Every now and again I’ll just open WordPress and start typing with no inclination of where I’m going with it, other than a brief overview of the topic in question. Funnily enough, I always find these impromptu, spur of the moment word vomits tend to do really well in terms of views and engagement. I guess it’s because we’re all looking for something to relate to, right?

(These photos are only used to brighten up this post – they in no way reflect how I actually feel about turning 30)

Well this is going to be one of those posts. So buckle up because I have NO idea were we’re going with this.

But I do want to write *something* because I have a lot of thoughts and feelings about turning 30 this year. I turn 30 on the 4th September, so I currently have 5 days left of my 20’s which, in itself, is utterly terrifying.

It’s so funny to think back to when you were a teenager and 30 seemed SO grown up. Like, proper grown up. Yet as we’ve hurtled through our 20’s, we’ve realized that things don’t really change and we hit 30 still feeling like a lost 16 year old.

At least I do anyway.

I suffer a lot with comparison. It’s something I work tirelessly on, seeking the help of life coaching and other tools to help me help myself with comparing my life to other people’s. And I think 30 is one of the PRIME ages for that to occur.

30 is possibly the most dangerous age for those of us that compare.

There’s so much pressure when it comes to the big 3-0. If you’ve not bought your first house, got married and had a baby all the whilst having achieved your dream career and travelled the world, then you’ve somehow failed the test of the 20’s.

By 29, there’s an influx of subliminal messaging around all of the above which is no surprise that so many people feel weird and under pressure and in a state of anxiety around turning 30.

First and foremost, I don’t think 30 is “old”. I remember on Instagram once, saying I dreaded turning 30 and someone replied saying they were offended which was utterly ridiculous because we all have our own challenges around age and achievement.

Anyway, I’m going to break the remainder of this post down into sections otherwise I’ll never get my thoughts straight:

I’m bitter about the time my anxiety disorder took from me

This is something that’s very personal to me but a huge factor as to why I’m having so many confusing thoughts and feelings about turning 30. Ultimately, I think it’s because my 20’s weren’t really a “thing”, at least for the first 6 years or so.

My anxiety disorder changed and fundamentally ruined my life. I have no qualms about saying that. For a number of years, I was confined – physically and mentally – to a box where anxiety was coming at me from every direction.

I wasn’t doing the things you should do in your 20’s. No, not getting married or having babies. But going out with friends. Having fun. Travelling. Getting drunk. Listening to live music. Going for brunch. Having cocktails. Going on holiday.

I had no friends to do this with and even if I did, I couldn’t. Because my anxiety wouldn’t let me leave my bedroom.

But ultimately, my 20’s were a bit crap – so why am I dreading leaving them so much?

So that brings me on to my next conflicting point and that’s the fact that clearly, my 20’s were for the most part, a bit crap. So why am I so reluctant to accept leaving them behind?

This is a thought process I’ve grappled with on and off over the last year. The first time I came to this conclusion I thought, “ah! all my problems are solved!” but the feeling didn’t last long.

I think it’s okay to admit that my 20’s weren’t what I wanted them to be, yet I don’t want to leave behind the safety net of your 20’s, being a time where it’s okay to still make mistakes.

Oh the comparison game

Heading into my 30’s without my own home, unmarried, without a child and in a career I’m increasingly coming to dislike really f***s me up mentally. That might sound dramatic but that’s how I feel.

This is something that I just have to learn to live with an accept. I can’t have a kid and get married in 5 days, so I just have to try and accept the fact that those things didn’t happen for me in my 20’s and learn to be okay with that.

I know someone will tell me that “our timelines are all different!” and yes, they are. I’m under no illusion that they’re not. But the difference is, I WANTED those things. And I didn’t get them.

Feeing directionless

This is another thing that’s hugely personal to me right now and I’m surprised at myself for even sharing it but that’s feeling a sense of directionless in my life and yet another thing I’m working on tirelessly to try and navigate around at the moment.

Getting older does nothing to help those feelings of directionless in life. Especially as your 20’s are notoriously known as that decade that you should figure out who you are, what you want and how you want to live.

Not knowing what I want

Genuinely, I’m almost 30 years old and I still have no idea what I want in life or from life (not that life owes me anything). I feel scattered and unable to pin down anything tangible that I can grab from life right now.

