April 10th 2018
IN 5 days time I will be 30 and between now and this time last year I’ve attempted writing a blog about turning 30 many times.
April 15th 2018
Happy Birthday to me. Fuck this.
June 24, 2018
This has been the blog post I have dreaded writing for so long and yet the one I’ve had the most time to prepare for, 30 years preparation in fact. Maybe it’s because committing my thought to a blog makes me accept the fact, like most people, I will turn 30 years old and that life does indeed keep on going. People leave the party, nurse the hangover, lament how much money they spent at the event and then on to the next; no shits given, a few congratulations and zero commiserations. Except, I give a shit and I wanted everyone around me to give a shit, like a proper emotional one too, in order to distract me from the awful impending sense of doom, failure, panic and downright annoyance I felt about entering my third decade.
I read back that sentence and laugh at myself. Today marks my 10th week into my 30th year and I can’t believe how much has my attitude changed since that day. In the 365-day run up to turning 30 not a day went past and I wasn’t reminded about this false state of looming tragedy. I had the fear BIG TIME and couldn’t decide which was the lesser of two evils; it happening and not making a big deal about it because age is just a number and maybe, just maybe, it will go unnoticed and SUCCESS I’M TWENTY FUCKING 9 FOREVER. OR make the biggest fucking fuss you can imagine, wear the most expensive dress, bankrupt myself on champagne and big shiny 3 & 0 shaped gold balloons and get so wasted that for at least 6 hours I believe this is the best fucking day of my life consequently masking the fear that simmers beneath.
So why was I so fearful and what makes it slightly more okay now? My following thoughts on the matter are written below and would most likely be best expressed to my therapist however I’m sure I am not alone in thinking the following, so here it goes.
BUT IM NOT EVEN OLD…DISBELIEF
This is probably the most rational yet confusing of all the emotions about turning 30 and I must have uttered the sentence; “but I literally feel the same as I did when I was 21…” to myself a million times. I even look the same (aside from a few fine lines around the eyes. I don’t feel any different to the 21 year old girl experimenting with drugs, or the homeless 23 year old sleeping on her friends sofa indefinitely, or the 24 year old getting fired from her job. Not that any of this is likely to repeat itself but I still feel very much the same girl. Can I even call myself a girl or am I just “ WOMAN” now, Christ.
Then thoughts follow like; does my mum feel young still? Did my Nan on her deathbed still feel the flutter of her flighty youth as she drew her last breath? YES and yes. I mean I didn’t ask my Nan as she passed over, she was busy, but she was a spritely woman and like my mum always had the “joie de vivre” or joy of life in her until the end. Being able to maintain a youthful and inquisitive mind is the medicine that keeps us young even as our bodies’ age. We grow old when we stop playing.
I don’t plan on stopping having fun or taking myself seriously anytime soon, I hope to be wrestling my partner at 65, hip replacements depending.
I HAVEN’T ACHIEVED ENOUGH…FAILURE
This one is an evil trick of the mind and not exclusive to turning 30, though it did play on my mind even more this year. I think at one stage (maybe more my female readers?) we all looked ahead at adulthood with rose tinted spectacles declaring we would have our dream job secured by 25, marriage at 28 and first babies at 30. SHIT man, I just about secured the job situuuu and that only happening last year. LOLLLZZZ. And dat man he’s, erm, coming * flicks feverishly through Hinge *. As for kids I still can’t hold a baby in my arms without the fear of accidentally holding it to death. Life doesn’t go as planned; which is a damn hard pill to swallow for a part time control freak, full time organizer like myself.
But then wait wait wait, I step back and look at my work achievement, 1 of the 3 things that 8 year old Emily had hoped for by 30; I don’t have just a job I love; I’ve created a business and brand from who I am. It’s a success too! People want to follow me and brands want to pay me to create stuff for them. I might not have the other two yet but without those crazy, mad, fucked up 3 decades under my belt I probably wouldn’t have the material to tell the stories I do. Accepting that things happen when they are supposed to can be liberating but totally and understandably not easy. But life isn’t easy; failure, sadness, grievance and depression can happen to anyone at anytime. Life is a battle and we need to scoop up all those victories – big and small- and hold them firmly in our hands, savour them often. It helped me a lot to remind myself of everything I have done so far and when you tot it up it’s actually a lot! Write yourself a victory list, you’ll see.
