I wrote this list to cheer up a friend who seemed anxious about a particular birthday we both faced this past February (despite this friend being a man who receives precisely zero amounts of nagging about ticking biological clocks) and I thought it’d be nice to share – for those of us who already know it’s no big thing, and others who might not be there yet.
1. Despite the cultural messages I’ve received about this Scary Milestone Birthday, turning 30 is the same as most other birthdays. You can have cake and presents, and if you go out to dinner and drink too much, everyone laughs and pretends it’s charming when you talk for half an hour about how birds look like tiny feathered dinosaurs.
2. Small business owners will not call security if my friends and I sit outside their stores with our coffees and smart casual clothes, discussing nice meals we’ve had lately. Being accused of loitering is much harder than when I was 15 and had purple hair extensions and hand-drawn peace signs on my overalls.
3. Retail staff who work on commission are nicer to me, because they’re under the impression I now have money to spend on sparkly things and overpriced handbags. I don’t, but the extra smiles and flattery are nice.
4. Each year I get older decreases the likelihood that visitors to my office will think I’m someone’s secretary.
5. I’m pretty good at trivia and general knowledge-type games simply by virtue of having been alive for three decades worth of movie releases, elections and celebrity divorces.
6. The odds of accidentally mispronouncing words like “chasm”, “facade” or “coup d’etat”, because I’ve never said them out loud before, are low, since I’ve said most words by now.
7. People are less likely to argue with you when you contend that music/books/film/clothes were somehow better when you were a teenager. This is, of course, completely false and always has been for every single generation that ever claimed this, but less people will tell you this, due to a mild form of survivorship bias.
8. Whenever I start a sentence with, “I remember when I was young…” small children will gather at my feet with expression of quiet awe to hear my story.
9. It takes exactly 30 years to find underwear that is both cute AND comfortable.
10. I am now only 3 years away from being 33, when my current passport finally expires and I can get a new one with a less horrific photo.
11. I am now out of the target demographic for things sold to “young people”. I could probably get rich by approaching youth-oriented snack companies and offering to strike a deal whereby they give me a suitcase of cash, and I make sure their products never publicly appear in my wrinkly hands.
12. By now, every cartoon I watched as a child has been repackaged and sold back to me by companies relying on the dollar value of nostalgia. There are no more nasty surprises left wherein the things I loved are redesigned to be “sexier” or “edgier”. Except for sexy Voltron. I hope that’s not a thing.
13. Young children will often refer to me as a “lady”, i.e. “Mummy, why is that lady buying so much ice cream?”. This makes me feel elegant and refined.
14. There’s a much lower bar for having people think that you’re daring. No-one ever called a 19-year-old brave for going to a reggaeton dance class or seeing a band on a Tuesday night, but I am widely praised.
15. I’m more comfortable with my sense of personal style and feel less compelled to have people approve of my outfit. This means that 98% of the time when I leave the house I am warm and comfortable.
16. The other 2% of the time, I feel more confident about taking a risk, so I don’t spend the whole night driving everyone crazy asking if I look okay.
17. Scumbag real estate agents will discriminate in my favour when deciding on a new tenant for a nice apartment.
18. Waiters let me taste the wine before they pour me a whole glass, because they think I might know what bad wine tastes like now that I don’t exclusively drink $2.50 cleanskins.
19. More people ask me for advice and actually listen to my answer. I’m still not much better at taking my own advice, but man, do I sure love giving it.
20. It’s fun and easy to freak out the people you grew up with, by playing them a song you both used to love and then reminding them the album was released 15 years ago.
21. I’m just the right age to wear returning fashion trends I loved when I was 12, but were too grown up for me then. This doesn’t apply to overalls, but I’m okay with that.
22. Nobody suggests I should be out clubbing on a Friday night and “making the most of my youth” instead of making a complicated salad and watching a documentary about fonts.
23. I’ve had enough experience with self-doubt to know the worst-case scenario situation will probably never happen. And if it does, I’ll be better able to handle it than I thought. This goes for embarrassing public speaking incidents, natural disasters, and various forms of heartbreak.
24. It’s nice to know that the first day of holidays still hasn’t stopped being exciting.
25. You’re still young enough to wholeheartedly roll your eyes at someone who tells you that “30 is the new 20” and this will continue to be the case with every subsequent decade.
26. Media stories about people your age will say things like “the perpetrator of the chocolate factory heist was a 30-year-old woman” and you can sigh with relief, knowing less people still think it’s okay to refer to you as a “girl”.
27. As someone who really enjoys opening a fresh notebook, or getting a clean towel, a whole fresh decade is a great feeling.
28. It starts looking a tiny bit less ridiculous to plan out all of the combinations of crushed velvet scarves and elaborate brooches that I plan to wear to the theatre when I turn 65.
29. Men who think that only women under 25 are worth dating will gradually stop hitting on me in public. The ones who still do by accident will be a lot of fun, because I can interrupt their monologue about how hip they still are to say something flippant about impending menopause and watch them back away in wide-eyed horror.
30. Turning 30 is a good thing to write a blog post about, because a lot of people feel anxious about the idea of 30 and it kills two birds with one stone to have something obvious to write about, and to also reassure you that 30 is great and totally nothing to worry about it. This is the truth.