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Not Freaking Out

Monday, 11 March 2013

I turn thirty in exactly one month.

I'll only look like this if I'm made to wear a pink party hat though.

I read a brilliant post on Just Me last week - Becks is in the same position but *is* freaking out about it. Fair dos.  I sympathise with her in a lot of ways and yes, a lot of the same argh moments have hit me recently. But ultimately, I'm not freaking out.

Here's the thing.  The big milestones and must-do things in life are only imposed by society. When you do them, and if you do them at all, is entirely up to you. I am by no means a rebellious type of person but I won't conform with norms just because the world wants me to.  30 is only classed as a significant birthday because it ends in a zero.  The important ones - the ones that mean you're old enough to drink, vote, drive - they all come much earlier in life. Anything after that isn't a big deal. It's just a number.

The Big Four things that you're meant to have done by the time you're 30 are pretty well established as get married, have kids, buy a house and have a good career.

Other than the career part, I don't have any of those things.  In fact, if you're judging me by strict job-snobby criteria then I probably don't have what some people would class as a career. Not the suits and management sort of career anyway.  I have a job that I really love and am very good at. It's within a large charity but I'm the only person in my department in my office, so there isn't really career progression as such, plus I don't have that sort of ambition that would force me into uprooting my entire life and upping sticks halfway around the country just to earn a few grand more per year.  I'm happy where I am and that's more important to me.

I'm entirely unbothered about two of the remaining three things.  If you don't know of my stance on the whole children issue by now, let me sum it up for you briefly: NO. I can't think of anything worse. Getting married is not something that appeals to me either. Yes, it would be nice to have a man but it's hard enough to find one, let alone one that I want to spend the rest of my life with.  It'd be a miracle if I managed that in the next month!  Frankly, if you've found the person you want to spend the rest of your life with when you're nice and young, lucky you. Most of us don't have that luxury.  As for my thoughts on weddings, don't get me started...

The house thing is kinda beyond my control. A single person earning the amount I earn cannot afford their own house. It's as simple as that.  It depends what the future holds as to whether I ever own property or not but I can't say it's something that bothers me greatly.

Whether the traditional Big Four are even still valid or not is up for debate too.  The world is changing. People have got other things to do with their lives and not enough money to afford things like houses and children. Of my immediate circle of friends and family, I know one person who was married and had a kid before they were 30.  We're all lucky enough to have jobs. Do we all have houses? No. Most of us rent, even the couples.  The ones that want kids aren't really thinking about it till they're in their 30s.  I think it's becoming more and more prevalent that your 20s are for uni, having fun, figuring out your place in the world and then, if you want to, settling down. Having your whole life wrapped up by the age of 25 doesn't seem to be happening so much anymore.

I spent most of my 20s being fat, shy and unhappy and it's only the past few years that I've really started to become happy with who I am.  I'm a late starter. So what?  I'm quite happy with my life as it is right now. Ultimately, me aged 30 will be no different from me aged 29 and that's why I'm not freaking out about it. 


  1. I think this is a great outlook. I have sort of had and lost one of the Big Four, not interested in two of the others and the other one can wait for a while. I think society has changed so much over the past few years that marriage isn't relevant anymore, maybe it's not a Big one anymore?

  2. Bravo Alex, brilliant post! I must admit to having something of a meltdown coming up to my 30th last year, til my Dad got ill and everything was forced into sharp perspective. Whenever I feel down about being single and still living at home, I remind myself of all the things I HAVE done that other people haven't - way more exciting than mortgages and changing mats too I can tell you! We'll celebrate in style at the weekend! xx

  3. Great post Alex. I firmly believe the four things are completely irrelevant to age, and it would be very dull if everybody ticked all four off by a certain date. You are so right, it's not about having those things, instead it’s about wanting and choosing when to have them. And sometimes it's just not possible. I think a lot of people forget it may be self-satisfying to have them - but it's just as easy to lose them or worse take them for granted.
    I second Lucy, we will have a brilliant weekend :)

  4. I totally get where Becks is coming from (I went over and read her post) but you're quite right that there is shouldn't be this pressure about ticking things off in a certain time-frame. I was lucky in that I found the right guy fairly early on, and I wouldn't swap my kids, but LOADS of my mates are only having kids now (we're 36), plenty are single and at least 2 are, like you, settled on no kids at all. No one bats an eye at anyone's choices/

    I will admit to feelings of doom about my career though, they all have them, I blog. Must stop waiting to be discovered and kick some bloody doors down!

