Why (So Far) My 30s are Better Than My 20s

“With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come.” 
― William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice

I’m on the cusp of another birthday so I thought I’d reflect a bit on why, thus far, my 30s are leaving my 20s in the dust. I always looked forward to my 30s in my teenage years and young adulthood and I was not wrong to do so. You could not pay me to set the clock back to my previous decade. Here are a few reasons why:

Body confidence. Don’t get me wrong, I still have a shed load of insecurities but I’m no longer crippled by excruciating self hatred for my corporeal form. Thank god, I never want to go back to that dark self-inflicted shame spiral! I also, shock surprise, actually like quite a few things about my body which is a future 21 year old me could never imagine. Which was foolish and short sighted in the extreme because I now know in my 30s that my 20s body was pretty good and I miss it.

A somewhat congealed sense of self. I feel like everyone is a bit lost or up in the air in their 20s and though on paper I was ticking a lot of boxes, the truth was that I had no idea what I was doing most of the time. My identity was all over the place and most of my identifiers were external. Now, in my early 30s, I feel like I have a handle on my personality and personhood (warts and all). I may not like all my traits, but I also know which ones I want to work on improving, and which are 100% okay to accept. I own my likes and dislikes, my strengths and my terrible weaknesses, my ambitions and my shortcomings much more handily than I could have ever imagined a decade ago.

A developed professional grounding. Ten years ago I was about to graduate university and had no clue what I was getting into. Now I’ve been able to try a couple of different jobs and ways of working, and learned the things I value in a workplace. I’ve freelanced full time and worked in offices, and while I haven’t found the perfect balance (I’d like to get more creative or writing work back into my life), I’m earning where I feel I should be at the present moment.

Fewer ****s to give. I care less about what other people think about me than I have ever done and it’s great. There are a few, carefully identified people in my life whose good opinion matters to me and whose judgement I value. The commentary or disapproval of anyone not on that list barely registers anymore. This shift has been life changing.

Goals accomplished. There have been setback and surprises and there is a long list of life goals that I feel behind on, but in my 30s I feel like I can say I’ve started achieving some of the things I’ve prioritized and that are important to me. I wanted to move back to London, and we made it happen. I wanted to try to freelance full time and I did it for three years. I wanted to be making a certain salary and I’ve hustled hard towards that goal and it’s within reaching distance. Am I where I’d thought I’d be in all cases? HELL NO. Am I okay overall? HELL YES.

I’m going to spend the weekend being grateful for where I’m at.

3 thoughts on “Why (So Far) My 30s are Better Than My 20s”

  1. Love this.

    I really enjoyed some of my 20s and have fond memories…but ohhhhh, there was endless agony over work and boys and my family dramas. I then wasted most of my 30s on the wrong marriage — but have since recouped!

    Happy to welcome you to your next decade!

    1. You’ve recouped spectacularly. I feel like I lost my 20s to misfit jobs in a recession that we were just trying to get through. Our 30s in some ways are going to be about recouping those losses (and they are definitely financial).

      1. Thanks!

        It can be and feel like a real slog — and I really think you MUST give yourself lots and lots of extra credit. People have NO idea how very difficult it is (oh, but they speak English!) to try and break into a wholly new work/social environment/country/culture (as I did, too) without enjoying the essential social lubrication of decades of familiarity — attending the same churches, schools, camps, parties, etc.

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