The rise of the twirty-somethings
Last weekend, I spent the majority of the two days hidden away in my bedroom. No, I wasn’t reenacting my teens; I’d had to cancel a trip home to my parents for various reasons and decided to have a restful weekend to try and get over my month long cold. I slept in ’til late, stayed up ’til 1am, watched films including Clueless and Jurassic World, caught up on Home and Away, read some magazines, ate fish fingers and waffles for lunch and had a clear out of my wardrobe to take to the charity shop. I did my Christmas shopping online using my overdraft (why is Black Friday before pay day? It DOESN’T MAKE SENSE.) I broke our shower curtain for the umpteenth time and swore as I cleaned up my housemates’ mess, then played loud music to cheer myself up. And this is not a particularly unusual weekend for me. And I’m 30 years old.
Yes, you read that right. I am 30. Soon to be 31 in fact. But I am also single, renting, childless, relatively penniless (that’s a career in writing for you) and very bad at ‘adulting’, apparently. To be fair, I’m not the only one — there’s a whole generation of us pottering along as if we’re in our early twenties, not a care in the world (this is actually a highly inaccurate phrase — in my early twenties I was a worried wreck, caring about everything far too much whereas now I really don’t give a shit), young and free and with time on our side. I like to think of us deviants as people in our ‘twirties’ — thirty-something year olds who act like they’re still in their twenties because life hasn’t changed in quite the way you’re told it’s supposed to.
When you’re twirty, your biological clock isn’t ticking loudly — you’re not even sure you’ve put the batteries in yet, it’s not even set because the deadline isn’t on your radar. When you’re twirty, no matter how much you earn, it is never enough. You are being squeezed for money every which way, paying the same amount of rent for a small double bedroom in London as your sister pays for an entire three bedroom house back home and have double the tax outgoings thanks to your student loan; meanwhile your married, house-owning friends are ordering from The White Company and planning an extension. You flick through Tinder like it’s ASOS, swiping right only to ‘save for later’ in case you might want said man (side note, thank fuck ASOS can’t swipe left on you and stop you from matching with your favourite if ill-chosen clothes. Imagine!).
I’m probably painting a picture of a lazy, directionless drifter here, but that’s not what I am. I’m a professional, a senior editor in the small company I work for. Ask me at work how old I feel and I’d say 30, if not older — the only time my age feels accurate is in my job where I know my shit (sorry not sorry, I do) and am confident in what I’m doing. I also have a solid history of experience which I can look back on and say yes, I’ve come far — I have moved up, stage by stage, role by role, and I have reached where I am thanks to my progression up that ladder.
Meanwhile in my personal life, it feels like I’m yet to get my foot on the first rung of adulting (for some people this would be a boyfriend or even a ring, but for me it’s a home of my own, rented or otherwise) and I’m not sure I ever will. Unless something dramatic changes in the housing market or my payslips, I can imagine being in the very same living situation come my 40th birthday. Now there’s a sobering thought.
But what’s a twirty-something girl to do? Sure, this past weekend left me feeling a little lost — if I were coupled up and acting like one of those successful 30-somethings you read about in weekend supplements, I never would have had all that time to myself to behave like an overgrown child. But although I could probably do with fewer fish fingers and more quinoa (it’s an occasional weekend treat, don’t get your foodie police knickers in a twist), I also don’t like the idea of my life changing too much. I love single life. I love not having to report to anyone (though it would be nice if my parents called a little more often, you know, just to check I’m alive). The thought of having kids makes me feel quite sick. And I truly believe everyone could benefit from watching Home and Away (best soap on TV guys, really).
I guess all I want is just to be a bit better at being an official grown up. I reached 30, I hit the milestone and got the badge, so shouldn’t I get some of the perks that come with it? I thought I’d be all sorted by the time I was 30, whatever ‘sorted’ is. But perhaps being a twirty-something is a necessary way for us to enjoy the best of both worlds, i.e. either side of the 30 mark -because life’s too short to grow up too soon, right? Besides, next weekend I’ve got plans, so I’m not too worried. So long as I get a bit of a lay-in…