Someone, somewhere, decades ago made an assumption that has caused hoards of young adults to enter panic storms in their late twenties ever since.
Aforementioned dickhead, made the assumption that by thirty, a certain set of criteria, milestones and achievements should be reached and those that had not quite got there had, in some way, failed.
For years, thirty has been such a thing. A date and calendar mark by which so much is judged. From a time when people didn’t consider it utterly bonkers to get married at 21 and be responsible for another human life shortly after; from an age where women plus work wasn’t a consideration, let alone a woman wanting and enjoying a career; from a bygone time when we died young and thirty marked somewhat of a halfway (or nearly there) point comes such an overhang.
An antiquated and absurd view that by thirty so much life shit should be order, and if it’s not, put simply – we’ve fucked it.
“How does it feel?” – fly through the text messages off well wishes to friends on the morning of their thirtieth day, as if they’ve been diagnosed with something terminal.
“Thirty, ey? Better get cracking girl, wedding, kids, the lot” someone pissedly propositioned me with at my party a few weeks back.
“What’s on your before thirty bucket list?” another asked.
I’m turning thirty.
I’m not dying.
Why does thirty mean a rush to the finish? A rush to Boots to OD on Pregnacare and a hurried drive down to the estate agent to put a deposit down on a flat you don’t like, in an area you can’t stand on a mortgage you can’t really afford. A rush down the aisle, a rush to resign yourself to the fact that ‘the fun years’ are done.
Why is not just another birthday, with limited expectations and a chance to celebrate, reflect and not spend 4 hours down a bottle of Prosecco induced ShouldWouldaCoulda tears?
For it is just another year. And at current life expectancy rates, marks nothing more than being a third of the way through. The last third was largely made up of you either being a child or a nineteen year old twat, so most of that doesn’t count as a time that you could have legitimately paved your path.
This third, this next third is the exciting one. The third of nice holidays (because you don’t think a twelve quid hostel is appropriate accommodation any longer), of good wine, quality time spent with people you actually want to see, not those you think you should. Of knowing a bit more about yourself and being a tad more comfortable in your skin. Of feeling more able to say ‘no’ and more equipped to walk away when you feel you need to.
This third is potentially one of next steps. But the steps you choose. Not the ones some prick forty years ago determined.
Maybe those next steps for you are meeting someone you want to spend more than one night a week with. Maybe they’re not. Maybe those steps are moving abroad, jacking in your job and seeing more of the world. Maybe they’re not. Maybe they’re one of being content on your own, in your own space, doing exactly what the fuck you want and eating microwave meals straight out the dish they came in. Maybe they’re not. Maybe they’re kids. Maybe they’re cars. Maybe they’re wanting to spend at least another six years working your way through Bumble.
Whatever they are, they’re yours. And if you don’t settle until your sixty, so what?
So, let’s raised a glass to turning the notion of thirty on its head. Of resetting the milestones and realising it’s literally just another day.
At 00:01 tomorrow morning the world won’t implode because the pre-30 to-do list hasn’t been ticked off.
And any ‘bucket list’ I may have drawn up won’t suddenly expire because…
Tomorrow I turn thirty, I don’t turn dead.
So, cheers to that.