A few thoughts on turning 29

Today I turn 29. Another year none the wiser.

And despite well-meaning words from my mother and a Twitter community of superb women who don’t give a toss about ‘The Big 3-0’, there exists on my radar an unrelenting stream of popular culture that really does like to make a big fucking deal about it: ‘listicles’ divisively, hilariously, separating those in their 20s from those in their 30s; landslides of journalism banging on about declining fertility and average home-buying ages; a quiet consensus that 30 signifies the getting together of one’s shit. So despite my relative unconcern about being older, per se, I am dazzled by the unavoidable 30 up ahead, flashing vulgarly like a fairground ride.

And in a way I just wish I was there already, because once I am, there’s no going back. Sure, as an act of defiance I could get a load of botox done, or take off to India for three months, or drink myself into oblivion in a student bar, but even my extensive drinking skills are no match for the march of time. It will be as it will be.

Here, though, at 29, there’s very much the sense of a great, ominous foreboding, inescapable for the reasons detailed above. Some sense that I still have a tiny window of opportunity to ‘do something’. Not because being 30+ heralds the end of life – far from it – but because our society has put so much emphasis on this landmark age. Before and after.

 Of course, the problem here is that I don’t actually know what that something is. How many 29-year-olds do? This question itself is part of the problem.

Being 29 is like the moment before you step on a plane, or strap yourself into a rollercoaster. It’s the second before you apply the wax, or before you must relinquish the flash cards and go into an exam. It’s the breath before you say ‘I love you’ or ‘It’s over’. Because once you’ve committed to these things – said the words or smeared the hot goo on your legs – that’s that. You’ve just gotta make peace with it. But in that gut-churningly pressurised instant beforehand, there’s still the chance, the opportunity, to do something differently.

But what?

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2 responses to “A few thoughts on turning 29

  1. Haha. Yeah. This was me last year. Now, having had the birthday last month without trying to do anything spectacular (quite deliberately), I’ve alarmingly blossomed out in unexpected directions. “Buggrit, I’m 30, why the hell not?” is my favourite excuse for trying new things… new style of dress, (gasp!) wearing lipstick to work, a different hair colour.

    Oh, here’s another thing (shhh, this is a secret): You don’t have to turn into a grown-up overnight because you’re suddenly 30! I know. Nuts. There’s still time to do all the things you thought you were going to do when you were 21, but now you’ve got 9 years more experience to draw on! Craaaazy.

    I think once you’ve tripped over the mental barrier of the number, you suddenly become comfortable with who you are and start to look at the things you can do instead of the things you can’t or haven’t yet done. I’m happier with ‘me’ now than I ever have been before, and I’ve not really done anything on the giant list of lifestuff that the world seems to think I should have before I got a 3 in front of my age.

    So. Don’t sweat it. Tear the lists up and throw them away, keep figuring out who you are, have fun with the small things (I still can’t believe I’m wearing lippy to work) and I promise you it’s like a mental breath of fresh air. Can’t wait to see what I start doing when I’m 40… Or 60…

  2. Pingback: Being 30+ – Let's not rule anything out

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