I envy all those people who know, early on, that they want to be a mother. Or the exact career they want. Or the fact they want to travel. Like it’s something that allows them to breathe more easily.

I’ve never once in my life felt like that and as I approach 30, I become more and more aware of how much I’ve just floated through things without ever grasping any real meaning from any of them.

I guess I’m hoping I’ll wake up on the 4th and something will feel different, although I know it won’t.

I’ll be 30 but I’ll still feel like that lost 16 year old, grappling with all of the above and more. I’m not excited about turning 30. And I don’t need people to tell me “it’s just a number!” I know that.

I think it’s absolutely okay for people to struggle around turning a certain age and all those people that say it’s no big deal are ultimately undermining that other person’s feelings and struggles.

For some, turning 30 IS a big deal. It is for me.

I am simultaneously dreading and looking forward to entering a new decade of my life.

I have hopes, which I’m not going to get to high. And no concrete plans that I’ll be disappointed over if they don’t happen.

Overall, I’m feeling weird about turning 30. And that’s okay.

56 Comments

  1. Hi Jenny,

    I hope that you enjoyed your birthday.

    As somebody that is a little (OK, a lot) beyond 30 I can tell you:

    * Quite often I still feel much the same as I did when I was 16 – mentally anyway, 16-year-old me didn’t suffer with a bad back!

    * With very few exceptions, I don’t care what other people may think of me! As long as I’m not breaking the law and I’m following my own moral compass, why should I care whether anybody else disagrees? If I’d rather buy a Skoda than a Ferrari (I wouldn’t!) that’s my choice. If I’d rather have a meal with Sandi Toksvig than anybody from TOWIE (I would!) that’s also my choice. In neither case would I feel the need to justify myself.

    * And I don’t compare myself to other people – I know some will say that they find it motivational to aspire to have what others have. That’s fine, but aspire to that because you want it, not because they have it – there is a difference. If you never stop making comparisons when is it ever enough? I know somebody that earns a packet, lovely wife and child, big house, constant stream of nice new cars but … always looking at what his bosses have and feeling envious!

    All of which is a long way of me saying please don’t feel that you ever have to grow up or need to reach milestones set by others. Do what makes you happy.

    And, finally, I love your phrase “spur of the moment word vomits”. Priceless 🙂

    1. Glad you enjoyed my spur of the moment word vomit, haha! Thanks for your comment and words of wisdom. Although I’m glad you said you wouldn’t rather a Skoda than a Ferrari, I’d definitely have to judge you for that. I deeply struggle with the comparison thing but it goes very deep and is very personal and something that I’ve come to accept isn’t going to change overnight but that’s okay.

  2. Congratulations on turning 30.

    I hated my early 30s for many of the same reasons, I felt directionless, the wheels fell off the plan, I made some shitty choices, felt pressure to have kids and ultimately felt lost.

    Most women especially will relate to these feelings at different ages but it does get better.

  3. I’m 29 now, but I’m there with you on not knowing what I want to do with my life. I’ve been trying to figure out what career I want to do and I’m even thinking about moving back to the US.
    I do hope you had a nice birthday though.

  4. Hi Jenny- first of all, Happy Birthday! This was such a beautifully honest, relatable post. When I read your sentence “Heading into my 30’s without my own home, unmarried, without a child and in a career I’m increasingly coming to dislike…” I felt like I could have written this same post when I was turning 30 haha. Being in my mid-thirties now I still struggle with comparison and it is something I am always working on. I hope that you find many reasons to celebrate this new decade and I look forward to following your journey. 🙂

  5. Ugh I’m sorry your impending 30th birthday is giving you such mixed feelings. I’m on the other side of it, I’m 32 and I’m here to tell you it’s not too bad on this side! I am also not married, no house, no kids. I’m mostly fine with that although I’d prefer to own vs rent, maybe by the time I’m 40. I have friends that have all that and they are happy but they also comment on my freedom – I think we all just get a bit of that the grass looks greener on the other side. I didn’t do too much traveling in my 20s but I did party and honestly, it was overrated and very empty. Partying in your 30s is much more fun and by that I mean chill dinner parties with wine and my closest girlfriends.

