How I Feel About Turning 30 — Sophie
How would you describe your 20s?
A mixed bag. I experienced more in my 20s than ever before and moved through the stereotypical stages of a middle class(ish) Southern in her early and mid-20s with relative ease: student, traveller, young professional, Londoner, prosecco enthusiast, Home Counties commuter. But in my late 20s, I feel like I started to experience some of the less desirable aspects of ‘adulting’ (money / health issues, feeling unhappy at work, losing people close to you, etc.) and started to lag behind my peers. My late 20s haven’t been all bad though, I did become a proud cat owner, had some incredible holidays, watched some of my dearest friends get married, and felt more confident and sociable then I ever did in my younger years. I should also probably mention I met the love of my life in my 20s, my cat, but also (and to a lesser extent) my boyfriend.
What was your biggest achievement in your 20s?
This is a tricky one. I was going to say getting my degree, but hand on heart I can’t really say I worked hard for it as I was far more dedicated to my social calendar than my course timetable (sorry mum). I think the thing I feel most proud of is building a life for myself away from home and making some bold moves — excuse the pun. I come from a small, rural town and always fancied myself in the ‘big smoke’ when I grew up. After uni, I moved quite a bit in and around London and am now living in the ‘big smoke’ periphery with my boyfriend and have made a happy life for myself here. I do miss my family and wish I could see them more often, sometimes I even find myself missing small town life, but it was character building and I would do it again in a heartbeat.
What was the biggest regret of your 20s?
Not being a homeowner. This is the thing that niggles away at me a bit when I think back on my 20s. I haven’t even been close to it yet, the downside of living in the South East, but also of being financially irresponsible and living for the moment. I have said ‘yes’ to a lot of things — parties, holidays, clothes, and whilst that has brought a lot to my life, it has also taken a lot…financially.
Do you think your 20s worked out like you expected and how do you feel about that?
I keep expecting to wake up one morning and feel ready to experience some of the big milestones many people experience in their 20s. I am in a long term relationship but not engaged or married like quite a few of my friends, I am also not a mother. I expected to feel ready by now and I find it confusing that I don’t. I even said to a colleague the other day ‘I want kids when I grow up’ and immediately felt embarrassed because I am grown up. I hope I feel good about my decision not to get married or start a family in my 20s when I’m older.
Are you where you thought you’d be ten years ago and how do you feel about that?
In many ways, I am. When I was 20, I thought by the time I was 30 I would be living away from home with a partner, have seen a fair bit of the world, and own a pet/s — that would have been very important to past-me, although, I might have wanted it to be a cat and a dog, possibly a horse…I’m working on it. Past-me might have wanted more for me career-wise though. I never really knew what I wanted to be when I ‘grew up’, and to be honest I still don’t. Ten years ago, I was studying for a history of art and architecture degree and would have loved to have worked in the creative industries. I did do that, sort of, for a brief period of time but overall my career has been pretty business-y and formal.
Do you feel you made things happen in your 20s, or do you feel like your 20s happened to you without any real control?
I feel like I made things happen in my 20s. I have always felt like the master of my own destiny, but there were definitely things that affected me that were out of my control. The economic crash, for example, or the death of a family member.
What do you associate with turning 30?
Being a mature and responsible adult. Building on the foundation you lay for yourself in your 20s.
Are you looking forward to your 30s?
Yes, I am very much looking forward to ‘getting my shit together’ in my 30s. Also, I’ve heard good things about your 30s being the time you feel the most secure and comfortable with yourself.
Does anything scare you about turning 30?
Yes, not ‘getting my shit together’ in my 30s and still feeling as confused and irresponsible as I do now. I almost didn’t write this as it’s incredibly superficial, but…grey hair! I’m no stranger to the wrinkle but I think finding that first grey hair will be a sobering experience, to be fair though there’s a good chance I may find it before my 30th birthday.
Do you think there’s a difference between being a twenty-something and being a thirty-something, and if so what is it?
Maybe less so nowadays. I can’t help but think that future generations will look back on us and be amazed we did further education in our early twenties and started to settle down. Maybe the 30s will be the new 20s in the future. This was a stupid answer, sorry.
What advice would you offer to someone who is about to become a twenty-something?
Drink and eat all of the things!! Travel the world!! Be bold and get out of your comfort zone!! Boring answer — make a plan for what you want to achieve in your 20s and try to stick to it. Be ambitious and don’t let others tell you what to do with your life, unless they are wise and/or a person with a lot of common sense and good timekeeping.
What’s the biggest pressure you feel at this point in your life?
I don’t know if this has come across yet or not (sarcasm) but starting a family. I know I will be approaching the end of the optimum baby making time in my 30s and I want to be ready for it. I don’t want to miss the boat on this one as I’m pretty, 75% sure, I want children. But I also don’t want to bring children into a world like this one right now, so if the world could sort itself out by, let’s say the time I’m 34, I would be grateful.
What’s the one thing you hope to achieve by the time you’re 40?
I want to make a valuable contribution to the community I live in and bring joy and happiness to the people around me. I want to give refuge to people and animals who need it, and other equally vague but socially conscious things.
Sophie is an Editor from Hertfordshire who is a tiny little adventurous bird trapped in the body of a human girl with bills to pay.
Sophie also presents a podcast called I Haven’t Seen It, But… Please have a listen.
More about the How I Feel About Turning 30 series
Do people really care about turning 30 or is this a myth? How do people really feel?
I asked a group of people I know to answer a set of questions about their 20s and entering into their 30s — and this is the result.
Thank you to everyone who took part.