Thursday, 28 February 2013

Turning 30

I am currently hurtling full tilt, at warp speed, into my first cliche and I am kind of mad about it and yet at the same time powerless to stop it.

I try, and I think am fairly successful, to avoid being a cliche and really try to live my life how I wish to live it and not bow to external pressures (see how I cope with being in a long distance relationship for an example) but at the moment I am failing.

I am freaking out about turning 30.

I know it's ridiculous and I know it's silly and what's even worse is I know what's causing it - which should, in theory, mean I should be able to stop freaking out about it, but that appears to be one of those easier said than done things.

For me it is a scary age. It's my first big milestone and one where everyone else who is reaching it are at varying stages of their lives. The last big milestone birthday was 21 and, by and large, everyone who turned 21 with me was the same - still at uni, still ensconced in the student lifestyle, still convinced we were invincible and the world was ours for the taking, no responsibilities and few ties, all the time thinking that all that big Life Stuff would be sorted out by the time the next big birthday came around.

I noticed the divergences hit around the 25/26 mark. People started moving in with boyfriends. People started getting engaged. People started buying houses.

I did none of this and wasn't particularly fussed - I still had a kind of blind faith, based on absolutely nothing, that when I was 30 things would be 'sorted'.

I'm never entirely sure what 'sorted' in my head meant, but I believe it meant that at least one out of the following four things would have been achieved;
1. Own house
2. Fiance/husband
3. Child
4. Career

The years have gone on and with every wedding attended and every baby blanket made and every Welcome to your New Home card sent, a very slow but steady sense of disquiet has been growing in the pit of my stomach. Once 30 came within 6 months the panic has been relentlessly encroaching and growing and now, with 5 weeks to go, I feel like I'm at Defcon 2.

So let us see where I am according to the list above;

1. Own house - bar an unknown relative bequeathing money to me on their death or a Lottery win I have now pretty much accepted that I will never own a house. I'm pretty ok with that. However, at the moment I don't even rent a house. I don't really rent a room in a shared house. I live in my sister's box-room. This is not where I thought I would be at 30. I don't think this is where anyone aims to be at 30.

2. Fiance/husband - I have a lovely boyfriend, I'll concede this one, but at the moment I'm closer to landing on the moon than I am to getting a ring on my finger.

3. Child - I can't lie, this is the one that I find the hardest to deal with and I know it really does take me into the realm of cliche-dom. But I really did think I'd have a child by now. What really smarts is that if I were a less responsible person, I could have a baby now - but I don't believe I'm in the right situation to bring up a child how I would like to. And yes I know there's no perfect time to have a child but when you take Point 1 into consideration along with Point 4 coming up, and then throw in that The Person is in now way ready to have a child yet, I think we can all agree that this is not a good time to start spawning.

4. Career - I have been in my new job for 2 months. Instead of having been in one for 9 years, like those who left uni and started on their career path straight away. I am unbelievably grateful to just have a job and am even more so that I am enjoying it - but I didn't think I'd be at the bottom of the ladder at 30.

So there you have it. The reason I am desperate to hide my head under my pillow for the next 5 weeks and pretend it isn't happening. Also the reason I'm not choking at the bit to "celebrate". (Not helped by the fact I have discovered some "friends" are planning a trip away for their 30th birthdays to which I haven't been invited. Niiiiiiice.)

And oh my goodness I am well aware that I am being ridiculous. I am well aware I should be grateful for what I've got. I am well aware that I shouldn't be upset that my life isn't where I thought it would be when I was 21, a point in my life where I was incapable of thinking beyond the next Sambuca, much less forming a coherent life plan. I am even well aware that the 4 things on that list do not indicate how "successful" I've been at life.

However. The older we get, the harder it is to ignore the disparities between our life-path and those of the people around us which will almost inevitably lead us to question whether we're doing the "right" thing. And even if there is no such thing as "right", I believe that we, are at least some of us, are pack animals and are happiest fitting in with everyone else. I think I could accept not having achieved some of the things on that list if I had done something extraordinary with my life, but I haven't even done that - maybe that is what is most upsetting of all.

I am working on readjusting my thinking. Obviously I know 30 is still young (although my ovaries may disagree), however until I manage to do that, I reserve the right to carry on being a cliche and freak the freak out about turning 30.

(If you are tempted to leave me a comment saying I should be thankful I don't have the stress of mortgage payments or the horror of a baby who won't sleep at night, or the nightmare of planning of wedding - don't. For I would hate to have the inconvenience of going round to punch you in the face.)


  1. Its very difficult reconciling the image you always had of "how things would be" with how things actually are, or the reality of how they will probably be.

    I think that the ideas and aims for some of the things you've written up there are not helped by the fact that the economy went up the shitter. (down the shitter?) Our generation has things a whole lot harder than people did before in terms of buying a house and things like that.

    30 is still young. It's not even "old" to have a baby at 30. Just so you know. Just start preparing The Person now that one day you do expect to be upduffed and he'd better get used to it ;-)

    ps loves ya x

  2. (Eeee Heather said 'shitter'! Twice!)

