‘Oh my god Vix, you look so young, how can you be in your early thirties?’
Yeah babe thanks but an Instagram filter will do A LOT for wrinkles, grey hair a burgeoning bald patch and an already established middle aged spread, SO THERE WE ARE.
I don’t think it was actually until I turned 31 that ‘being in my thirties’ actually hit me. I mean, I’m barely there. If I was boning my third decade, you could say it’s ‘just the tip’, BUT ALAS. Here we are.
And in the one year, seven months and twenty-one days (please don’t actually calculate this because I’m 4 caramel lattes down and operating on 12% brain capacity) of the thirties that I’ve experienced so far, I can tell ya, it’s been an experience.
Some things I’ve learned have been difficult, some helpful, some enlightening and others, well others are just plain baffling. So here are 31 of those things.
You still don’t feel like an adult. We all watched Rachel turn 30 in Friends and have that monumental but oh-so-real realisation of adulthood – impending life changes and imminent responsibilities.
But you still don’t know the best way to wash clothes to get them smelling nice, or what an ISA is. And you wonder if you ever will.
You know ‘something’ about a pension. OK you might not know what an ISA is. Or where your National Insurance contributions go. But you DO know that you have a pension or that it’s a good idea to get one.
And every time you see your wage slip, you wonder if it’s worth it or whether that money could be better spent on scented candles and fancy condiments for your next dinner party.
However you’re still young enough to think that you’ll never get to pension age but old enough to realise it’s creeping up on you like that pervy Uncle at the last family wedding.
You know you need to make career decisions. Like, ‘is this the job I’ll be in into my forties?’, ‘if I want a baby, will this give me a decent maternity leave?’, ‘will I still have a role afterwards?’, ‘should I climb the career ladder here or do something different?’. All of the questions. All of the decisions.
Perhaps there’s a career you want to pursue but you’re scared to take the leap? And then you worry if you do it, you’ll crash and fail and oh look I’m 40 and I’ve saved nothing. Or you worry that if you don’t do it, the time will pass and oh look I’m 40 and I haven’t gone for anything.
Linen is not your friend. I don’t care how many fashion bloggers half your age tell you to invest in linen ANYTHING, don’t do it. It’s sturdy. It’s unforgiving and it retains a lot of warmth.
In your thirties, when you’re rushing around, completely bossing life, trying to be stylish but not too try hard and you’re on the London Underground for a large portion of the day – THOSE SWEAT PATCHES ON YOUR GOOCH ARE NOT CUTE.
Jersey is your friend. Whether it’s a hoody to cuddle into after your latest break-up break-down over, ‘will I ever find the one?!?’ or sweat pants to solve the problems of the night before – jersey is your best pal. It’s comfortable, light weight, forgiving – not just of your bum but of all of your sins.
And if there’s anything that being in my thirties has taught me, it’s that comfort is key. Investing in some good jersey (by investing I mean spending £8 in Primark every 6 weeks) will right a whole lot of wrongs.
Where you came from doesn’t need to be where you’re headed. If the Drake song doesn’t *quite* resonate, and it’s more relatable to sing, ‘started from the bottom now we’re… still at the bottom but a little bit up’ (which PS, is what I want to call my book) then you’ll understand the struggle of repeating past behaviours until you get a wake up call.
That call doesn’t tend to come in your twenties. You’re too busy partying and learning (*cough*being an introvert and making websites about wrestlers*cough*) to reflect on your past.
But in your thirties, you start emotionally developing more, you see the world in new ways and you start to understand why you act in a certain way – where it’s come from and why it’s harmful. Hopefully you’ll also learn to stop those patterns of behaviour and grow from them.
For example, after being cheated on in my twenties – I constantly felt the need to be alert every time future boyfriend’s phones popped off. It made me edgy and untrusting. Learning that what happened in the past isn’t going to necessarily happen again means that I don’t get so jumpy. But y’know if the boyf wants to tell me WHO Shannon is, then kewl.
You are not your parents. Growing up, it was quite cute to hear, ‘aw you’ve got your Dad’s eyes’ or, ‘aw you react like a witch and have an acid tongue in an argument like your mother’, but after a solid 12+ years of adulthood, you truly gain your own identity.
Yes, there are some nuances you might have picked up like pronouncing ‘quesadillas’ like ‘squeedas’, but a lot of who you are is now shaped by what you have experienced. And you don’t need to read the Daily Mail or have voted leave just because one of your parents did. K?
You’re not failing. I mean, unless you DO read the Daily Mail and voted leave, but generally, wherever you are in your thirties is what’s meant to be. You’re not failing because you haven’t punted out four brats from your vagina, just as equally as you haven’t failed if you became a young parent and let a career slide away. Everything that has happened so far, has led you to where you are and the person you are. And you’re pretty awesome, so how can that be a failure?
It’s drummed in us from such an early age that we have to achieve certain life milestones by certain age brackets, but NAH. The choices we make or don’t make shape us and if we persevere, we’re normally shaped in a pretty good way.
