The Big Three-Oh…

As I write this, I am in my last week of my twenties. Good bye to what has without doubt been the best decade of my life so far. I spent 6 years at Manchester University, became a fully fledged doctor, managed to evade disater as an over-worked and hard partying junior doctor and completed my training as a GP, picking up a couple of extra diplomas along the way. Not bad for a 29 year old I don’t think. Then there’s the blogging speed train taking me through wedding-ville, and currently ending here at Florence Finds which quite neatly celebrates its 6 month anniversary tomorrow. πŸ™‚

Image from Wedding Chicks

My Mum alway says her thirties were her best decade and that seems to be the prevailing opinion… it’s a given I’m likely to be better off and have more career stability, but is it really about confidence, growing into your sense of self? Mum met my Dad, got married and started her family (with me) in her thirties, so it’s not suprising she looks back on that decade as the best one. I on the other hand did much of that already… I met Pete at 21, got our two cats, bought our first home and got married, all by the time I was 27. That sounds unintentionally depressing really, so much already done. When I was a teenager and wasn’t allowed to do things I always remember Mum saying, If you do everything now, what is there left to enjoy? (I think she was secretly talking about sex, but it’s a good life motto!) Strangly though, I don’t feel like I’ve done everything, more like I’ve been laying the foundations. I honestly don’t think I would have had the energy to do everything I have done if I hadn’t had Pete’s support… you know how they say ‘behind every man there’s a good woman’? Well in my case, it’s the other way around and there isn’t a day goes by that I’m not thankful.

Balloons by Luis Montiero

I’m not sure how I feel about being thirty really. The media tells us exactly how we should feel – that sense of dread at getting old, searching for wrinkles and grey hairs, the end of your carefree years and the start of being properly grown up. I dont feel any of that. After years of saying I would always have a big party for my birthday, I now find myself surrounded by friends who have had children, fulfilling the media picture I just painted, less available, less carefree. In some ways it feels like just another birthday, no rite of passage, no great fanfare to welcome me into this fabled new decade. And you all already know I actually can’t even find an appropriate dress for the occasion!

Image from 5 Inch and Up

Of course, my thoughts have turned to the future already; instead of planning things I wanted to do before I’m thirty, I’ve been thinking about my thirtieth year. After a lot of thinking I’ve only really come up with one must-do. I’ve never been to a festival and after years of not getting organised enough or having the time or money I decided this would be the year I would go to Glastonbury, an enthusiasm swiftly dampened by finding it was having a rest year. After a bit of research I’ve opted for Bestival instead in the hope if it being a little more suited to being a grown up. And yes, I will be treating myself to a teepee or something similarly comfortable.

There are other things I want to do… I’m still on a perpetual planning mission to travel and we have more tweaks to make in the house, but I wouldn’t consider any of it monumental. I guess what I’m trying to say is, I’m happy with my lot.

I’m curious though, how being at the same stage or considering the approach of a big birthday affects you? There is always a stifled groan when people mention their impending thirtieth whereas I can’t think of any better excuse to celebrate! What I can’t quite reconcile is if it should be a wild night or elegant relaxed affair, but I don’t feel pressured to make it monumental. I suppose because I don’t feel it’s the last chance for anything, more the beginning. If you have already turned thirty, how did you feel about it? Are there any things you want to do before you are thirty? Or if you’re already there, is there anything you wish you had done?

I’m all (twenty-nine-year-old) ears,


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34 thoughts on “The Big Three-Oh…

  1. I’m only 2 weeks behind you! I’m not that settled in my career and still in our flat which we’re hoping to upgrade to a house next year. But apart from that I’m pretty happy with where I am at 30. I don’t care about the number and would like to do something to mark the occasion but like you, I’m not entirely sure what that will be. Especially now friends are scattered across the country and have babies. I’d love a Saturday afternoon BBQ/bouncy castle extravaganza but don’t think that’ll actually happen!

    I’d also love to travel and maybe live abroad, although I don’t know how feasible that is with hubby’s work so maybe one for the future. There’s plenty of years left yet!!

  2. I am 27, nearly 28, but still go to say ’19!’ when someone asks me how old I am. I used to have a list of what I was going to do before I was 30, but now that list is more fluid and has new things on it… I think, like Rebecca, I’ve been laying the foundations in my twenties.