  6. I’m sorry you feel so conflicted about turning thirty. There’s so much of this I nodded along with. I’m quite happy and content with where I am at the moment, but I still feel kind of directionless. For such a long time I thought I knew what I wanted career wise and once I’d earned the qualification and did the work, it just kind of didn’t work out. I’m not particularly sad about it, just it feels weird going from being so focussed on becoming an interior designer, to now where I don’t really know what I’ll be working on one month to the next. I’m enjoying what I’m doing, but is it forever? Probably not. I’m just going with it. For what it’s worth I feel so much happier being myself in my thirties than I ever did in my twenties & teens. I hope you’re able to celebrate whichever way you want. Sending love! X

    1. Ah sorry to hear that career path didn’t work out for you. I’ve had that happen as well as it’s weird isn’t it. But I’m so glad you’re so happy and content with where you are right now!

  7. I think a lot of people will benefit from reading your post and appreciate your complete honesty. I’m 23 and feel like I can relate to a lot of what you’ve written already. Thank you for being so open and honest with us lovely! Xo

    Elle – ellegracedeveson.com

  8. I really appreciate your honesty in this post Jenny, I turn 30 next year and it does fill me with dread. Like you, I will ultimately play the comparison game and compare my life to other 30 year olds around my 30th birthday next May, but I hope it doesn’t get me down too much! I really hope you celebrate your 30th in style Jenny! x

    Lucy | http://www.lucymary.co.uk

  9. I was so anxious and freaked out about turning 30! I definitely feel better about it now and it is definitely a positive as a new chapter of your life. Thank you for sharing how you feel as it is so relatable. Thank you Jenny x

  10. This is such a great post and I can totally relate as I will be turning 30 in a few months too! Thanks so much for sharing

  11. I think this will be one of those really good engagements posts because it’s so relatable topic. I think we keep going through those emotions every decade, I know I am. It helps a little to concentrate on what have you done or accomplished, not on what society says you should have. To celebrate your own milestones for example learning to manage and live with anxiety is a big deal.
    I was so afraid ending my 30s in seemingly same place as I started so I went back to school 🙂 So if nothing else at least I can say I got a degree 🙂

  12. Hi there, I totally get you. I turned 30 several years ago and it kind of scared me – enough to do some self-assessment and start my journey of really finding some answers to questions that had been bugging me. I started by trying things I had not done before, some stuck, some did not… these years have changed me and I feel more real. However, if it is any comfort: I still don’t have all the answers. Who does???

    1. Nobody has all the answers for sure!

      Turning 30 is definitely prompting me to think about what I want and to take more time for the stuff I actually want to do. I’ve already booked myself a spa break in 2 weeks, to kick it off haha!

  13. I just turned 20, so maybe my thoughts are not that far off from yours, in terms of leaving my teen decade behind and moving on to something greater. This felt like a good read for me right now, and I love that writing it helped you too. 🙂

  14. Our birthdays are coming up soon too, so this time of year is always one for reflection. Even though you have mixed emotions, we hope you still find a time to celebrate your birthday. We put so much pressure on ourselves in our 20s to have life figured out and that just isn’t true for most of us.

  15. 30 is definitely a hard age in terms of comparison – I think when you’re younger, it’s easy to look at someone else’s success and think “I have plenty of time, I’m only 25” but as you get older, it seems there’s more pressure. I will say though, that one great thing about being in your 30’s is you start to become more sure of who you are.

  16. There is that saying about “Those who wander are not lost.”(Tolkien) It is okay to keep an open mind and do your own thing. It is your life. It is your journey. You will find gifts along the way. You are your own beautiful soul, full of talents and a unique purpose. You do not need to take a thousand steps at once and in no way, shape, or form, do you have to have your whole life figured out. Take the next best step that feels right for you each day, not the step someone else might be taking. Happy Birthday!!! Thirty is still so very young, and your thirties might prove to be the very best decade of your life yet. Dream big! 🙂

    1. I am familiar with that quote! That’s very true. The thing I’m struggling with is the fact that I didn’t get anything I wanted in my 20’s. Just something I have to learn to live with. Thank you!

  17. Turning 30 was a big age for me. I bought my first house, got engaged. Comparison is a dangerous thing, but that can apply to any age. As long as you are trying to live your best life, it’s all you can do!

