On the 10th June 2017, I will have spent 3 decades of life, on Earth, as me, Shoshana.
With this looming date approaching, I’ve been on a bit of an emotional journey.
The first feeling on my emotional map was one of fear mixed in with a dash of panic.
Second came a cocktail of shock and disbelief. I may not be the best at maths, but can I really be turning 30? Is that actually possible?
And to my relief, my third feeling has been acceptance, but more on that later.
I know I’m not the only one to turn 30 or hit a big, grown up birthday milestone this year, so let’s talk.
illustration by Shoshy Cadoodle
Let’s talk openly and honestly. ABOUT FEELINGS.
Where did my fear come from? It’s only a birthday after all. Birthdays are fun. Age is just a number and… blah blah blahdey blah.
I’m sure you’ve heard it all before. Maybe there have even been times you’ve been the one saying these “comforting”, “reassuring”, lines to someone else. Now, that’s all very well and good, but let’s face it. Life is short. I’m lucky to have good genes and relatives that seem to live well into their 80s, 90s and 100s. But, say I live to 100, that means I have completed about a third of my life already. Taking in that thought is part of where the fear kicked in. The other part, when the panic came rocking up, was when I started reflecting on what my impressions of 30 year olds had been, up until now. For some reason (let’s blame society), I had this standard checklist in my mind for someone in their 30s.
Career: figured out and flourishing.
Confidence level: soaring.
Relationship status: solid.
The thing is, in my mid to late 20s I was still frantically working away at my checklist and it wasn’t as simple as doing the thing and ticking it off the list.
What I’ve learnt is that education is something you will (hopefully) be immersing yourself in consistently, spanning your entire life. Not necessarily in school, college or university, but by being out there in the world and participating in it. You’ve got to do things. Actually do them! You’ll learn from trying things and failing things. From making a big fool out of yourself. And, thankfully, you’ll also learn from occasionally succeeding in things. You’ll learn from talking to people about intellectual stuff and from chatting to them about the mundane, the silly and the absurd. Education comes from hiding away and burying your head in a book. Or a blog. Or from binge-watching YouTube videos! You’ll learn all sorts of bits and pieces from simply going out and living, breathing, doing, trying, failing, getting back on your feet and doing it all again. You won’t know what you’re learning at the time and some of it will be useful and some of it might useless, but education won’t ever be something you can cross off your list forever. And in reality you wouldn’t want it to be like that, because you’d simply get bored.
As for my career and confidence, it’s been a road full of twists and turns, some dead ends, but nothing I couldn’t do a U-turn on and recalculate the route. I reckon the secret is, however successful you are, you will always feel like this. So, instead of feeling at a loss of never arriving, I’ve learnt to keep on going, enjoy the journey and keep up my ability to U-turn or do a 3 point turn where necessary.
I feel pretty blessed to have met Meredith when I did and I’m happy to say that I did get my happily-ever-after love story. It’s feels great to be able to confidently tick at least one thing off the list.
But there are plenty of other incredible things that I’ve achieved and discovered in my 30 years too, like:
Learning to walk and talk
Developing a love of creativity and an ability to make art
Surviving a mental illness and rebuilding my mental health
Passing my driving test, driving in England, France and America
Gaining a university degree despite dropping out of school at 16 years old
Moving to a new country and starting from scratch with my friendship circle
Coming out as bi, living life true to myself and finding my own network of support
Starting my own business and getting paid for what I love doing
Teaching workshops, developing my leadership skills and inspiring people to flex their creative muscles
2. Shock and disbelief
As I said, I’m not the best at maths, and it’s so hard to believe I’ve done 30 years here on this planet! Truth be told, I am not joking. I really am bad at maths! Mental arithmetic has always been something I struggle with and I don’t know how I got away with it, but, just off the record, my secret is that I got through Primary School without really knowing my times tables. This is one of those things that makes me think, am I really 30 years old? I don’t feel 30 years old! Surely I’m nowhere near clever enough or grown up enough to pass as a 30 year old woman?
Well, my Great Grandma Ray always said, even when she was about 90-something, that she still felt just like a teenager. It is strange to me, how we keep changing our whole entire lives, but somehow, a lot of us, never really feel quite grown up enough to match our age. Maybe that old saying, age is just a number, really does have some truth to it after all.
Days before my 30th birthday, I have signed myself up for a maths assessment from my local council to enrol on an adult education course that I hope will boost my numeracy skills and hopefully feel a little less embarrassed about them. Whether it’ll help me feel 30, well, only time will tell!
At last! I arrived at the feeling of acceptance. I was born in the late eighties on the Queen’s birthday. I grew up as a nineties kid with scrunchies and the Spice Girls and I’ll be 30 this summer, no matter what. I’ve decided I may as well relax about it, embrace it and enjoy it. I’m incredibly excited for the next chapter in my life. Will this chapter bring kids? How will my career develop? Will I make new life-long friendships? What will I learn this decade?
It’s all about to unfold, so I’ve chosen to accept it with delight and welcome in my thirties, with a big old, “Hello thirties, make yourself at home!”
And to anyone else about to hit a noteworthy birthday, cheers to you and your time here on Earth! I hope you’ve also reached the mindset of embracing yourself as you are and feeling excited about the future, however many years you’ve lived.
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