10 things I’ve learnt since turning 30

October 22, 2014

Seeing as Rachel turned 30 the other week, and Rose’s 30th is coming up before the end of the year, I think it falls to me as the tribe ‘elder’ (that’s 32 – just) to impart some words of wisdom as to what to expect on the other side. Here follows what scant enlightenment my thirties have brought me so far…
Ten things I've learnt since turning 30 | Everyday30

1. Sleep trumps all of life’s other pleasures – so order a decaf. There’s something BC/AD about ordering your first decaf – it shows a distancing from your devil-may-care, stimulant-fuelled past in favour of the certainty of a good night’s sleep. I used to think nothing of knocking back an espresso – an espresso! – after dinner; I would then trot off to bed for eight hours of deep, uninterrupted slumber. These days, that sort of caffeine injection is waaay too risky. So, decaf it is.

2. Choose your hangovers carefully. This is doubly important with children. I work to the rule that I can have either a late night or a lot to drink – both options will make me feel equally rough the following day. But a night of heavy drinking that stretches into the wee hours? Unavoidable hangover hell. Make sure it’s for a worthwhile cause.

3. Things that seemed daring or counter-culture in your twenties are just plain embarrassing now. Drugs and alcoholic excess are obvious examples here, but I’m reminded more of my petty infringements of the law, such as weeing between parked cars on a drunken night out or jumping the tube fare. At the time, I reasoned that I could brazen it out if I was caught, but when you’ve passed 30, that option is unthinkable. I’m inclined to think tattoos have a 29-year cut-off point, too – am I right?

4. The career choices you make at 18 can impact your relationships. In my thirties, I finally accepted the fact that I can’t keep up with the lifestyle of some of my lifelong friends. That’s because those who pursued gold-plated careers such as law, medicine or accountancy are now reaping the rewards, while I opted for journalism. This doesn’t mean I’ve ditched friends who have made it in high-paying sectors; just that I opt out of certain get-togethers for purely financial reasons. At least my bank manager thanks me.

5. Friendships are fluid – especially in your thirties. Once I hit thirty, I realised what a kaleidoscope of experiences this decade is, and how much our friendships are tested because of it. Currently, due to our different life choices, some of my friends and I have very little in common except the past. In the future, I know this will all come out in the wash, so I’m hanging in there. But finding common ground while respecting and accepting each other’s various life stages can be hard.

6. There are no Hollywood moments. For a long time I was a sucker for those Damascene scenes when the leading man realises the humdrum protagonist is an 18-carat beauty, or a passing showbiz type discovers the next big thing humming to herself as she cleans dishes. But finally I accepted that these fantasies just do not apply to real life (likewise intense first kisses and attractive sex). Now I work on the assumption that everyone around me is too busy thinking about themselves to notice what I do. And on that subject…

7. You have to shout about yourself. At school, we are taught to work hard for hard work’s sake. But actually, no one notices the worker bees. If I dutifully plug away at my to-do list and meet every deadline, I will rarely get anything except a cursory pat on the back (and a monthly wage, obviously). So I have two options: either I stop producing work and meeting deadlines, getting myself fired in the process, or I tell my managers regularly and loudly about all the work I’m doing and how well I’m doing it.

8. The respect that age brings with it is not as thrilling as you expect. As a teenager, I was thrilled when people thought I was older than my years. In my twenties, I hated making complaints because nobody took me seriously. Now I’ve realised respect is a double-edged sword, because people start addressing you as ‘Madam’. Sob.

9. No one has a dream job. When I started my job as a restaurant reviewer (yes, really), I was in heaven – but the truth is that every job has its soul-sapping elements. Brain surgeons, charity workers, make-up artists, accountants – God, especially accountants – all have down days. GPs are well paid but spend a lot of time signing sick notes. Teachers get amazing holidays but their day-to-day is dominated by paperwork, politics and policing. Even A-list actors cite long hours and months away from their families. As the man says, they call it work for a reason.

10. Keep your friends close but your family closer. My teenage years were all about sacrificing my parents in the quest for my own identity. My twenties were (and will no doubt forever remain) my most sociable decade, when all I cared about was pleasing my friends (and myself, natch). Now though, I finally appreciate what unsung heroes my parents are, and how much they do for me. Yes, friends are the family you choose, but those relationships require a lot more effort and maintenance than blood ties. And the friends who count treat you like family anyway.

What do you agree – and disagree – with in this list? What would you add?

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    Reply Sabrina October 23, 2014 at 9:52 am

    Oh yeah 4,5,9 & 10: #truth
    Good list!

    • Reply Nicky October 24, 2014 at 8:25 am

      Ha ha, thanks Sabrina! I must say, I don’t always manage to learn from my own lessons – but I did order a decaf after dinner last night! x

    Reply kathryn November 1, 2014 at 10:46 pm

    Love the 30s wisdom list Nicky. Sleep definitely has climbed the priority list! Also, I think number 7 is sadly very true and being too modest is what holds many women back in their career progression. That’s why you ladies are doing a great job in promoting your blog, and rightly so, it’s a great read and feels like my new favourite magazine. Keep up the great work, I’m enjoying reading. Kathryn

    • Reply Nicky November 2, 2014 at 8:03 pm

      Thanks so much Kathryn! Glad you’re enjoying the blog xx

    Reply Brighton Mama November 6, 2014 at 12:39 pm

    Hello, found this through #brilliantblogposts – have also shared my recent blog post with my first link 🙂 Being in my early 30s I can relate to a lot of what you say. There are some disappointments and realisations (especially in terms of friendships) but then there are also lots of positives. I think you definitely know what you want in your 30s and aren’t scared to shout about it or just go for it, you have more experience and confidence 🙂

    • Reply Nicky November 11, 2014 at 9:43 am

      I agree Brighton Mama – I love growing in confidence the older I get and having to wield less bravado. Thanks for the comment, will check out your posts shortly!

    Reply Katy {What Katy Said} November 7, 2014 at 4:26 pm

    I turned 30 in March and agree with every single point you have made! I so wish I had known it all at 18 though as I neglected my family for so long during my late teens/ early twenties. Love the point about hangovers- I barely drink now as it is just not worth the fallout!

    • Reply Nicky November 11, 2014 at 9:41 am

      Thanks Katy – I remember breaking down in tears of gratitude after a long day moving into our first flat with my parents’ help. My parents left us to it at midnight (having hardly even stopped for lunch) and started the three-hour drive back to their house from London, all the while being incredibly cheerful and lovely. I suddenly felt so guilty for all the strops I’d thrown as a teenager!

    Reply Honest Mum November 10, 2014 at 7:48 pm

    Couldn’t agree more, friendships are tested and new ones made post kids I’ve found and you are so right about keeping family close, LOVED this post! Thanks for linking up to #brilliantblogposts

    • Reply Nicky November 11, 2014 at 9:36 am

      Thanks for the comment – yes, it’s a pity we spend all of our teenage years keeping our distance from our families!

    Reply Hayley Daley-Hannibal August 2, 2015 at 5:42 am

    This was so fun to read. I’ve recently turned 30 and am starting to realise that I can’t do things i did in my twenties too. 😉 well more i don’t want too.

    • Reply Nicky August 3, 2015 at 7:18 pm

      Ha ha, thanks Hayley, really nice of you to say. And congratulations on turning 30 – it’s definitely been my best decade so far 🙂 x

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