Turning 30 is a big deal for many reasons. While you may have to contend with the loss of your 20s and the knowledge that you’re definitely never making it on one of those 30 under 30 lists, there’s a huge array of positives that come with life in your 30s.
Reaching 30 is like getting an upgrade after years of flying economy. There’s an intrinsic shift: after years of niggling self-doubt and insecurity, you suddenly feel more grounded. You are experienced enough to avoid the mistakes you made when you were younger, but not so much that you become jaded…
Reasons why your 30s are the best
Farewell, low-rent suppers. Your 30s is the period when you finally hit your stride financially. We’re not saying you’ll have all the disposable income — student loans will still linger; rent will still eat up three-quarters of your salary — but your 30s tends to be the decade where you find a bit more balance and start to feel less anxious around money.
Money, or lack of it, is no longer at the forefront of every decision you make. Instead, you can start to relish the finer things in life, with an income that doesn’t automatically hit the red two seconds after payday. Travel becomes more frequent, especially for solo travelers, as an appetite for sharing a dorm with 20 other backpackers simultaneously wanes.
You might stop caring so much
Any self-consciousness that’s possibly lingered at your shoulder tends to sneak out the back door during this decade. In a revelation that can blow your mind, you suddenly realize that the things that you’d agonized over once upon a time… well, they really matter so much anymore.
Not invited to a friend’s wedding? Shrug and move on. Can’t recall the details of a raucous night out? Hey, we’ve all been there. Life’s too short for beer fear, anyway. All that wondering and worrying about what people think – and who said what when – loses its edge in your 30s.
You come to understand that people’s reactions and responses are rarely to do with you and almost always down to whatever is going on in their own lives.
Personal boundaries become healthier
That radar that sends off sonar bleeps whenever someone tests your boundaries? It can really crank up a gear in your 30s. Less often will you stand by in silence gritting your teeth at another poor excuse, or an out-and-out lie. Instead, armed with the confidence of life experience, you develop a kickback voice.
The voice that says “no thanks, I’m busy this weekend”, when your colleague tries to offload a last-minute project. The voice that says “walk away” when a relationship doesn’t feel nourishing.
You often don’t feel the need to complain or explain. You simply demonstrate your boundaries — calmly and firmly — and move on. It’s a wonderfully liberating tool.
People-pleasing is less of an issue
A byproduct of not caring so much and developing boundaries means not spending as much time trying to make people happy. You can be a bit abrupt on the phone and not feel bad about it. You no longer feel the need for everyone you meet to like you.
You pick and choose what birthdays and drinks you go to, to preserve your energy and time for yourself. You can have that awkward work chat and not descend into a quagmire of doom afterwards. You stop thinking so much about what others may think (friends, neighbors, colleagues and relatives) and start concentrating on how you see yourself.
If this sounds selfish, it’s quite the opposite: freeing up your time and energy means you can spend it with those you truly love and with more presence. People and events that drain you, meanwhile, are politely shown the door.
You become less self-involved
As you start making room for yourself in your 30s, a narcissistic vein also wavers. The time spent in a knot of self-preoccupation (who am I, why am I feeling like this, what do people think of me) can loosen and you start developing a wider, more inclusive perspective. The headspace you’ve reclaimed from not looking inwards all the time means you can start noticing the people and causes that you’d like to support and give time to.
After years of tacking intimidating people in tense work meetings, you can throw your support full-pelt at the new kid on the block. You ditch the excuses and actually spend time with your great-aunt. You babysit your friend’s kids, all three of them. You help your elderly neighbor set up Facebook.
You pick up the slate for people you care about. You comfort, coax, encourage, buoy up: because you can and it feels good.
A sense of resilience develops
In your 20s, every turn of the road holds a new challenge. Life is a rollercoaster of emotion; both thrilling and terrifying. By the time you’ve hit your 30s, you’ve gone through this process of crossing new experiences and challenges enough times to have a deep, resounding faith in yourself.
Even new experiences are a variation on a theme. The searing turmoil of grief. The break-up you think you’ll never recover from. Redundancy. Rejection. The end of a television show. However bad these events feel at the time, deep down you know you can handle it. And you also become more adept at brushing off the smaller set-backs. Rather than questioning your self-worth, you merely accept that these things happen and move on.
You do you
Perhaps the very best thing about hitting your 30s is the ability to know yourself inside out. The third decade of life brings a degree of self-awareness and understanding that is difficult to capture in previous years. Armed with a deeper knowledge of who you are and what you like, you start interrogating the choices you never even thought to question before.
That stultifying job you’ve been stuck in since the end of college because it pays well and seemed like the thing to do? You don’t have to do it anymore. Thought you were an accountant when really you love illustration? Go for it — no one’s stopping you. All this sounds obvious, but your 30s are a time when you finally realize who you are and simultaneously pluck up the courage to act on it.
Your 30s are where you start going on those adventures you always wanted to go on. Look to the future and see your horizons open up — a golden future awaits.
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