Turning 30

You Look Good Just the Way You Are

I have a birthday later this week.

I’ll give you a clue. It’s not 20, and it’s not 40, but it’s the big one in between.

To be honest, I’m not really a fan of birthdays. I already eat cake pretty much every week without needing an excuse… and the things that make me happy in life are usually experiences rather than ‘stuff’ so I don’t get excited at the thought of presents. As for standing there blushing like an eejit while people sing Happy Birthday to me *shudders* well, let’s not dwell on that thought.

This year’s a bit different though. While I’m still not looking forward to the day itself, I am quite looking forward to turning 30.

When I was very young, 30 was definitely the age at which I imagined people would turn into proper grown-ups. As I saw it, you were still allowed to make lots of mistakes in your early twenties – experimental fashion disasters, epic hangovers, bad relationships – but by thirty you’d got your shizzle together and all that was behind you.

Now that I am on the cusp of turning thirty, I know that’s nonsense. I can guarantee you right now that I’ll make as many mistakes over the next ten years as I’ve made in the last ten.

BUT…

I do feel like my life right now is about as sorted as it has ever been. I feel like I have a really good sense of who I am as a person – both my strengths and my weaknesses. I feel like I have great people around me; friends and family who know me well, always providing support, but also challenging me when I need it. I feel like I have the confidence now to remove people from my life if they’re not bringing something positive into it.

A few years ago, a friend said to me that I’m a puzzling person because I have a strong sense of values, but it’s based on my own innate instincts rather than an externally imposed and easily decipherable system of religion, philosophy or politics. I think they were probably right, and I think that is something that has become even truer as I’ve aged.

I trust my own instincts over and above anything else.

Some of those instincts I can now give a name to, because they are ‘big picture’ beliefs, dealing with the way I see the world. When you ask me what I believe politically, I can tell you now that I believe in equality, and in environmental and social justice, rather than doing what I would have done ten years ago and launching into an incoherent (if passionate) ten minute rant about how awful and sad and unfair life can be.

But some of those instincts that are smaller and more personal – like choosing a school for DorkySon, or deciding which bloggers to sit down beside at an event – still come from my gut, and I don’t think that will change in my thirties.

I am not where I expected to be at 30. Life is almost the opposite way round to everything I had imagined – I’m far more settled in my personal life than I thought I would be at this stage, and far less established in a profession than I had thought – but that’s okay. DorkyDad and DorkySon have made me happier and taught me more than a well-paid job ever could have done. There is plenty time left to discover the right career.

I’m hopeful that the time I’ve had developing as a person means that when I do set my mind to a career, I’ll be able to make more of a success of it than I would have done ten years ago. I feel like having a family has definitely made me a better person; more selfish in some ways, and less selfish in others. It has made me more willing to change the things in my life that don’t feel right, and less willing to compromise on the things that do feel right.

I have mentioned often before how deeply stubborn DorkySon is, but I haven’t confessed that the stubbornness comes directly from me. What is sweet and lovely about this time in my life is that the people I spend most time with – DorkyDad and DorkySon – know how to handle that. If DorkySon and I are locking horns over something silly, he will diffuse the tension by making me laugh. DorkyDad now knows that if he pesters me to make a decision about something I will dig my heels in and refuse to do it out of sheer bloody-mindedness. So he lets me be, giving me the space to work through things in my own way and in my own time, and we usually end up in the same place without any big drama.

Some parts of me I suspect will never change. I m still a big ball of raging hormones for at least one week in every four, although I’m finding new ways to deal with that. I still value honesty above anything else, in every relationship.  I would still far rather bury my head in a book than go to a party. And If DorkyDad wasn’t so good in the kitchen; I would still happily eat beans on toast for every meal.

But other parts are changing, hopefully for the better, as those around me nudge me along, push me out of my comfort zone, and help me make good decisions. I am not yet a grown-up, but I am definitely growing up.

