My birthday is 28 September, 1989. I’ve decided that I’m making a souvenir for my last 30 days of my twenties - writing a blog a day for 30 days between 26 August 2019 - 28 September 2019. 30 blog posts; 30 days; 30 years alive.
Since I was young, the year 30 has been marked out - carved in stone cold hetero-societal norms - to be the age every woman ‘fears’ turning. 30, we’re told, is an age to assess how successful you are. ’Thirteen Going On Thirty’ was the first film I ever went on a date with a boy to (from Helen O’Grady after school drama class, Year 8, adorned in Paul Frank) bringing my friends Amelia and Maria in tow to his confusion. I’ve never watched the film since it was such a mortifying experience because I had NO clue what to do on an actual date with a boy. In this chick flick, the protagonist who hates being 13 fast forwards through time to see her ‘ideal’ life as a 30 year old. The implication is that we’re all supposed to be successful business-women with a white couch and Manolo’s at 30. Jennifer Garner is slim, attractive and on the up. 30 means sorted. Which begs the question: am I sorted? Am I? The answer is definitively ‘No’.
30 is the end of the mythological glory of your 20’s - and it feels scary. I’m by far the only woman to metaphorically hyperventilate into a brown paper bag at the idea of leaving my twenties. Time columnist Dolly Alderton has written about her unexpected panic at the reality of turning 30, something she admits being embarrassed by because it is decidedly un-feminist. Helen Fielding immortalised the woes of getting older in Bridget Jones: Considered to be the poster-girl as an over-the-hill ‘thirty-something’, Bridget constantly doubting her place in life and worried about dying a spinster. Even if you have a man in your life, you might doubt your weight, your career choices, salary, asset ownership and travel experience. 30 is when we’re meant to know ourselves and feel like we’re confident adults. But what if that’s not realistic? What if you don’t feel ‘sorted’?
Dear reader, like Dolly Alderton I am ashamed to admit I’ve felt slightly weird about the thought of turning 30. It is a new decade, a new beginning, and new chapter but for some reason, ‘30’ has hooked its patriarchal tentacles inside my brain, sending all stations into panic mode. What kind of party should I have? Do I want a party? Can we afford a party if I am paying for a wedding next year? Can my friends who have just had babies come? Will they want to come? Why is everyone suddenly having babies and buying houses? Others has assured me it isn’t all the thunder claps and woe I think it is: “Honestly” my friend Josie said to me over a gin at Dillingers a few weeks ago. “It’s just like going back to zero again. 29 is much worse!”
Pathetically, 30 just makes me want to curl up in a cave and wait for all the fuss to pass. But I won’t be doing that.
The irrefutable fact that turning 30 rudely throws up in your face is that we’re all ageing. Time is slipping through our fingers like sand. When I turned 25, I remember feeling awed that my next big birthday would be 30. It felt like an eternity away, just like the idea of turning 40 or 50 does now. It was like looking out over a long beach and seeing a lighthouse in this distance. It felt small and irrelevant to who I was, a different person that would wear black silk dresses and sip martinis at art openings. In the moment, in the now, we felt like we’d all be 25 forever, and that time would just stretch and melt, like an exercise band that you pull out and bounced right back.
But life doesn’t work like that. Time marches ever forward. And, if we stop for a moment, thank god it does. I was speaking to a friend of mind last night who I met when we did our Greek Island sailing tour in October last year. She told me that an ex of hers died within 6 months of brain cancer this year, between leaving to go on the tour and the end of Danish Winter in February this year. “Stop worrying and live life because anything could happen” she urged me. “I’m 51. You’re never too old!” As such, my friend is going to sail the Atlantic Ocean from the Caribbean to St Lucia - because she’s decided to take pleasure from life and live in the here and now.
I’m doing this primarily to please myself and take pleasure in being able to look back and mark this period in time, like a dog marks its territory on a walk. But also because it’s a chance to look back on the last 29 years and 11 months of my life and ponder on what it means to pass this life milestone. Basically, this project for the next 30 days is me metaphorically urinating on the trajectory of my life to date. Yay.
So here we are: day 1 of 30 days of 30. I’ll be posting 7:30pm every evening with a freshly squeezed post. I’ve done no preparation, and this could all go pear shaped faster than you can say ‘Sex and the City’. But really - what have we got to lose?
Wearing Max, Mini Cooper and Bata Bullet sneakers.