There are loads of good things about hitting 30: in fact, I’d say that, so far, it’s the decade I’ve felt happiest, both with myself and with life in general. It’s undoubtedly a decade when lots of things fall into place – I for one have realised what’s important to me, I’ve banked a few useful lessons, and I’m trying to create a good life for myself. However, it’s also a bit of a limbo land – I’ve found making the transition between my young self and my more established self has been physically and psychologically challenging in many ways. Here’s a collection of the less great things that come with being in your thirties…
You will still have spots
Unfortunately, if (like me) you had problem skin as a teenager and twenty-something, it’s unlikely to magically clear up when you hit 30. I had always assumed that when my hormones settled down, my skin would, too. Despite me spending more time and money on my skin than ever before, and having less time at my disposal to pick at it (my worst habit), it still flares up the same as it did when I was 16. To add insult to injury, 30 is the age when you start to sport wrinkles as well as spots…
At the same time, you will start to go grey
I’m lucky because my hair is blonde with natural highlights, so although I’m sure I must be harbouring a few grey strands on my head, they’re not yet that noticeable. Brunettes can have it bad at this age, though. What do you do with grey hair you feel too young for? You either spend a lot of money dying it back to its natural colour (and feeling like the only person who’s doing so), you give into nature and genetics and just accept the change, or you go radical and dye your whole head a trendy shade of grey. I’d like to say I’d be in the latter, statement-making camp, but I’ll come back to you when it happens to me.
You pay through the nose for life stages past, present and future
Not only am I paying extortionate nursery fees to be able to go to work three days every week, but with the money I earn I have to pay back my student loan and put money aside for my pension. On top of that, I’m helping to pay off a mortgage that never seems to dip below the amount we originally borrowed – a sum so large that we’ll be about to retire as we pay it off. I want to go places and do fun things without spending whole evenings researching the absolute cheapest deal, and without feeling guilty for not saving the money I’m spending. At what age will I get to enjoy some of the cash I earn??!! Not my thirties, that’s for sure. (Sorry to all you twenty-somethings who already feel like this. I know, I know: at least I have a mortgage…)
You might have an early mid-life crisis
For me, my thirties have involved coming to terms with the career choices I made in my twenties, because even though I enjoy what I do, I can’t help wondering ‘what if…?’. Is this the best job I could have had, the best use of my abilities, and the best return on my parents’ investment in private education? Certainly, if I look at things from a financial standpoint, the answer is ‘no’.
At school, I and all my peers were told we could do anything, be anything – and we believed it. All we had to do was decide which road to choose. The older I’ve become, the more I realise quite how many doors to other galaxies I shut tight while forging ahead with my chosen career. When I meet anyone with a job that sounds interesting, I mentally trace the steps I would need to take to retrain in their field, and often it involves going so far back that I would have to do a completely different set of A-levels. When I’m having a bad day, this knowledge provides little consolation.
…especially if you compare yourself to your friends
It’s not just in our professional life that we make choices – our personal lives are shaped by our actions. I am really close to the girlfriends I grew up with, but it doesn’t mean that our lives and experiences are still identical. Some found love early and moved cities and even countries to make it work with their other half, others made a success out of their careers before settling down, and others have travelled extensively well into their thirties without being held back by a man or an ordinary nine-to-five. Is it healthy to compare our situations and wish for aspects of each other’s lives? All I know is that it’s completely normal, but not very helpful to the lives we’re each living.
What have you found difficult or surprising about your thirties?