Ah thirty. The big three oh. Remember when you were 21 – the last ‘big’ birthday and it felt as if the whole world was stretched out in front of you? You were finishing off university, stepping out onto the precipice of big-city living, getting your first job, finally being able to afford to eat something other than Tesco Value pasta.
Well, if turning 21 was the bastion of excitement, turning 30 for many people – myself included – is a terrifying time. I am nearly six months into my thirties now, a year that started with me claiming that I had finally found peace with myself. I was, I declared on the 7th of January (the day after my birthday), irrevocably cured of all the worries I had in my twenties. Overnight, I decided that I was no longer body conscious, or worried about work, and those people I spent years agonising over whether they liked me? They didn’t matter now.
This enthusiasm lasted approximately 2.5 weeks before I realised that actually, being 30 is not that different to being 29, which wasn’t that different to being 28. Because, as a millennial, while I might have been able to grow out of some of my bad habits, I haven’t really been able to grow up. Let’s see if you feel the same…
Expectation:You’d own your own house
Reality:Just sending another email to my estate agents, guys
Yes, yes, we know, if we could just stop eating avocados and drinking coffee, then in 20 years, we would have saved up enough for a studio flat in Gravesend. But unfortunately, avocado and coffee are very nice. And really, when your boiler isn’t broken and that damp in the bathroom is sorted and your landlord finally gets someone to take a look at the fridge door, which inexplicably swings open during the night, then renting isn’t all that bad… is it?
Expectation:At the very least I will live alone
Reality:“Hi guys, can someone pick up some loo roll later, I’ve bought it the last FOUR times”
“It’s not that I don’t like my housemates,” you say, ‘”I’d just like them more if I didn’t have to live with them.” Living with people when you’re younger is an adventure, it’s accidentally staying up all night, it’s house parties where one of you has sex in a bed that isn’t yours, it’s always having someone to steal butter from. But something happens when you hit thirty where you start to fantasize about what it would be like to live alone. How nice it would be to arrange the cushions in the living room exactly how you want and how wonderful to walk around naked in a room scented by the Diptyque candles you’re no longer afraid to bring out in case someone else lights them while you’re out. But you can’t, because you’re too poor.
Expectation:You’d be married
Reality:Tinder is really rubbish now, isn’t it?
You’re caught between really hating dating apps and really hating the thought of dying alone. So you and your other single friends vow religiously that you will go out and you will speak to people in real life. IN REAL LIFE. Then you go to your local and have the three drinks it takes you to work up the courage to speak to that guy at the bar that looks a bit like Tom Hardy and just as you approach him, your mate Steph taps you on the shoulder and says you need to get her in an Uber because she’s feeling sick, so you leave and face another Sunday scrolling endlessly through photos of men named Dan who borrowed their friend’s puppy to try and attract women.
Expectation:You will have your dream job
Reality:Can you have a side hustle if you don’t already have a hustle, hustle?
I love the Spice Girls but I blame them entirely for making me believe I could be whoever I wanted to be. The truth is a little trickier, and in today’s economic climate you can end up feeling like you’re the only one shouting into the abyss of job applications and working out whether or not it’s worth filling out a LinkedIn profile. But fear not, thirty is still really young to have found your perfect career or, if you have found your perfect career, your perfect role within it.
As Baz Luhrmann told us in Wear Sunscreen (tune), “Some of the most interesting forty year olds still don’t…” know what they want to do with their lives – and that’s OK.