Throughout my twenties, my birthdays were always well celebrated, but they were also a source of fear about getting closer to 30. I started having full blown panic attacks about each birthday after the age of 24. However, I recently turned 32 and my birthday came with absolutely no stress, worry, or anxiety about turning 32.
If I was so worried about inching closer to 30 back then, shouldn’t I be stressed about getting even older than 30 now?
But I’m not. Not even a little bit.
So why aren’t I stressed about birthdays anymore?
Society puts massive pressure on us to have every aspect of our lives sorted by the age of 30. It’s this magic age after which our lives and worth supposedly go downhill.
Perhaps back in the days when the average life expectancy was 37, then you’d expect to have achieved most of your life’s work by 30. These days? We’re just getting started at 30!
The societal expectation to have it all figured out meant that as 30 loomed closer, I felt huge amounts of pressure. I didn’t have it all figured out (who does?!) so I felt like I was failing in some way. Each time I had a birthday – 26, 27, 28 – I wanted to slam the brakes to give myself a bit more time to
- Meet the love of my life, date for 3 years, be engaged for 2 years, then have the perfect wedding
- Climb to the top of the career ladder
- Have 3 children with exactly 2 years between each
- Buy a holiday home
- Join a country club
All that whilst also finding out who I really am, healing all my mental health problems, and somehow having fun along the way.
Sound realistic to you? I don’t think so.
If you’ve also fallen for society’s myth that you’re running out of time, then this article is for you. (Opens in new tab).
Anxiety-inducing birthdays came one by one until the inevitable “big birthday” arrived. I turned 30 back in 2021 which was was an emotionally rocky time for me. I certainly didn’t have all/any of the things on that list ticked off but there was a semblance of relief that it had finally happened. That it was no longer looming. I had turned 30 and I was OK.
If anything it felt like life was on an uphill trajectory, not the downhill slope I was warned about.
‘Hmm,’ I thought, ‘maybe there is life and joy and time beyond 30 after all’.
Each birthday since then has been light and free from stress. The pressure is off. There is no longer an arbitrary societal deadline that dictates what I should achieve and by when.
I can continue to figure “it” out one experience/mistake/day at a time, at my own pace. That is very freeing.
- READ MORE: 12 Things to do Instead of Settling
- READ MORE: Changing Friendships in Your 30s
- READ MORE: The #1 Sign That You’re Settling in Your Relationship
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