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The truth about turning 30

March 29, 2022 Karianne 4 min read No Comments

In the days leading up to my 30th birthday, I was a wreck.

All I wanted to do was lie in bed, watch Harry Potter, and pretend to be a burrito blanket. You know, celebrate my 30th birthday the same way I celebrated turning 29.

As far as birthdays go, 28 and 29 were rough—and not just because covid shut everything down and amplified the loneliness. All of my life I had this vision: a sun-lit kitchen, back door open to allow a warm, summer breeze, and me, rushing around helping my family get ready for the day. A pinterest-perfect life.

30 was supposed to be when I had everything figured out, and everything I wished for. My suburban-mom side would blossom and I’d achieve ultimate bliss making cute bento lunches and getting up early for my pilates class.

By the time I was 30 I would have:

  • a doting husband
  • my first child
  • an elegant home
  • a thriving work-from-home career

In my early twenties, I slowly pushed that plan to the side and told myself I had lots of time. I didn’t need to worry. At 26 I was ready to put that plan in motion, but over the following years, I could not get anything around me to cooperate.

I learned my boyfriend of 8-years had lied, and actually had no intention of marrying me but didn’t want to lose me, bringing me a fresh perspective to the phrase “have your cake and eat it too.”

Poof went the doting husband!

No husband meant no child because I didn’t want to raise a child on my own if I could help it.

Pop went my vision of having a young family.

My income could not support home-ownership and I was not comfortable living by myself.

Slam went all the house doors.

After 2-years of covid-season graduates, I was no longer the hip-new class of animators, and there were over 300 applicants for every remote graphic design job.

Splat went my career.

And the cherry on top, 30 meant dropping the young in “young adult” and becoming just a regular adult. I never want to celebrate my birthday, but I extra didn’t want to celebrate my 30th birthday because not only was I not young anymore, I was not young and also had not accomplished anything on my list.

To my surprise, when my birthday came the ground didn’t shake and the sky didn’t turn black. Outside, the world looked the same. But on the inside, turning 30 changed everything for me.

I was a failure…And it felt great.

Shortly after turning 26 until I finally turned 30, I was like a typical cat in a bathtub. I clawed at the sides, desperate to achieve my goal and accidentally scratched people who got too close. Yet if I had stopped trying to get to where I thought I had to be, I might have realized where I was wasn’t so bad after all.

I didn’t have the husband, or the house, or the kids, or the career before 30. Whoopsie. Sorry, society! It didn’t happen and now it never could.

Accepting my failure allowed me to open my eyes and think about what I really wanted. Although I still want all those things, the timing can be my own now instead of a due date assigned to me like homework.

“Okay class, complete the assignment and get married before 30 to get an A.”

A lot of people end up going that route, and that’s great for them. They get A’s and some might even get an A+. But it’s also okay to be absolutely giddy with an F.

To anyone feeling anxious about their life goals, and worried it won’t happen in time, you have my permission to let the deadline pass. You don’t need my permission, but you have it anyway.

Be the cat that actually enjoys the bath.

Another fear of turning 30 is the “best years” are behind me. And while it does seem like the warranty on my body just expired—my knee hurts, my back hurts when I sit on the ground, and a heating pad is now a permanent fixture on my bed—overall, turning 30 didn’t change as much as I thought it would.

I’m still me. I still watch cartoons, eat junk food, and wear hoodies and graphic t-shirts. I thought being a 30-year-old-adult meant I was suddenly attracted to salads and cardigans. Actually, I do eat more salad, but it’s because I enjoy them since I learned all the health benefits and…oh no…maybe this is just the beginning of my adulthood zombification?! Keep those cardigans away from me!!

But in all truthfulness, turning 30 has been nice.

My emotions are more stable—and even when they’re not I have the awareness to halt and realize hey, maybe I’m just tired or hangry. Plus my car insurance is cheaper, like by a lot.

I thought my 20’s were my best years. Looking back, however, I see they were mostly turbulent and stressful. I would change a lot if I had to go back and do it again (notice I said “had” to go back, because I do not want to go back there).

I thought turning 30 would be the worst, absolutely devastating because I didn’t do anything a 30-year-old is supposed to.

Turns out it’s just fine. I’m fine. And turning 30 may or may not be the best or worst time.

I do wish my knee would stop hurting though…

Instead of thinking in “best” and “worst,” I’m starting to think in terms of “just is.”

As for the 30th birthday celebrations, I had a massive party and it ended up being a lot of fun. I planned to spend the day by myself wrapped up in a blanket, but this was another one of the times I’m glad my plans fell through.

Meet the author
Founder - Art Director - Animator | Website

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Karianne is the founder of Windmill Ways. She plays the cello professionally and currently works as an Art Director for a charity. Because she loves animated shows and movies, she studies 3D animation and graduated with a BFA with the unfortunate class of 2020. Her dream vacation would be just staying home, but "home" being a glamorous cabin somewhere in the mountains surrounded by forest.

Favorite band: Lord Huron
Favorite book: This Present Darkness
Favorite quote: "Get all the advice and instruction you can, so you will be wise the rest of your life. You can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail." Proverbs 19:20-21 (NLT)

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