26 October 2012

When I get older

Milestone birthdays have always managed to unnerve me. Admittedly I haven't experienced all that many, but the ones I have seem to have set the tone. That being fear.

Turning 18 for example filled me with so much dread - was I now meant to be responsible and a grown up? Was I meant to think about bills and what the hell I really wanted to do with my life? Obviously not the case at all, but 18 when you've only ever known being a child (no matter how "mature" you feel) sounds so terribly grown up: I could now go to pubs (legally - I'd been drinking in pubs underage for a good two to three years before then). More importantly, I could now vote. With age comes great responsibility you see.

21 threw me even more. I spent the night before my birthday listening to Ladytron's 'Seventeen' on repeat, my childish heart mortified that 21 would render me "no fun". Still clearly not the case, though I was starting to feel like one of the slightly older girls when going to indie clubs (do we all grow up so fast?)
I didn't do anything to particularly mark the coming of age birthdays - 18 didn't really feel of age, and by the time I turned 21 it felt like a missed opportunity, beyond finally being able to buy my own alcohol in the US.

25, while not really a milestone caused another wobble - what the hell was I doing with my life? What did I want to do? It certainly threw me in terms of what I thought I wanted to do, as I fell foul of the first wave of recession. Ultimately though, it set me on the path of knowing what I wanted to do.

So this year, I had to face up to the biggest one so far - 30. In the run up, I remembered a scene from 90's law drama Ally McBeal where the title character checks her face for wrinkles on the morning of her 30th birthday. I toyed with the idea of having a bucket list of things to do before I turned 30, until I remembered that I had probably ticked off most of it by the time I was 21 and I didn't want to live my life over again. The only other desire was to get married before I was 30, and since that had happened back in May (and for the right reasons, before you ask!) there was little to do but wait.

The day itself arrived with little fanfare - I didn't suddenly get wrinkly and old overnight, nor did I have some strange personality shift and become composed and serious. Best of all, I still get ID'ed when buying wine. It's not all bad: all those I've asked who got there before me say your 30's are the best years of your life. And I think they are probably right. You leave behind the crippling insecurity of your early 20's, you are more comfortable in your own skin (indeed, you don't actually age overnight) and if you're lucky, you're in a job you love and feel at ease with the direction your life is going. Just don't mention turning 40.

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