  3. As a …ahem thirty something, I would say grab it with both hands and go all out on a huge celebration, this is something I never done and hugely regret.
    Im 35 this year and honestly cant believe it, my 30th is a blur now, I cant remember what I done, which is really quiet sad.
    What I wish now is that i hadn’t ruined my 20’s plodding along ( Im now studying for degree’s etc)

    I was like you too Rebecca, all friends had babies, scattered all over the country so a party was out of the question, looking back I would have liked a extravagent holiday!!!

    Im sure what ever you do it will be absolutley fabulous xx
    PS have you found a frock yet??

  4. I’ve very much been there and done that! Sounds like you’re much more reasoned about the whole 30 thing to me. More than I was, I spent an entire year beforehand claiming I was ‘fine’ with it, then had a small meltdown at my 30th birthday party, drank far too much and suffered for days afterwards!

    But then? I got over it. As one of my (older) friends jokingly said at the time ‘it’s 31 not 30 you need to worry about!”. I can assure you (and anyone else who’s turning 30 soon) that being 30 is much like being 29, just a year older ;). I wasn’t at all where I had expected to be in my life at 30, but in the end that was great and exactly where I should have been.

    And my 30’s have been great so far – I did volunteer work abroad, went back-packing around the world (something I would have been FAR too much of a wuss to do in my 20’s) and had a blast. I worked out what I wanted to do, where I wanted to be and I met the wonderful man in my life. And most importantly realised that it doesn’t matter if you haven’t done x amount of things by the time you’re 30, because there’s still a whole life after that too πŸ˜€

  5. Happy Birthday! For next week. I’m a few years ahead of you and when I was approaching 30 I was a little melancholy for the loss of a decade, which when I looked back, was so huge and influential in making me me – Uni, settling into a career, big relationships and equally big break-ups, meeting “the one”, buying a house, seeing the world (or a little bit of it) etc etc. However, it also seemed a bit mad, and I am relishing this new much more laid back decade. If my 20s were about making me, my 30s are definitely just about being me. If that makes sense. And to be honest, I probably got to that point at about 28/29 rather than miraculously as soon as I hit 30, which did ease the way a bit.

    As for a party, well, I have always disliked my own parties, so we went on an amazing blow-out holiday. It was bloomin’ fantastic.

  6. I read your post with a half smile on my face – I’m 32 it really didn’t feel like a big deal passing my 30th birthday. I celebrated it in a low-key way with a meal and a bottle of very fancy bottle of Dom Perignon with my fiance at home (the champagne was a treat from him as he wanted to celebrate my milestone birthday). Getting my engagement ring, the wedding and buying my/our first house, happened all happened after my 30th birthday.

    I really looked forward to hitting my 30s. It was great not to be “young” any more, to have the experience I needed so that people stopped thinking that I wanted too my from my career too early. Age discrimination works at both ends of the spectrum! My 20s were all about building my career path, moving to where I needed to be (six houses/locations in three years – all renting, in the North West and London), meeting my future husband and getting engaged.

    Do I wish I’d done anything else? Not really πŸ™‚ I’ve crammed a lot in (Glastonbury is awesome Rebecca, my sister and I went when we were 18 – the first year of the mud – and saw Radiohead, among others) and I’ve got a long way to go. My husband turns 40 next year and we will do a bit more for that – I’ve already booked a luxury self catering mini break for us – and we talk about our life plans and what we want to do when we retire, so I totally get what you mean about it being a beginning.

    Curious to hear what everyone else thinks about their 30th.

  7. On the eve of my thirtieth birthday people asked me if I was scared of getting old or worried about what I hadn’t done. I thought about it for all of 15 seconds and then wrote about it (here:

    Ask anyone around me and they will tell you that I was SO excited to turn thirty and I loved every second of celebrating it!

    God knows why, but it was a milestone I was looking forward to for ages. Not just the party but the fact that it was a nice “neat” time (I’m so OCD) to get properly “grown up” and settled, move from our flat to a family home, have one last big blow out holiday (for a while), celebrate for one long party year (so many 30th in such a short space of time!) and then settle down and start thinking about a family. It was almost like, oh ok. now it’s ok to start doing “grown up things”… things which I, until this year, felt like I was too young to be thinking about.

