“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.