    As you know I can totally relate to everything here, I had the same breakdown last year, and 12 months later things haven't changed much, but my outlook has a bit. Happiness lies in living your own life and NOT comparing yourself to other people. And if you MUST compare - do it with those girls from school who are twice-divorced and already a grandma - THAT always makes me feel young and carefree!

    Shocked about your so-called friends though, that really is pap. BUT. Are they holidaying in a MANOR? Are they RUNNING WITH THE ANIMALS?? No. xxx

  3. I also think of myself as someone who tries hard not to be squashed by external pressures of what you 'should' be doing in life but sometimes you can't prevent that mini freak out. And as you say, sometimes you can't help but compare yourself with others, even though that isn't what you normally do. It's only natural to reassess your life sometimes - and things can change quickly, so just because it isn't happening now doesn't mean it will never happen.
    With work - I try to keep in mind that since we'll have to work til about 75 that's another 45 years in the workplace. Don't want to peak too soon... :)

  4. My best friend spent the year before her 30th freaking out about it, threw a huge party and became very depressed about the whole thing (I think partly because she was making it into such a huge deal.) I didn't worry about it at all, did nothing and it passed painlessly.
    I actually liked being 30, as I hoped people might start treating me as an adult at last (one downside of looking younger than you are - see everything has a downside.)
    Here I am now many years later and still no husband or offspring, but I have never, ever wanted kids - I know I'm a freak.
    Yes everyone else my age seems to be married with kids and my life doesn't seem at all bad when I hear all the things they whinge about. Normal, whatever that may be, is boring. Individuality is good.

  5. As a blog lurker (hello!) I just wanted to impart some reassurances (and possibly patronising nonsense!) from an old 45yr old. Firstly - don't worry! Life just happens at different times. I had a child at 39 (unplanned as well) and it's been great. Okay, not that easy for everyone, but I know a lot of people who had kids 35 or later. It's pretty much the norm with my peer group. Career - it doesn't really matter so much in the long term. You seem to really like your job, which is the main thing. And your relationship sounds pretty good as well - a lot of people would love to have that.

    At 30 I was living in Amsterdam, child free on a temp job. I am now a 45yr old house owning mother with a sensible job, wondering what happened and planning how to get my fun life back. There sounds like there is a lot of good things with what you have - "settling down" really isn't all that!


  6. I understand how freaked out you feel. On my 30th birthday, I shut myself in my bedroom and cried all day. Awesome. I'm facing my 40th birthday this year and hopefully it will be more fun. As someone with 10 years on you, I *still* haven't got everything sorted. I have my own flat, but only because I was lucky enough to get a loan from a housing association for the deposit. Otherwise I would have had no chance. I'm not married, I don't have a child and I see my career as just a job now. I know I'm not going to get far up the career ladder and the things that give me the most pleasure are those I do outside of work. I have a dear friend who is over 60 and I asked her once when you feel you've got things in life sorted. She said she's still waiting. Just try and enjoy the moment if you can and have lots of fun on your birthday!

  7. Even if you believe you are being ridiculous, it's hard to shake a deeply ingrained perception of how your world "should" be. I was the same when I hit 30. I had been sick for 3 years so I had no job, and I was "sponging" off my boyfriend. My boyfriend was very anti-marriage and we were talking about the fact we were never going to have children because of my health. I had to accept that I wasn't going to have my health, a family, a husband, my own home or a career. That was really really hard to get my head around and then I got to 30, and then 31 and I started to accept my life and my place in the world. I'm not saying it is easy to shift your perceptions, but if I can do it, then so can you! I am now swiftly approaching 40 and I can honestly say, hand on heart, that my 30s were the best years of my life. I was happy with my lot. I have a wonderful man who is more committed to me than most husbands are to their wives, I have wonderful nephews and nieces who fill my life with their joy and I share my boyfriend's house and it has become our home. My career will never amount to much more than having a few pattern sales and a few hits on my blog, but it occupies me and keeps my brain working. I still don't have my health, but I am happy.

    I really hope that you find your way to finding what it is that makes you truly happy and revelling in it. I'm sure that you too will relish your 30s!

  8. When I was thirty, I had no career, no husband, no house, and no children. Mucho years on I still don't own a house (mortgages freak me out), my career is on ice, but the baby and boyfriend thing (marriage really freaks me out) have worked out. Apart from a vague idea that I would be running a Polish restaurant by the time I was 40 (and that never happened), I never really thought about 'significant' birthdays. Thing is, unless you are one of those weirdos who totally plan their lives and work to scheduled goals (freaks!) you just don't know what the future will bring, so don't worry too much about it.

    ps#1. turning 40 was quite nice, I actually started to feel like a grown up
    ps#2. love Heather's "upduffed"

  9. I've got none of those things above...I have a gap year job and I don't even have a boyfriend. The guy I am a little bit in love with just has no clue and doesn't want me which is heartbreaking... I always thought I'd have some of those things too but life doesn't always work out that way. Some of us just have to learn to handle it - or at least try and get by...

