on Yay to 30s! My 20s were all about figuring life out. In my 20s I worked hard, dealt with a lot of challenging things and now I’m ready to have so much fun. I hope I can join you on this journey to celebrating our 30s!

  7. Oh my! I loved this post.
    I actually got stuck on the fact that your birthday is May 29th!
    I have followed your blog for awhile now & never knew we had the same birthday!
    I’ll be 25 this year … and was just talking about how 30 is slowly creeping its way towards me.
    This post was encouraging!!
    & it was great to hear about the ups and downs of your 20′s.
    I could definitely relate thus far.
    Have a lovely evening!
    -Colie

  8. I will be 30 next year, in July. I don’t have much to say for my 20s, except I went on my first date and got my first kiss. I also found the one other place in the country besides California that captures my heart and soul (do you hear me New England? I love you!). Only time will tell what I will be thinking next July, but I hope it all goes well.

  9. Oh my gosh you turn 30 the exact same day as my sister.

  10. I celebrated turning 30 by having a huge party with my friends and drinking a handle of Jim Beam! I feel better now than I did when I was 19, so I was also not scared to turn 30. I’m hitting 32 in a couple months and I still feel great!

  11. I loved this Dani!! I am turning 30 on July 17 and I can’t wait! I actually like getting older and my friends think I’m crazy, but I feel like each year I am more beautiful, get smarter and get to know myself a little better! It’s amazing!! Bring on my 30′s, I’m ready!!!

  12. My mom always said 34 is the perfect age. (Not that’s she’s been pining for it since, haha). I’m 33, and I’ve got to say, the 30s are amazing. I’ve achieved great things in my career, I have stability, love, and more confidence than ever. I appreciate things more while at the same time not sweating the small stuff. And actually, as far as birthdays go? 31 sucks more than 30. 31 is like 30 but you’re older and there’s no big party, haha.

  13. I just turned 30 TODAY! I’m excited! :)

  14. I’m not 30 yet but I’m getting there! I agree with everything you say you discovered in your 20s!

  15. LOVE this post!! I have another year before 30, but I already feel exactly the same way. I have learned so much about who I am these past years, and now I am excited to enjoy who I am and what I love!
    Thanks so much for posting! It’s a great insight for people to learn!

  16. i’m en route to thirty [11/11] + i know exactly how you feel. its as if in the last few years, i have learned how to embrace + appreciate life, even when things were less than stellar. at the beginning of the month, i was fired from my job of 9.5 years, for something totally absurd [corporations take the side of the customer who threatens to boycott, not the loyal worker - disheartening, huh?]. although i felt as if i were dumped, in a sense, i felt absolutely liberated at the same time. it was an excuse to do something new. to explore the world + my inner creativity. to show the world who i am. growing old has been really rad + i’m stoked to see where i will go in life. good luck on your journey, also!

  17. I just turned 30. I looked forward to it all year long and so far, it has not let me down. I’d say 30 is the new 20, but honestly, being 20-something can be kind of awful, so instead, I’m just going to say that 30 is the new awesome.

  18. I love my 30′s way more than I ever thought I would. I know who I am, and I know what I want. I am not where I thought I would be, but I’m so much better than I was! My 20′s were hard. My 30′s have been about me, and getting healthy and happy. I wish you happiness!