‘I’m So Much Older Than I Can Take’: Reflections on Turning 30


I'm So Much Older Than I Can Take-Reflections on Turning 30

In a few short days, I’ll be turning 30. The big 3-0. And I’m quietly or, I guess, not so quietly freaking out about it.

You, dear readers, are now split up into two camps. Those of you under 30 are probably thinking “Hahaha, Grandpa Simpson, you’re elderly. That will never happen to me, the laws of time and space will somehow bend and I’ll be in my 20s foreverrrrrrrrrr!” To you I say: shut up. One day you too will be staring down the barrel of 30 and I’ll think of you and this imaginary conversation and I’ll laugh. You’ll get yours you young, fabulous fool.

Those of you over 30 are probably thinking “Stop being an idiot. Turning 30 isn’t a big deal. Move on.” To you I say: I’m sure you’re right and in about five to ten days, I’ll probably feel the same way. Today, however, I’m seriously considering pulling a (rumored) Beyonce move and staying 29 for about another five years.

I honestly don’t know why the idea of turning 30 fills me with such dread. I already have two kids and enjoy listening to Phil Collins; I’m basically a 55-year-old anyway. It’s not like I go out a lot (or really, ever) and being 30 will somehow cramp my non-existent social butterflying. Literally nothing about my life will change upon turning 30, other than the fact that I have to tell people I’m 30.

And I think that’s where the trouble lies. Saying out loud that I’m 30 and grappling with the expectations that come along with it. Mainly that I’m an actual adult woman. This is a realization you’d think would have happened when I first gave birth to a human being, but you’d be wrong. Since my oldest son was born, I’ve just kind of felt like the same old me as before, but now just totally in charge of someone else’s life, like Charles from Charles in Charge or one of the older kids on Party of Five.

But 30 feels different. 30 feels big. 30 feels like the outside world will view me through a different lens and expect me to think and act and look a different way. When I googled ‘turning 30,’ I was inundated with lists like ‘Things You MUST Do Before Your 30th Birthday’ and ‘30 Things Every Woman Should Know Before She Turns 30.’ Like, if I don’t travel around Spain alone or learn how to change a tire before my birthday on Sunday, someone will come and escort me to a home for useless and boring 30 year-olds.

The implication of all this is, obviously, that 30 is the end of something. The end of youth, the end of experimentation, the end of your time to do what you want without the rest of the world stepping in to say “Okay, enough. You should have figured all this out by now.” We’re sent the message, especially as women, that 30 is like a period on the sentence of your life. If you don’t have every detail figured out or haven’t accomplished everything you want to, you might as well give up. You have 30 years to gather all the tools you need for a successful life and if you’re not ready when the clock runs out, sorry. You’re too old now.

I’ve found myself worrying if some of the things about myself and my life will still be ok in a post-30 world. Is it still ok that I use Simpsons quotes at literally every available opportunity or will that just seem bewildering and sad? Or you know, even more bewildering and sad than it currently does? Can I still buy my shoes from the little girls’ section because they’re cheaper and my feet are freakishly small or is that just weird? Is it okay that I have no idea what I’ll do career-wise because I left work to stay home with my kids and now I’m terrified of the judgments from the 22-year-olds who will no doubt be my corporate overlords whenever I do return to some kind of employment?

The answer is: I don’t know. I’d like to say I won’t bow to the pressures of how a 30-something woman should act and I’ll one day be wearing my Gap Kids shoes while yelling “Boo-urns” at my much younger boss on my first day back to work in ten years. I’d like to say I won’t feel guilty or inadequate because I don’t have an impressive career and I haven’t traveled to all the places I want to yet and I don’t have ‘a cordless drill, a set of screwdrivers and a black lace bra.’ (Shut up, Glamour Magazine.)

I hope I can feel confident enough in myself to ignore other people’s perceptions about what getting older means and just live my life the way I want. I hope you will too or already have, depending on which side you’re looking at this from. If everyone treated turning 30 (or really, any age) as just another birthday and not some benchmark or endpoint, everyone could just live the life that makes them feel fulfilled and joyful without worrying about where they are or what they should be doing. They could just be and that would be fine.

So, my name is Ashley. I’m almost 30; I have a few grey hairs, sometimes wear kids’ shoes and yesterday I ate most of a bag of Cheetos for lunch. And that will just have to be good enough for now.