You can be cynical AF. Your twenties effing JADED you. From career lows, to break ups. Bust ups with friends to losing relatives. Life absolutely kicks your ass and it’s easy to be cynical. It’s easy to go forth untrusting, unhappy and unforgiving.
And no one can tell you that’s not OK because they haven’t lived the thirty odd years that you have.
You UNDERSTAND the power of positivity. And not in a wanky, ‘zomg guys 2 good things have happened so a third is DEFO on the way’, kinda way. But you’ve had enough shit-spirals by now to know that once you get in that hole, it’s easy to sink lower.
You understand that negative thoughts about others, your situation and yourself have a way of building and building. You also know that the opposite is true. That you must try not to let the shit spiral out of control. But you also damned well know, sometimes it ain’t that easy.
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High-waisted jeans both solve problems AND have a lot to answer for. Jesus H(igh-waisted) Christ I would never have picked a pair of Mom jeans in my twenties. I was so worried about whether my stomach would bulge out, whether my huge hips would show and whether my camel toe would end up looking like the camel’s hoof, leg and whole frigging body.
BUT I LEARNED SUMMAT. I learned that yes, whilst possible camel-toe is ever present, there is nothing quite like the sweet relief of leaving the house and not having to worry about bending over and showing everyone your pants/bum crack/spotty bum cheeks.
Literally no-one gives a shit about body hair. I mean, they probably do. Some douchebag in his twenties is still probably giving his latest Tinder conquests shit for not shaving their pubes, or some trash-ional newspaper is still plastering images of celebs with 4 hairs sprouting from their underarms on their front page but no-one that you care about, or should waste your time caring about, cares.
Yes you might get a few glances towards your leg region on the tube when you’re wearing mid-calf culottes and 4 months of growth but the best thing is – you couldn’t care less.
A bar cart makes you feel like a grown up. Renting my own place? Pah. Setting up a council tax bill? Nailed it mate. Choosing a colour scheme for your decor? Piece of piss.
But DAMN, having a bar cart and stocking it with the finest types of alcohol that your budget (and your local Aldi have to offer) can buy REALLY makes you feel old. And together. And just at peak life.
You look different. Ain’t no-one posting 2012vs2018 comparison pictures when in 2012 they were 25 and in 2018 they were 31 because YOU FUCKING AGE.
Yes I could have botox, and chin/lip/eyeball fillers. I could dye my grey hair and buy bras that will stop my tits sagging. Yes there are tons of remedies out there I *could* use to reverse the signs of ageing (and I might) but there isn’t any escaping from the fact that you do start to look different.
And different doesn’t mean, ‘bad’ or ‘worse’. You’re just entering a new phase of life. One where it’s less, ‘tucking your belly button bar into your waistband to hide it from your teacher’s glare’ and more ‘tucking your nipples into your waistband to hide it from yourself’.
None of the things that happen to your body when you age are bad, or gross, or terrifying but they can take some getting used to. It’s certainly taking me some time…
You’re the adult. When serious shit happens in your twenties, it’s perfectly acceptable to run to the nearest adult for help. But in your thirties – you are the adult. Hopefully you’ll have adultier adults around you to support this transition, but if you don’t, it can be a huge hit in the tits.
Real adult problems start to affect you – job losses, financial constraints, relationship dilemmas, the list is endless. And yes, you may have a pair of jersey sweatpants you can climb into like a problem-punching shield, but you do still have to sort those problems out.
You’re not cool. I mean you definitely still ‘ARE’ cool but whilst the rest of the world is raving to Kiss, you’re definitely becoming more Heart mornings with Jamie and Emma. Your best songs are all over a decade old and you just don’t ‘get’ some of the offerings of the Boohoo ‘new in’ page.
And it’s OK. Because ‘cool’ is a weird trait to aspire to. You realise in your thirties, you’d much rather be, ‘timeless’ and ‘relevant’ any way.
Well that’s your excuse for not boarding the ‘SKRRR PAP PAP’ hype anyway.
It aches, EVERYWHERE. Perhaps you avoided any harm, injuries or illnesses in your formative years. You possibly, like me, had the privilege of growing up health-scare-free and then BAM. Thirty hits.
Now you can’t get up without groaning. Your first 5 steps of each day are echoed with a cacophony of clicks and whilst you normally could power through a 10 hour shift without a sit down, the first thing you do once you’re through the door in the evening is sling off your shoes and put your feet up as soon as physically possible.
Death is a thing. CHEER UP VIX. I know, gloomy and bleugh. But yes, you start becoming more aware of death. Whether that’s through losing family members or pets or just suddenly seeing your next 30-40 years a lot more clearly, you realise that death is a very real thing.
Whereas your twenties were all about living and remembering your child-hood, once you get to thirty you think hard about your future.
And whilst you’d possibly like to see yourself as a Samantha Jones, perennially childless and ABSOLUTELY OWNING IT, you DO start to wonder if you’re going to die alone, and who will succeed you, and who will plan your funeral and ugh can I just stick on some Heart, whack my sweater on and hole away for a sec.
You should never stop learning. Maybe your education was short lived or you did as much as humanly possible without being actual Einstein and have had your fill but getting to your thirties, meeting people, travelling, working – it all makes you realise that there is always more we could know.