    I know it’s only a number, but my OCD needed that number to set the “grown up” plans in motion. I celebrated with two weeks of parties and various celebrations (and I wrote about every last detail!!). It was the best. I had so much fun. I want to do it all over again!

    I can’t wait for 40…. πŸ™‚

  8. I’m almost 27 (I know, a baby) and to be honest, my want-to-do/wish-I-had-done before kicking off my career is do a bit of travelling. Yes I’ve been on holidays and seen some of the world, but not in an adventure kinda way.

    I didn’t take a gap year (parents kicked up an almighty fuss about that idea) and after uni I just wanted to earn money. Six years into my career and I feel that I’m at a place where I can’t exactly jump off and then return at the same level.

    We’re (Mr P and I) are currently searching for our ‘forever’ home but to no avail at the moment, so we’ve got a bit of a back up plan. If we don’t find anything in six months (and when it will have become painful living with the parentals) then we’ll ask our bosses for a bit of a sabbatical – maybe for a couple of months so that we can go off for a while.

    We shall see. I’m currently torn between wanting to find ‘THE’ house and going away!!

    And Rebecca – firstly Happy Birthday in advance, and secondly… you will LOVE going to a festival. Good choice for your first one too! You absolutely HAVE to do Glastonbury next year too – I was there last year, and can honestly say it was one of the best times ever.


  9. Age doesn’t bother me so much and the prospect of turning 30 is fine for me. Although, perhaps you should ask the question in another 4 years and 7 months when I will be turning 30 and see if I still feel the same??

    On saying that, I will be sad to leave my twenties behind. Like you Rebecca, I got married in my twenties, bought my first house with my husband in my twenties, got a promotion to a job that I love and and now moving on to starting up my own business on the side. There’s still just under 5 years left for me to enjoy my twenties…who knows where I will go next but I can safely say, I am content and happy!

    I also agree totally with your comment about “behind every man there’s a good women” My Husband is my support, encouragement and my rock. Without him, I would never be able to claim all of the above!

    Go into your 30’s with a Bang Rebecca, whether that be a big celebration party or a grown-up civilised dinner – whichever you prefer!


  10. I love Gemma’s comment about your 20’s being the making of me and then 30’s being me! πŸ™‚

    I celebrated my 30th last year with a low keyish gathering with friends and family in a bar in London. We had only got engaged a few weeks before so it was a joint engagement party but we made it extra special by H2B and I and some of my friends staying in a hotel so we all had breakfast together the next day – it was lovely!

    I spent the first half of my 20’s building up my career, living with friends in shared houses and going out lots, then the second half i met H2B, took lots of holidays together, bought a house and started my blog. I feel at 30 (about to get married) very satisfied with my lot.

    I do struggle to believe i’m really 30 though as I guess i still feel about 22 (until i meet a 22 year old!) However I have found I do feel more confident and I can build on the experiences i had. I’m more body confident too!

    I’m looking forward to my 30’s being more about our home and building a family. (and hopefully doing a bit more traveling!) I’m excited about being a wife and everything that goes with that!!

    Rebecca – you’ll love being 30 – don’t fear it – embrace it!

    Rachie xo

    PS: Apparently you look the best you will ever look at 32!!

  11. So I turn 30 in Dec and when 2012 started I was like “crapbags, I don’t want to be 30”. When I was younger, 30 seemed like a ‘grown up age’. Now that im 8 months away from it, it doesn’t feel so bad. I don’t feel like im going to be turning 30. I’ve felt around 25-26 for the past few yrs anyway!

    And I’m going to vote for you to have a big blow-out so you can show your dress off! Martin and I both turn 30 in Dec so I reckon we’ll have a soiree of some kind.

    My 20’s were amazing and also had some pretty dire lows, but the last few years have been awesome. As for what I want to do in my 30’s, t’will include travelling, food and shoes!

    I went to a festival for the first time 2 yrs ago. Leeds it was and I loved every single second of it, mud n all!


