Ever since I started listening to a friend’s podcast about turning thirty (it’s really great you can check it out over here) I’ve been thinking about that looming milestone more and more, mainly because it feels fucking terrifying.
I have a close group of friends I met during my first year of university and we are all (generally speaking) 28 this year. Some of us recently caught up in Wellington, and many of our brunch conversations focused around the pressures and fears of getting older. Issues debated included: Are we on the right career path? What even is a career path? Will we ever be in the financial position to own a home? Was going to university a good life choice? Shouldn’t we have a five year plan by now? Oh shit, people we know are getting married and having babies, should we be doing that? Do we look like people in their late twenties? Should we be using eye cream by now? Basically we all wanted to know what exactly we should be doing with our lives. Of course none of us had any concrete answers (apart from the eye cream one – apparently yes we should be jumping on that bandwagon now).
No one really knows what we should be doing as that big thirtieth birthday creeps up. Everybody is leading such different lives that there can’t be universal answers to these questions. Some of my friends are completing postgraduate degrees, others are working full time, others part time. Everybody is in different industries/fields. Some know what they want to do career wise, others are still working it out. Some have been relationships with their significant others for so many years they have reached double digit anniversaries (ahhhhh) and are thinking about getting married, some are married and some are happily single. The one unifying factor of our lives these days really seems to be that we are all plagued by this worry that there are things we should be doing or have done by the time we hit thirty. And while the big 3 0 is still 2 years away for me and my friends, it feels like it is drawing ominously closer, and at much quicker pace than any of us expected.
I think the real sense of panic, we and a lot of people feel, stems from the belief that by thirty you should have your shit together, you should pretty much be a proper adult. I mean most of our parents had at least one baby by thirty and a house… But I don’t feel like a proper adult yet, not by a long shot, and I don’t think I will at thirty either. Most of the time I feel like I’m bumbling round in the dark hoping I bump into a good decision now and again. I am still working on being a financially responsible human, I don’t own a house and looking after a gluten intolerant kitten (I know, it’s ridiculous) feels like more than enough responsibility for me right now. And maybe that’s okay? No one I know really has it all together yet, not even those who are thirty plus, perhaps “having it all together” is something that never really happens. Life would be super boring if we knew all the answers anyway, not know what you are doing keeps things exciting.
Logically we all know these big milestone birthdays are not as big of deal as we make them out to be. We don’t wake up a completely decrepit old person on the morning of our thirtieth birthday, you will still be the same person you were the day before. You don’t have to have it all together by thirty, it’s fine to be in whatever stage of life you are in when the big birthday hits. No one is going to call you out on it. I feel a bit better about things when I think about how I would talk to a friend about turning thirty, frankly I wouldn’t care what they were up to as long as they are happy (and that they knew that it was time to start using eye cream – no one wants premature wrinkles).
Nevertheless turning thirty still terrifies me.