My thirties have found me reading more, investigating more, watching more documentaries but then cross referencing what I found out in THOSE with further research because gah, I don’t want to be ignorant to the world around me any more.
Sometimes there’s TOO MUCH to wrap your head round. The Illuminati, the Federal Reserve bank, some conspiracy about how a teddy represents that Beyonce is actually dead – the list of things that you feel like you SHOULD get your head round is endless.
If you are trying, AT LEAST YOU ARE TRYING. Your thirties isn’t about having your head round it ALL. But maybe you’re switching to cruelty free, or trying not to buy into fast fashion so much or you’re doing SOMETHING to give back – you’re trying.
Sex is so much better. I am so glad that we are bringing up a more sexually positive generation but DAMN SEX IN MY TWENTIES WAS SHIT. I cared too much about being the cool girl, or the wannabe porn actress or putting a man’s needs above my own to really get to grips with what makes sex good for me.
But in your thirties, you’re stronger, wiser, more experienced and hopefully you have grown a backbone to desire so much more.
Being jabbed in the cervix with two fingers is sooooo 24 – being on the receiving end of constant, fantastic oral sex even if you haven’t de-pubed in 9 weeks is oh-so-31.
Young people are an inspiration. And by young I mean anyone 29 and under because BLESS THEIR COTTONS. They haven’t seen what we’ve seen.
But seriously though, seeing a new generation who are SO much more aware of world politics, of socio-economic parities and modern history and who use this knowledge for good, whether it’s activism, campaigning or raising awareness amongst their peers is something we (in our thirties) did not have in our generation.
We are not too old to take heed and join them.
Old people are an inspiration. And by old I mean anyone over 40 because SHIT. Not only have they survived the gut-wrenching uncertainties that being in your twenties has thrown at you, but they are also through all of the identity-confirming/pressuring-yourself-not-to-fail bullshit that creeps in, in your thirties.
Even if some of them did cause Brexit. No tea, no shade, baby-boomers.
You can seek help. If you’re struggling, if one of life’s events has punched you in the gut, it’s OK to get help.
Sometimes being in your thirties means your support system is dwindling – whether that’s through losing parents or having friends make significant life changes and drifting away – and you need to seek help elsewhere.
No one will judge you and there are more of you struggling than you realise. Plus what’s the point in reaching career highs if you’re not going to spend your hard earned wages on therapy AMIRITE.
Buy shit buy twice. Now I KNOW I sound like your Ma but it’s true. It took me to 31 to stop paying £1 for bin-liners that always broke and left my house stinking of 4 day old pizza.
If you buy anything on the cheap side (where you can reasonably afford a better option) you’re going to regret it. Case in point – our bed. At £200 for a king-size frame and ‘luxury’ memory foam mattress, we thought we’d basically won the lottery. Until 3 minutes after putting it up it had one side falling down and 2 months after owning it, the memory foam has as much firmness left as my thighs.
Face wipes are the devil. Trust me, I understand the sheer NEED for a Simple £1.75 for 2 jobby when you’re 25, rolling in from a Friday/Saturday night double header and your 7 layers of liquid lipstick just needs to GTFO your face. But in your thirties, where a bit of smudged eyeliner is the LEAST of your facial worries, you need to invest in a skin care routine.
And I’m being the biggest hypocrite here because this is what Caroline Hirons told me and I’M STILL NOT DOING IT.
You can learn a better skin care routine. I’M TRYING OK. I have a Kiehl’s face wash now leave me TF alone.
Abbreviations don’t make you cool. But you can still use TF, GTFO, OMFG til your heart is content because you’re secure enough in your own coolness to not give AF.*
Your stamina dwindles. Which means you find it hard to finish things. Like blog posts that need 31 paragraphs and why TF did I do this to myself.
So does your concentration span. Hi are you still reading? Or have you started ordering a bar cart yet?
You have less time for people. Especially people who write long AF list posts with abbreviations and wanky terms who are just trying to stay relevant.
But seriously, in your twenties you wanted to collect friends like a solid session on Pokemon Go (I’m cool) however in your thirties, your circle is reserved only for those who enrich your life.
You find yourself having less patience with mere acquaintances and even less patience for petty little pieces on social media who are just detrimental to your over all well-being.
Therefore you are more cranky. So you block left, right and centre, freely tell people about themselves and abandon too long blog posts before the end because YOU ONLY HAVE A FINITE AMOUNT OF TIME LEFT TO LIVE.
I’m not even sure this blog post has 31 things that I’ve learned but in this time, I’ve learned that I’m too old, cranky and wise enough to give a shit.
*AF means as fuck not a fuck which I have just realised. Sorry.
So my fellow thirty-somethings – what have YOU learned in your time on this planet? Please come and tell me on Insta/Twitter so I don’t feel as old and as alone.
I’m super fortunate to have this blog where I can chronicle my journey into my thirties – coming to grips with it, seeing how it changes me and seeing what changes I make so THANKS for sticking around and I look forward to carrying this journey on!
Photos by Kaye.