  18. I was terrified at turning 30 and excited at being 40. Forties are certainly better, you really have got to know yourself by then 😉
    There will be things to look forward to, I’m sure, for you. Anxiety or no anxiety.
    All the best xo

  19. I have another 2yrs ahead of me.. but I do relate so much to most of what you said: with the difference that I actually don’t wanna get married or have kids. I’m also quite at peace with staying with my parents still, as the market is bonkers and we both need something from the other party.. so long story short, they still need my help and so do I. I also don’t make enough to pay for everything 😅 I’d need atleast help from a significant other (which don’t exist yet), and living with someone i don’t know creates anxieties of « will they hurt my animals without me knowing? »; atleast I know my mother love & cherish them as much as I do.
    Not really a « career » per say, but I do love my job, that pays quite above our minimum wage, so atleast there’s that!

    I got diagnosed at 19, so my mental health definately stole 5-6yrs from me too.. all the try & error for meds and all, plus the actual « going up the hill » with a new job that I loved- heck that took a long time, feels like i’m just properly happy now at almost 28!
    That also rickocheted into not being able to make friends, or even have any, and i’m quite scared of doing some things alone like going out and stuff- for my safety. So that’s kinda dull on that partying side of your 20s..

  20. Congrats on turning 30.

    Where you’ve been isn’t where your going and if you can make the most of your 30s, don’t stress about lost time.

    And my favourite quote ever feels apt – ‘Comparison is the thief of joy….’

    I hope you really enjoy your thirties

  21. 4th Sept – same birthday as my mum ☺️ I know what you mean though. I remember having those same feelings when I was about to turn 30. Even though I had a baby; at the time we didn’t have our own home and my career got sidelined. I’ll be turning 40 in just over 3 years and I’ve given so much of my life to my kids, I’ve sort of lost myself in the process and don’t have a career anymore 🙄 I think we all have different worries when we reach these milestones. Society and the media play a huge part in putting these pressures out there- especially towards women! Great post and so relatable. Jade MumLifeandMe

    1. Awh yay for your Mum too!

      Oh for sure we definitely all have different worries depending on where we are, what we have and our ages. You can’t really compare your struggles to anyone elses!

  22. Congratulations on turning 30!

    I get what you mean, I turned 27 this year and I feel like I’m 22 in my head. The pandemic made us miss out on 2 years of our lives. I know personally that I can’t communicate with people the same way after it. I just get so exhausted.

    As a brown girl, I also didn’t really have those fun teen years that everyone talks about. I was at home, miserable and now that things aren’t the same and as I finally move out, I think about how at 27 I’ll basically now learn how to adult, 9 year after so many other people have started.

    Yeah, age is just a number and all that jazz, but it’s a powerful number too. It’s okay to feel odd about turning 30! Did we ever imagine life coming this far?

    1. I totally agree and thank you for saying that about age being a powerful number. So many people dismiss it, which is fine, for them. But it’s certainly not as easy for others.

      The pandemic really did rob us of so much time, I can imagine a lot of people are very bitter about that as well.

  23. I felt exactly the same when I turned 30 last year. I’ve just had my 31st birthday and honestly, my 30s so far have been a complete game changer. Looking back I suppose you could say that in my 20s I achieved a few things that people think you should achieve, I graduated from uni, I bought a house, I had a couple of dream holidays and I got engaged but the reality was my twenties were shit. The comparison game was very strong, my attitude to myself was appalling and my confidence was at rock bottom. Everyone else seemed to be doing better than me and when, due to jobs, the pandemic, etc we hit a bit of a rocky patch financially, that only added fuel to the fire of feeling like nothing ever went my way. Things didn’t suddenly change over night as soon as I hit 30 but in the months that followed I started working more on just being kinder to myself and on caring less about things that didn’t matter or that I couldn’t change. This year I started a fitness journey and my whole mindset around health, fitness, the way I view myself has totally changed. I’ve got a new confidence I never had in my 20s because I’ve been working hard to ditch all the self doubt and insecurities I carried around in my 20s. I dreaded turning 30 but it’s been the best part of my life so far and I can’t wait to grow even more and really harness that power of not giving a shit!

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