I just turned 30. I had hoped to write an inspiring post about how freeing it felt... But, I've decided to hit you with the truth.
Before I turned the big 3-0, I was very nonchalant about the whole thing. I am a confident, independent woman and age aint' nothing but a number. But then, the clock transitioned from 11:59pm to 12:00am, signaling the end of my twenties and something strange happened. I went full-on-Carrie Mathison-from-Homeland-cray.
My birthday breakdown was something I never saw coming, and it is my job as your twenty-something Sherpa to prepare you for it. Because, as I have since found out, this is a pretty natural phenomenon for women. I've asked many of my 30-something female friends and almost all of them reported a similar story. So why does nobody talk about it? Is the first rule of crying on your 30th birthday that we don't talk about crying on your 30th birthday? I've tried to make sense of it all and have a few theories:
1. Society has subconsciously labeled this birthday as "doomsday"
I could write a 20-page thesis paper in MLA format on this very topic, but in short, we've been spoon-fed bullshit our whole lives about beauty standards and how that translates to our value as women. From photoshopped models, magazine headlines, and a billion dollar anti-aging industry; we've been unconsciously taught that youth= beauty. Now, I have never subscribed to this ideology, and have always prided myself on being confident. That is why I was completely surprised by all the "you're past your prime" thoughts that flooded my brain when the clock struck midnight. The thing is, even when we ignore these messages, they are subconsciously burrowed in there somewhere and your 30th bday makes a perfect time for your brain to unload.
2. We're Not Where We Thought We Would Be
Thirty is one of those benchmark ages we have in our lives. "By the time I'm 30, I'll _Insert random set of ridiculous accomplishments here. For me, I was convinced by the time I hit 30 I would be married, rich, and on the New York Times Best Sellers list. In reality, I just bought store-brand mac & cheese because it was $49 cents cheaper then the name brand stuff. When we're faced with the juxtaposition of where we thought we would be and where we actually are..well, it's easy to start beating ourselves up.
3. We Grieve our Twenties
Turning 30 made me painfully aware of how NOT ready I was to let go of my twenties. I loved this decade of life. Twenty-somethings are fun and carefree. You're allowed to make mistakes. You're allowed to quit your job and post memes on the internet for a living (cough) and it's seen as cute and quirky. Somehow, those mistakes and risks are looked at differently in your thirties. Shouldn't you have your shit together by now? Shouldn't you be thinking about settling down and making babies? You do know that 90% of your eggs are gone by 30 right? God, I'm not ready for this. Let me stay in my blissful 20's bubble FOREVER!!
Ok, I'm sorry that got super dark for a second. But after my birthday was over, the cake was eaten, and the tears dried, I realized a few things. No, we can't stay in our twenties forever. (I looked into it) But you know what? THATS A FUCKING GOOD THING. Do you remember what it was like in your early 20's? Starting at the absolute bottom at work, being unsure of yourself, having NO money, dating fuck boys left and right (is this a me thing or are you guys still with me?) What I'm trying to say is we've come a long way. And your gorgeous self enters this next decade wiser, stronger, and better then you were before (I'm not sure where this turned into a Britney song but just go with it)
You see, 30 is not a deadline. Actually, it is just one more step on the journey of this life. For all the good things we've experienced so far, there are still SO many more good things to come. So shine up that sparkly birthday tiara and celebrate this next decade of life. I promise, there's a lot of good waiting for you on the other side.