How I stopped being afraid to turn 30

My thirtieth birthday was a dream. I cruised around New York City with a bright smile on my face, navigating through SoHo, taking in all of the sights and sounds, and wishing I could stay forever. I was full of youthful excitement until I reached the hotel and realized it was officially past the time I had been born. (Yes, I pay attention to those things.) At that moment, my excitement quickly morphed into the feeling kids have when they find out about Santa Clause. Reality set in, tears started to swell, and as my boyfriend hugged me I quietly said, “There’s no going back.”

Then, I had an epiphany: I was so upset because I thought I no longer had an excuse to fail. In my twenties, I had time to date guys who I knew were not Mr. Right, procrastinate on finding my dream job, and start saving for the future tomorrow. After all, those student loans weren’t going away anytime soon. I had time to not have it all figured out. All of sudden, thirty hit like a college textbook right in the face, and suddenly I realized that I didn’t have that time anymore. I felt this pressure to suddenly have achieved the dream job, the money, husband, family, and all that goes with being an adult.

But all know that’s not realistic because life is not perfect. I am not perfect, and that’s okay. Instead of continuing to sulk in my beautiful hotel room, I made a list. Here are some reasons why turning thirty is awesome.

You’ve gotten some of the trial and error out of the way

When you’re fresh out of college, you’re just getting on your feet in your career. That means a lot of trial and error: putting in long hours, dealing with not-great bosses, having to figure out what exactly you want to do in the first place. The nice part of turning 30 is that some of that is past you. You know more of what you want and how to get it, and more of what you don’t want.

You’ve figured out (at least a little bit) where your priorities are

You’re probably not going to spend most of your monthly salary on shoes and then have to eat ramen the rest of the time. Now that you’ve had experience actually having to put your life together, it’s easier to see what things might be better decisions in the long run. (Even if you don’t always make the best one. That’s OK too.)

You can let go of the little things 

It’s a cliche, but it’s true: The value of age is experience, and now that you have more of the former, you have more of the latter. That means that it’s easier to shake off the things that would totally consume you earlier in your life.

Your life is full of awesome people

A thing about growing up is that it means you have new friends at every stage in your life. Now you have high school friends, college friends, work friends, friends of friends—you name it. It’s a big friend cake. You value relationships more and the people in your life who are positive influences. You quit surrounding yourself with toxic people and instead learn to nurture the relationships you cherish. You support your friends and family and are grateful for their presence.

You can handle more than you thought

You have enough life experience to know that a failed relationship will not break you, or that being turned down for a job can be a blessing in disguise. And when you hear a friend of yours who’s younger that’s going through it for the first time, you can say “it’s going to be OK” and know it’s true, because you’ve been there

Actually, you’re still young

You actually have the best of both worlds: Wisdom and youth! You are still young enough to enjoy yourself and old enough to know when to take care of yourself. You know how to have a good time, how to handle your alcohol, and when to leave the party.

Life is not perfect and that’s okay. I have learned that what matters is accepting myself for who I am. After my mini-breakdown in the hotel room, something inside of me told myself to get a grip. I stopped moping, thanked the universe for being here and healthy, quickly put myself back together with my sexy black dress, and left feeling fabulous for my birthday dinner. Being 30? No problem, world.

Samantha Russo is a musician, marketer, and writer in Austin who loves petite fashion, travel, and dancing like no one is watching. You can check out her creative endeavors at or on Twitter @srussomusic.

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[Image via 13 Going on 30]