I’m a couple of weeks away from entering my fourth decade, and although I’m supposed to be terrified, my overwhelming emotion is confusion. I’m perplexed. How can I possibly be turning 30?!
My twenties now feel like a total whirlwind of graduating, graduating again, a big career change, falling in love with running, falling in love with writing (again), falling in love with my boyfriend, falling over and breaking my ankle, acting like a complete twat, embarrassing myself, struggling deeply with my mental health, living through a global pandemic, buying my own little home, grieving, laughing, feeling immense gratitude, eating unhealthy amounts of peanut butter.
Amidst the confusion, I’m slowly beginning to feel a sense of clarity. Women are meant to be afraid of ageing, and society relies on us hating our reflection in the mirror. I don’t hate my reflection in the mirror, but I don’t love it either.
I don’t feel pressured to have children, but I do feel pressured to have children. I don’t feel pressured to tick metaphorical boxes, but I do feel pressured to tick metaphorical boxes. I’m just as full of contradictions and mayhem as I was a decade ago, but I’m also more confident, I’ve stopped caring so much and I’ve finally started to feel comfortable in my own skin. These are all horrible cliches, and I stand by them wholeheartedly.
The other day I reviewed my 30 before 30 list and was slightly horrified by the eight outstanding items. Then I remembered that I wrote this list of arbitrary achievements when I was in my early 20’s. ‘Arbitrary’ is a little unfair; I’m proud of running marathons and I’m even more proud of changing a lightbulb (see no. 10 on my list). Yet I’m saddened that I felt compelled to complete all these achievements prior to turning 30.
Why?! Nothing is suddenly less possible because I’m going from one decade to the next. On the contrary, I can now (kind of) handle finances like nobody’s business, thus making the outstanding eight items more possible.
Ultimately, I’m okay with the big 3-0. I’m living and breathing. I’m doing what I’m doing. I no longer feel the need to frantically tick off boxes, as if 30 is the milestone by which all success and happiness should be measured. I accept myself.