Hello dirty thirty…
When I was child I remember thinking that the kids who lived in the close round the corner who were 17, were proper fully fledged adults. I thought when I too turned 17 I would know what was up and have my s**t together. Turns out when I was 17 I had a terrible boyfriend who thought that making me jealous by slithering around with an array of his ex-girlfriends was the ideal basis for a relationship, A-Level stress that bought on regular bouts of IBS and a vast collection of suede slouch boots with tassels funded by my Saturday job and Thursday night delivery shifts. I’m over egging it for dramatic effect, but it’s fair to say that I’m happy to see the back of my teenage years and actually I’m ok waving goodbye to my twenties too, (although they have been much better to me for the most part), because I am now a card-carrying member of the thirty-something crew. HELLO 30.
To mark this momentous occasion – which actually happened almost two weeks ago now, oops – I thought I’d dig around in my brain and put fingertips to keyboard in an attempt to articulate some thoughts about the shift; the good, the bad and the hangovers…
Everyone keeps asks how I feel and you know, I feel great. LIFE IS GOOD. My friends and family are happy and healthy, my partner in crime these days is a vast upgrade from my teenage years and I thank my lucky stars everyday that he has stuck around and I’m #blessed to have a career in an industry that I dreamt of being part of ever since I’d put my Mum’s deodorant in my Barbie’s hair pretending it was hairspray.
This time in my life feels pretty darn fab and you know all the cliches that people throw around about ‘feeling more comfortable in your skin‘ and ‘knowing yourself more with each birthday that passes‘? I’ve found them to ring true. I’m grateful for my body and for it’s ability to move and deal with pretty much everything that I throw at it and no longer count the rolls in my belly when I’m leant over the bath washing my hair. I adore spending weekends with friends when they come to visit and get in regular catch-ups with my girls who I’ve known since we were 11, but I know my social boundaries and when it’s time to hunker down with a book and look out the window when it’s raining and pretend I’m in a music video (some things never change). I feel like I’ve got a better gauge on my emotions, am far less dramatic and able to have difficult conversations without feeling like I’m two heartbeats away from going into cardiac arrest. I’m better with money, enjoy saving (WHO AM I?!) and know I’m getting old because I will rant about the benefits of investing in Premium Bonds with anyone who will listen. I sweat the small stuff way less and my gut feeling just keeps getting strengthening (although my IBS is thankfully long gone). Turns out that 30 feels very similar to 29 – surprise, surprise – but I’m ready for whatever this next decade has in store. Except if it’s haemorrhoids. If I could bypass those that would be great. Thanks.
Of course every life milestone has it’s challenges and it feels like the older you get, the higher stakes they are. I try my best not to focus on these worries, as most are ones that I can’t change the outcomes of through my actions anyway, but every now again they bubble up to the surface and I have to take a moment. Whilst I’m ok with getting older, it sucks that other people that I love are getting older too. Having already lost one set of Grandparents, you can’t help but want to spend every possible second you can with everyone that’s left; although I try to see the positive in that and attempt to prioritise family time over anything and everything else. I’m sure that my family are probably quite sick of seeing my face and that’s the way I’d rather have it.
The other thing that sucks are expectations. Of course we all have expectations put on us by friends, family, ourselves (and in my case the people of the Internet too – LOVE YOU, promise!), and quite often they are tethered to age and big birthdays in particular. I will admit that daydreaming teenage me would probably have expected to have a kid or two by now. My Mum had me when she was 27, so I always thought I’d have kids at a similar age until I was actually 27 and realised how ‘OMG! NO WAY! NO THANK YOU!’ huge the whole thing was. And even now I’ve jumped over into the thirty-something territory, it’s still not something I feel ready for. From what other parents have told me it’s not something that ever feel particularly ready for, especially when it comes to career and finances and living situations, but right now it’s something that I find, well, terrifying and I’m pretty sure that’s not the headspace you find yourself in when you feel like it might be time to try and expand your family. Mark and I are both happy with our current child-free situation and the only annoying thing I have to endure are the occasional ‘I think she’s pregnant/She looks rounder in the face’ YouTube comments which are always fun and a good reminder to perhaps not head back for that *second* bowl of Coco Pops, so thanks for that.
Ah yes. The hangovers. I still remember my first one. It was during our first term of University and up until that point I had never felt grim from alcohol. I felt confident that I could knock back any combination of liquor and still feel as bright as a button the next day. HA. The arrogance! I soon learnt my lesson after a night drinking what was known at Nottingham Uni as ‘Karni-Cocktail‘ and ended up dry retching on the communal stairs the next morning on the way to breakfast as my lovely roommate ran to get me a hairband. I have never really been much of a drinker, and especially after *that* episode which wasn’t too fab for an emetophobe like myself. Maybe it’s in my blood; my Mum gets tipsy from a tiramisu and the only time I’ve ever seen my Dad worse for wear was at our wedding day when our mates made it their personal mission to ply him with White Russians. But these days when I do drink, the hangovers are REAL. Like ‘Just been ran over in Mario Kart whilst tiny from the lighting bolt and now I’m flattened‘ real.
I’d say five is the magic number. Under that and we’re all good, I’m probably a bit louder and more annoying than I usually am, but I sleep well and can function well the next day, but over that and I spend the whole night tossing and turning, only to fall asleep at 7am and open my bleary eyes around midday. A wasted day and a muzzy head – nineteen year old me would be shaking her head. This is a great thing to remind myself of on the eve of my 30th birthday party actually. A PARTY!? I know. I haven’t had a party since my fourth birthday when I was such a brat at losing the pass-the-parcel, that my parents stood true to their vow to never hold one for me again. But 26 years later I feel I’m ready to get back into the game. Booze, music, takeout pizza and all my favourite people crammed into our flat. What’s the betting that I sleep through till Monday?! See you on the other side…
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Photos by Mark Newton