As Thursday approaches, I still say you can still keep the cake, and the presents, and the singing.

But the birthday itself? Turning 30?

Bring it on.

I’m ready.

***

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43 responses

  1. You’re definitely in a good place, a strong sense of values based on instinct is kind of what I feel like I have developed as well. I turn 30 next year and I am realising the closer that I get to it the better I actually feel about it. I am just starting to like putting pictures in frames a bit more :-)

    Have a lovely birthday x

  2. Goosebumps!
    I remember turning 30… I built it up in my head to be such a big milestone and I was nowhere near where I thought I should be, personally or professionally. On the day itself, I switched off my phone and took myself out for breakfast. I felt relief that I had reached this grand old age and as much fun as my twenties were, I was happy to be moving into the next decade. I had a big dinner with friends that evening, which was lovely.
    I turn 40 this year, which is a bit of head wreck… but I am where I want to be and like you, I am ready. Bring it on!
    Love this post, happy birthday for this week lovely xx

  3. You are so much further on and more settled than I was at 30 – I’d only been married 6 months, still thought my career was the be-all and end-all, and motherhood was not to come until 33.
    But I’ve always thought of you as a much more together person than I ever was in my 20s.
    And I enjoyed turning 30. In a way, I think people take you much more seriously.
    It’s a decade when you’re no longer seen as wet behind the ears – but you’re not an old fart either (like me now!)

  4. I’m now in my mid 30s and everything changed so quickly recently when I thought I was settling down. It’s great that you seem to be in a really good place and I love your “steady” approach to things. I hope you have a wonderful day.

  5. Happy birthday in advance (memory of a goldfish) and i hit 40 feeling exactly the same way you do now. My 30th was my wobble year. – Funny how different ages mean different things for different people, isn’t it?

  6. I love this post – I enjoyed turning 30 but couldn’t say why. You have expressed it so eloquently and I love the stubborness confession and how your family know best how to “deal” with it. Keep following your instincts – it has made you the strong person you are today, Bee x

  7. Great post, I’ve written totally separately about getting older on my blog tonight and can really resonate with what you say. Happy Birthday x

  8. Oh this post was a joy to read! (crikey 30 years old seems along time ago now). It sounds to me like you are in a very, very, very good place at the mile stone of 30 – especially internally, like you have a good sense of who you are, the good, and the not so good (stubbornness is my archilles heal too) – like you recognise the art of being human – all your strengths and vulnerabilities, and that takes a lot of maturity – I’ve always thought you were very mature – years ahead – it comes across so much in your words. God, I’m 42 and I’m still figuring it all out – sheesh.

    Happy Birthday Lovely Lady! XXX

  9. I’ve loved my 30s! Definitely the best decade so far. Although I was nowhere near as sorted as you! You’re going in with the right attitude and it sounds as though you’ll have a blast! Have a great week of celebrating!

  10. For reasons not known I loved turning 30! It’s still pretty fresh, I’m 32. My 20th and early 20s weren’t the best! At 30 I was surrounded by all the people that made me happy.and I was in a really good place. Your post was a lovely read!
    Hope you have a fantastic week of celebrations! Welcome to your 30s!

  11. I love being in my 30s – far better than the overrated 20s! You finally get to the stage where you’re comfortable with the skin you’re in and worry less about what people think. A bit like that poem about the elderly lady in the purple hat – can’t remember the title! Enjoy!

  12. Have a super birthday – I loved the idea of turning 30 and had a great day. I find it more depressing as I head into my 30′s and the numbers are all less exciting and heading closer to 40! Xx

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  14. Happy, happy birthday! I hope it was wonderful. And, as I near (very near) my 55th, I can only say that my life has gotten better and better each year, evan decade. Hope you and the other Dorkies had a lovely celebration.

    • Thank you! We had a wonderful time. Y bought me a book subscription which means our favourite bookstore will send me a surprise novel every month for the next year, so it’s a birthday that will really keep on giving!

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