    I do have sunshine this morning though and Blur Tender played very loud. Little things are a comfort. Keep trusting you may just one day get the things you so desire...take little steps where possible. Big hug from someone who knows how you feel 100% xxx

  10. PS Avoid 'boastbook ' -or facebook and also remember things change all the time too. x

  11. Personally I think you are rather awesome and by the sounds of things so do a hell of a lot of other people. I shuttle between being completely blase (I'm only 23! I have my whole life ahead of me!) and panicking massively (OMG where is my life going?!) so I think there is no proper age to have it all "sorted" by!

    Maria xxx

  12. Just enjoy your life as it is and time will bring more lovely things. x

  13. I had the same feelings at 21 and then again at 30, which was my worst birthday by far. My recent 40th was amazing in contrast. Sometimes things don't happen to us at the time we expect them. Just makes them all the more amazing when/if they do happen later and makes sure we appreciate them.

  14. I think it's so wonderful that you can be so honest, so many people have the 'I'm fine, everything's great' mentality and they never seem to grasp the ability to be honest with themselves and those around them! That being said, you still have so much of your life ahead of you :) and you still have so much time :) No ones life goes the way they expect it too, if it did...well that would be pretty boring! You can achieve anything you want to, never give up on living YOUR life. Forget about others around you, trust me things are never as rosy as they seem! You'll be fine :)

    Rachel @ AMomentInTime.

  15. You have every right to feel what ever it is you feel. I am 37, live with my partner but no mortgage, no kids and no wedding bells any time soon. What you're feeling is natural, the question is what do you do with those feelings? How do you move on? It's just a number (sorry BIGGEST cliche in the book) but its making you question things, which is all good and healthy. You don't have to do what everyone else is doing - but you know that already, you've had life experiences that they haven't, and when things start to change you'll be ready and safe in the knowledge that these are the things you want.
    Enjoy your birthday, it's a shame to waste it.

  16. Lots of love to you. I am at the point in my life when things are starting to diverge- and particularly in the BF stakes I feel far, far behind. And now I'm starting to resign myself to the fact that things won't be how I always expected them to be when I was little.

    And your friends suck for not inviting you- it's happened to me too. Feels RUBBISH.

    So yeah, as all the other (much wiser) comments say, you are definitely not alone in this! xx

  17. If it helps at all, I'm still freaking out - only now, fast approaching 47 (whaaaaat??? how the hell did that happen???!) the freaking out happens with increasing intensity on at least an annual basis!
    Actually, that's probably no help at all...feel free to pop round and punch me...

  18. I have been feeling certain pressures lately and if I'm being totally honest - it's been niggling me my entire adult life.
    I can't help but compare my life to others and I feel so left behind when it comes to the important grown-up stuff.
    Life is a bit of a gamble, nobody knows what path they are heading on, it's such a tough ride - I at least know that.
    I sometimes feel like my life is completely upside down and back to front. Age is just a number though, and that's all it will ever be.

  19. I understand your anxieties- If I hadn't had ideas in my mind as a young girl, opposite to yours, I might feel the same too. I turned 30 two years ago and I suddenly felt old! However, as a girl, I always had this idea in my mind that I wouldn't get married, have children or own a house (not because I didn't want 2 out of the 3) but I just didn't think that I would do those things- but I am a bit obtuse!x

  20. It's rubbish sometimes being a girl and feeling that clock ticking away. Men are so lucky to not have that pressure. I wish sometimes we could make them understand without making them panic! Huge love to you.

  21. I don't have any and I'm 25 now. My friends spend a lot of time setting me up and reassuring me that I won't be forever alone and patronising me by saying my job is nice for a bit of pocket money. Well, not my best friends but you know those ones form school who have it all? House, husband, baby and job? SMUG!! I fear I will still be living at home in 10 years time xx

  22. I noticed this blog was started about 6 months ago...and here I am a stranger...4am...typed in google search "Freaking out about turning 30" because it's all I can do to fight back tears of panic about turning 30 this weekend. This blog among quite a few others came up. I think it's humorous and ironic how the common thread through all the various responses, though softened with reassurance for the future, was the hard truth that this birthday is still going to suck :(. My one solace is that I am not alone and that it's normal to feel this way. Thank you for being my friends...because right now you all seem to be the only ones who understand.

    1. Hi Rebecca.

      Glad to know I'm not the only one who suffered/is suffering with some anxiety about turning 30!

      4 months after turning 30 I can confirm that I have made it through alive and well. The anxieties? Honestly they're still there a little bit but nowhere near as bad as they were. Turns out that turning 30 is just like every other day - except you get some good presents!

  23. I noticed this blog was started about 6 months ago...and here I am a stranger...4am...typed in google search "Freaking out about turning 30" because it's all I can do to fight back tears of panic about turning 30 this weekend. This blog among quite a few others came up. I think it's humorous and ironic how the common thread through all the various responses, though softened with reassurance for the future, was the hard truth that this birthday is still going to suck :(. My one solace is that I am not alone and that it's normal to feel this way. Thank you for being my friends...because right now you all seem to be the only ones who understand.

  24. When you start to panic, you start to change, when you start to change, stuff around you starts to change, your performance at work, your relationship (or prospective relationships)... People start to avoid you (like your friends, sadly) you're making things worse... Trust me, been there


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