Bump And Beyond


The 7 Best Things About Being in Your Thirties*

It’s a phenomenon that all 29 year-olds know all-too-well. The feeling of dread, nay, impending doom that come with those ominous numbers. The big 3-0. We’re conditioned to believe that the end of our twenties is the end of our youth. That by the time we turn 30, we should have our loves all figured out. Or at least be on some sort of personal or career path. And if we fail to have made all of our life choices by the time this dreaded date comes around we’ve fundamentally failed as adults. But, of course, after we get to the other side of 30, we realise that we’ve gotten ourselves all worked up over nothing. We’ve let needless anxiety into our lives and imposed an arbitrary deadline on ourselves that benefits nobody. Least of all us.

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It doesn’t matter if you have yet to score the job of your dreams, or even know for sure where you want your career path to lead. It doesn’t matter if you’ve had kids yet, or even if you’re in a relationship. The Bridget Jones series lied to you! Stop measuring your life by other people’s expectations. Especially when they bear absolutely no relation to the realities that you live with every day.

Besides, living in this state of anxiety and paranoia can not only be bad for your health, it can distract you from the fact that your thirties are arguably the best decade of your life.

You have your own personality
It’s okay to admit it. In our twenties, we still cling to a lot of the same behaviours that we had in our teens. We can tend to define ourselves by our relationships to others and our friendship groups. We can get into the habit of letting others influence everything from the kind of language we use to the products we buy. If you thought peer pressure was something that you’d leave behind when you left school, college or uni… think again!

But with your thirties comes a newfound sense of reassurance and self-certainty. You have a wealth of experiences that have rounded out your personality. You’re more assured in your beliefs and your personal taste. You have the gift of knowing who you are in ways that eluded you in your younger years.

And that can enable you to make positive changed in your life on your own terms. Which brings us to...

You’re comfortable enough to shake things up with your look
Remember those years when you defined your personal style pretty much exclusively by what your friends were wearing? Remember how you’d agonise over the minutiae of your appearance and how something as simple as a few stray hairs out of place or (heaven forbid) a puddle splashing on your immaculate new shoes would send you into paroxysms of anxiety?

Your thirties lend you a great sense of perspective.
No longer do you link your self-worth quite so intrinsically with your appearance. Of course, that doesn’t mean you’ve stopped caring about how you look. But you have a much clearer idea of your own personal style. What’s more, you have the confidence to make changes, take risks and reinvent yourself in ways that you may not have felt comfortable in your younger years.

Whether you want to change the shape of your face with some high quality designer glasses or make a bold statement with a new hair style. Whether you want to try dressing in bolder tones or simply step a little further outside your comfort zone when you go shopping. They say every time you step out you should make one purchase that scares you just a little. They end up being your favourites. And while you may have thought such a prospect unthinkable in your less secure years, you now find it kind of exciting.

You’re not on the bottom rung of the career ladder anymore
The first few rungs on the career ladder are a frustrating nightmare. And if you’re in your late 20s or early 30s you’ve probably spent more time on the bottom rung than your older peers. This has been a decade of economic stagnation and wage repression where corporate employers have deliberately kep wages low in order to supplement their own profit margins. Opportunities have been few and far between and we learned early on that if we want them, we need to be prepared to create our own.

Nonetheless, through sheer determination, elbow grease and a little lateral thinking, by the time we hit our 30s many of us have cleared the bottom rung. Meaning that not only are we earning (slightly) better money, we’re afforded something even more important...the respect of our peers.

No longer are we underestimated at work. No longer do we have to put up with all and sundry stopping by our desks to ask for favours. We have respect that matches our professional pride. And that feels pretty great.

You’re better at your job than ever
Not only are you afforded more respect and professional courtesy at work in your thirties, the chances are you’re actually better at your job! Believe it or not, when we reach this decade we’re at our cognitive peak according to numerous studies. Not only do we have experience, knowledge and understanding that eluded us at the start of our careers, we also have a wealth of skills that are sharper when we reach the big 3-0. Problem solving, abstract thinking, determination and strategy all come into their own. Which is why it’s suspected that chess grand masters peak in their early 30s.

And when we’re good at things, that’s when we tend to enjoy them the most. Of course, that doesn’t mean that stressful days are a thing of the past. But it does mean that your enjoyment to stress ratios are drastically improved, and we experience the right kind of stress at work. The stress that comes from knowing that our skills are being tested and that we have an opportunity to show what we’re made of. As opposed to the terror that comes from feeling woefully out of our depth.

You know what you’re worth on the dating scene
There was a time when you were paralysed with fear at the thought of being a thirty-something singleton. Again, Bridget Jones has not done the world many favours in that regard, nor has it aged particularly well. But dating in your thirties has much less sense of urgency. You might even be able to have some (dare we say it) fun on the dating scene (COVID-awfulness notwithstanding, of course). Gone is this sense that we have to have secured the love of our lives, tied the knot (or at least gotten them to put a ring on it) and started turning the spare room into a nursery by the time we wave goodbye to 29.

No longer do we expect to find fulfilment in our lives exclusively through our relationship with somebody else. We’re secure enough in ourselves to know who we are and what we want. And we’re infinitely less likely to put up with some of the nonsense that we had to wade through when dating in our teens and twenties. We know an idiot when we see one and have no compunctions about cutting them out of our lives when they reveal their true colours.

We know that we’d rather be single than shackle ourselves to someone who doesn’t deserve us because we hold out a glimmer of hope that we might be the one to change them.

You’ll actually be happier than ever before
This may seem difficult to believe. Especially given the anxiety that typically hangs over our late 20s like a raincloud. But while we may dread this decade, when it arrives we not only realise that we’ve been worried over nothing… we actually start to enjoy ourselves.

Studies show that our peak age for happiness is 33. This is the age at which we typically have hit the sweet spot between having enough disposable income to live well, having fewer stressors and anxieties, feeling more confident and self-assured and learned to care less about the things that really don’t matter. We also stop comparing ourselves to others (the ultimate lost cause) and start thinking about how we’re going to out-perform ourselves.

You realise you’re actually not going to become your parents
Finally, one thing that tends to worry us about getting older is that we’ll turn into our parents. We worry that we’ll either make the same mistakes as them or that we’ll have a lifestyle that’s as pedestrian as theirs appeared to us when we were living under their roof in our teens.

But as we get older, we realise that we’re not going to turn into our parents… we just turn into us with a different set of priorities. And that might mean that we enjoy a long bath a little more and feel a little (or a lot) more alienated by nightclubs.

But by no means is any of that a bad thing!


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