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.