I turned 30 last week. The big 3-0. As I lay here looking at the slightly deflated ‘30’ balloons still hanging off the walls and the ‘Happy 30th Birthday’ banners starting to droop from the heat, I really can’t believe I have been alive for 30 years. Why is 30 so profound? Was my 20th year this weird for me?
More importantly, how had I made it this long with all my limbs intact?
The day before my birthday, Paul turned to me and said: “It’s your last day in your 20s”. I knew that already but hearing those words out loud really hit me – I will no longer be a woman in her 20s. Mentally I do not feel much older than 21 (if that), and although I have some wrinkles popping up in a few places, overall, having made it through 30 years of quite an ‘interesting’ life, I have fared quite well. I think my problem is with the number itself and what it represents, rather than my actual age.
I am not at the same place in life as a lot of my friends. Most of my friends are well into a career they’ve spent a decade working towards, some are married with a house and mortgage and some are now even having babies. Some friends have hit a home run in each area of their lives and some are stronger in one area. However, my life journey has not been so linear – in any arena.
I was once engaged and on the road to the traditional life – to be married with a mortgage and babies by 30 – but at 26, I decided I was not living the life I wanted and threw a mini grenade into the centre of my life. Over the years, travelling took precedent over my career. I travelled S.E. Asia, worked and lived in South Korea, moved to Melbourne and over the years I have lived in more places in England than I care to remember. Even now, as a Financial Contractor, I dart between my temporary home in Leicester, my boyfriend’s home in Reading and my family home in Wales. When I tell people about my life, they comment that I live a nomadic existence. I suppose I do.
At times I worry about the years I may have wasted: in the wrong relationships, in the wrong jobs and at times, in the wrong mind set. I get envious of those around me who have their own homes, happy marriages and babies on the way; but for me, even though I am not where I thought I would be at 30, I wouldn’t change a thing.
I am on my own individual journey and life is unfolding exactly how it was always meant to.
I have lived through so many different experiences, I have met a vast array of people and I am pretty sure I could have died about 4 times over by now – but I am here and I am stronger than I have ever been. I am focused, I know what I want and I no longer feel the need to meet anyone else’s expectations. This type of self-assurance and confidence can only be attained over years of life experience. Everyone I speak to in their 30s agrees that they are happier than they ever were in their 20s. So, I really am happy to be in my 30s; I think it is just a weird adjustment and maybe some added anxiety about fulfilling my life-long dream of becoming a published writer.
I have always known I want to be a writer. I have been writing as long as I can remember. I used to design my own magazines and write my own Dear Deirdre letters for the help section. I wrote fairy tales about magical dragons and potions and submitted short stories to publishers. At 7 or 8 years old I went to my mum’s room, instructed her to close her eyes and then played her an instrumental song on a cassette tape while I told her a story of a sad woman who drove off a cliff. I was a bizarre child, but damn my imagination was incredible.
I wrote children’s stories, romantic stories, and I even wrote dark stories of loss and pain. At the age of 15, I wrote about lost love and a girl who died from aids; I then submitted it for my GSCE essay and received an A*. God knows what my teacher must have thought. My mind was a world full of crazy, but I knew how to express it and my creativity was firing on all pistols.
Then life happened; I found alcohol, boys and reasons to misbehave. I went to uni and became distracted with all the exciting career options opening up to me and the allure of travelling the world, and before I knew it… I was on a different path.
It wasn’t until April this year that I finally decided enough was enough. I was 30 this year and still felt like I was wandering aimlessly through life. Sitting on a bean bag on the roof top of a hostel in Costa Rica, surrounded by so much beauty and tranquility, I was hit with a bolt of lightning.
What am I doing? I know what I want. I know what I love. I keep dabbling in writing and then worrying I am too old to change my career and then retreating in fear. Suddenly, there I was, 30 in 4 months’ time and realising that no matter my age, I will never be satisfied if I do not live and breathe a career in writing.
I am not sure if it is the fear surrounding my age that has made me more driven and determined than ever before, or whether I am now just more mentally strong and self-aware than I ever was in my 20s; but this is a profound time in my life right now. I am making things happen. I am going after what I have always wanted and nothing is going to stop me.
I maintain that seeing 30 on a balloon is freaking weird; and I do not know how I will react when I have to fill out my new age on a legal document that would frown upon me lying, but I am proud to be 30. So what if I don’t have a home or any real adult responsibilities; I have a wonderful boyfriend, beautiful friends, a loving family and a desire for life and writing that will never be quenched.
The balloon may say 30, but my heart and mind are ageless.