  5. too right, it's all nonsense. I don't think anyone actually expects people to have these things nowadays do they? As you say, without a donated deposit property is pretty much out of reach for a single person, and everyone changes career so much, out of choice or necessity. I have loads of friends who went back to studying to retrain at age 30. And I'm pretty much the first of my close friends with a baby, and I'm 31.

  6. You're so right - the only thing I really want from that list is a career, the rest I'm more or less 'meh' about (although I definitely don't want children, there's far too many of them around!). Happy almost birthday! :)

  7. We seem to the be the generation that aren't so set on children! I definitely think the expectation of doing things by a certain age is not a good thing- it makes people feel inferior if they haven't achieved the things they are supposed to. My ex-boyfriend was so set on buying a house, he bought one aged 22 (in Manchester at a good time), which I couldn't understand, the career- I felt it was important to earn my way in the world, doing something I was happy with and felt worthwhile doing that utilised my skills but I have no ambitions to be a head or deputy or anything like that- happy just to be a teacher!
    Marriage is important for me because of being Christian however, if I hadn't met someone who I wanted to marry, then I was happy to remain single- didn't want to compromise on that!
    Happy birthday lovely girl!x

  8. My husband was 40 in Jan. We only bought a house last Sept (I am 37).
    I am freaking out at the thought of being 40 but man, 30 is NOTHING!!!! You sound so young......nearly 30. Christ I'm jealous.
    Bit sad how you are so dismissive of wanting children because yes it is hard work, but mine have given me more joy than I can possibly imagine and for some reason, I think you'd make a great mum (just how well dressed would your kids be!!!)
    But that's your choice.
    I think we are just lucky to be alive and well. Stuff the 4 things society believes we should have/be doing.
    It's good you are so comfortable in your own skin.
    Just never say never, is all.

  9. I have always maintained the one thing you can do nothing about is your age.
    My 30's were pretty damn good actually, I was finally comfortable in my own skin. I met Himself when I was 29, completely unexpected but very nice and we are still together 15 years later. Kids I have never wanted, marriage? maybe one day. I'd love a house but that hasn't happened and I don't see it happening any time soon due to finances. I don't see the point in letting society making you feel a failure if actually you are very happy where you are at!

    When I turned 40 I decided to spend the year doing lots of things I had never done before and saying yes to every opportunity I had a bloody brilliant time.

  10. I think traditional expectations only ever get wheeled out on big birthdays by older generations but I am quite happy to go my own way, I always feel incredibly lucky that I have found a job I love (even if it pays peanuts!)

    Maria xxx

  11. i hated 30 for the exact same reasons you have highlighted, i was not in the 'right' place for someone my age and i felt inadequate as a result and i knew it was simply because of me not being where i 'should' be - but! my forties are completely different and its lovely, i just don't care what anyone thinks of me other than those i respect and love - and i think dr. seuss was always wise - be yourself no matter what, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind! love it! x happy birthday for next month

  12. I am confused because I almost think we said the same thing but I maybe we didn't - I don't think I explained myself well in my post - I hate that.

    Also I think it can depend on your circle of friends, whilst you have one that is "settled" by 30 I am the ONLY one who is not either engaged/married/owns a house/has a baby/all of the above.

    Also you don't have Facebook which is definitely a good thing - you are exposed to too many old friends who are hitting milestones when if it wasn't for Facebook you could pretend that none of them existed.


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