BUT I’M DECAYING…VANITY
This one is largely manifested in women’s brains by women’s media outlets, advertising and admittedly social media persons (BIG SOZ. LOVE YOU ALL. YOU ARE ALL BEAUTIFUL HUMANS). But if you thought worrying about your self-image was bad through your 20’s wait until you get to your 30’s. Now there are legitimate vanity issues to address. Many of us feel the need to “take care” of ourselves with a little more commitment than before. A few sentiments you may have had if you too are nearing 30; Botox? Commitment to tri-weekly spinning classes. Folic acids and women’s supplements? Career or kids? CHOOSE NOW! The race to wed is fucking onnnnnnn girlssss and if you didn’t already hear your biological clock ticking allow every piece of television media to turn up the volume for you.
Did this happen to me? Hell yes it did. Strangely it happened the other side of 30 though. The 29-year-old me fast tracking her way to her next birthday had the above soundtrack on loop. As soon 30 hit and I got over the 3 day hangover I took a good hard look at myself. There are always things our mothers said that stay with us and one for me was when I asked my mum at what age she thought she was her most beautiful self. Fully expecting her to say the precocious age of 19 or 20 she surprised me and said that on her 30th birthday she looked at herself in the mirror and thought she had never felt more beautiful than that moment. I can see it; her body still young and strong but has birthed 3 children by then, her hair long, full and curly. Eyes; bright and green full with security, achievement and excitement, but something more, like a knowledge and wisdom you can only get from becoming a woman and knowing exactly what you want and who you are.
When my time came I was terrified at what I might see, but like my mum 25 years earlier I too saw something beautiful and strong. Maybe not certainty or confidence on that particular day but there was experience and an unflappable passion to have / get everything I wanted to from my life. I’ve been careful to keep that desire burning since that moment, like a mental fire feeding my growth and confidence to go and get what I want.
FINDING THE ONE…LONELINESS
Up until earlier this year I was in a toxic relationship. I ended it and although it was incredibly hard at the time I’m well and truly out the other side now and look back mopping sweat from my brow and laughing in a psychotic way one might do after they narrowly escape death by road traffic accident. BUT being in a whatithoughtwasa “solid” relationship in my final months as a 29-year-old definitely made me felt 100000% more secure at turning 30.
I see now that I wrongly clung to the idea that having this box ticked would make everything easier. Turning 30 was so daunting that part of me wanted to put the break up off until I had celebrated and have him there like a rotten crunch ready to snap under my weight of my own fears. I dashed that illusion because the relationship had left me on the edge of a breakdown. I went to my party alone, still heart broken (but looking cute AF). Boy am I glad I did it that way, at least I don’t have to Photoshop him out of all the photos. LOL.
I’M PAST IT……IRRELEVANCE
This fear is a career based fear, fuelled also by the fact people continually tell me how young I look and how shocked they are when I find out I am 30. It’s like a dirty little secret that I’m occasionally forced to come clean about. When your work is public and your face and level of relevance and popularity pays the bills becoming irrelevant or “past it” can be the most terrifying thing. I knew that I had courted many a brand partnership with my clients never having asked my age and me feeling like I’d “gotten away with it”. I have had to mindfully adjust my attitude on this one. Mostly because it’s damaging to my self worth but also because it’s not true. I feel more valuable now as a 30 year old than I ever did at 26 or 27. I have way more authority when I speak about things and the audience I am speaking to, who is growing up with me, continues to strengthen and grow in success herself. To put it bluntly the 25-35 female is a lucrative demographic to be speaking to.
So there it is; 4 fears that plagued my brain through my 29th year. Now I’m over the other side I can honestly say it really isn’t a big fucking deal. Nobody gives a shit, I’m still getting jobs, I’m in good shape and feel good because I take care of myself, I am still working hard because good things don’t come to those that wait around for them. I’m dating and loving it because I’ve never been surer of what I want/do not want or will tolerate. I have freedom and experience that gives me choice and emotional and financial freedom to enjoy my life. 30 is fucking empowering. All those that said it before us weren’t wrong.
I know that everyone still on the other side won’t believe me until you take this rite of passage yourself. But that’s fine, you’re more than entitled to have all the fears. Feel them! They make us human 🙂 But remember when you do finally turn 30 you do realise that age is just a number and you are only a sum of your life experiences.
So here are 30 middle fingers up to the fucker that told me to freeze my eggs in a YouTube comment last month. I’m going to have as many kids as I want to, when I choose and with someone I love and if it doesn’t happen then I got options because I’m blessed to be alive and live in a world where there are options. Hold my drink and stand back betches because this 30-year-old woman is just getting started.
Photography by Rosie Butcher.