  12. my 30th was pretty grim, recently divorced, 2 young kids, grinding away at a job I hated trying to keep a roof over our heads, I didn’t see anyone the whole day and I didn’t want to, a lot of challenges over the next few years to say the least.
    my 40th however was one of the best, re-married, very happy and whooping it up in Paris, so getting from one situation to the other made it indeed the best decade (so far) , Im now in my mid 40’s and rather than worrying about getting older I feel less pressure with every year.

    • Thats really great to hear Jae πŸ™‚

      I’m very concious that I’m very lucky, and I know there will be people reading who aren’t feeling positive about the future, so it’s good to hear that there’s light at the end of every tunnel.


  13. Being in the same ‘Turning 30’ boat this year, I’ve had a mixed bag of emotions about it. What is it about reaching a milestone and then evaluating what everyone else has achieved and then disregarding what you YOURSELF has achieved?

    I keep on finding myself thinking, I’m not anywhere near being married (in fact, resolutely single), not being where I thought I would be in my career, and although I own a house, I rent it out and therefore don’t own a ‘home’.

    Now, as I get closer I’m trying to take those things and flip them. I’m a single independent woman who has not found the man that I want to settle down with yet but appreciate those that I’ve met along the way who have honed my sense of ‘this is what I want from a relationship’. I know I’ll never want to settle and believe that forever relationship is out there for me, I’m just on a different life map.

    I’m not where I thought I would be in my career i.e. owning my own business, but is that a bad thing? Or have my priorities and wishes out of life changed? I’ve managed to carve out my own role which suits my skill sets and hopefully, I’m now an asset to my company even if I don’t own it!

    I bought my house at 22… Goodness only knows what kind of home I’d be living in if I’d have had the time and money to decorate it and put my stamp on it. My style is very different now and I’m excited for the time when I can transfer that style to my home once I’m done with travelling, enjoying life with my friends and generally being a girl about town.

    So yes, at the end of this blathering, I guess I may not be where I thought I’d be but I’m happy with where I am and I’m going to hold on to that thought when I’m celebrating my 30th at Ascot races in a few weeks time. The new hat, fabulous dress and shoes will help me keep a hold of that happy thought… oh and a glass of champers! Have a great birthday Bec, it seems that you very much deserve it! xx

  14. So it would seem that I am the actually baby of the commenters so far… I’m 23!
    To me thirty seems a long way off, but 18 seems like yesterday so I bet it will come round before I know it. I really look up to all glamerous, confident ladies in their 30s (and upwards!) and next to them I still feel like an awkward teen.

    Next year I am getting married, plan to buy a house, and the year after I’ll be graduating with my PhD. I’ve achieved a lot with my life so far and am looking forward to what is to come. I’ve always said I would consider children on my 30th if they hadn’t happened beforehand .There is so much I could do before 30!

    I am eager to discover whether confidence in your self/own body really does come with age, and hope that I’ll transition into one of those ladies that the me now looks up to smoothly and with minimal drama.

    Trying not to wish my life away and live for now, but I got ID’d for a bottle of wine on Friday night in Sainsburys and it made me feel VERY young :S


    • Laura, my friend Laura is a year younger than me and also still gets ID-ed. believe me, the older you get the more of a ‘highlight of your day’ kind of experience it becomes!

      I think confidence does come with age, you don’t care as much what anyone else thinks… that might just be me, but tbh, I’m not sure I ever did care! xo

      • I’m still looking forward to not getting ID’ed to by wine as I’ve been checked a couple of times this year…
        (As I mentioned above, I’m 32, and yes, Mr P finds it very amusing.)

  15. I also agree with Gemma R’s comment about your 20’s being the making of you, and hopefully I can look forward to ‘being me’ in my 30’s!
    I also agree with Rebecca’s comment about the support of a husband being so important – I met my husband when I was 17 (he was 19) and he has supported me all through college and then medical school, and then the past 6 years since qualifying!
    I turn 30 in October and if everything goes according to plan we will have been in Australia for 1 month by then, as we have finally decided to take the plunge and move over there! So we will be without family and friends for my 30th (and my husbands 32nd birthday 3 days later!) but at least we will be together, and at the start of a new adventure that we have looked forward to for so long! Career wise I am looking forward to exploring new areas of my work in my 30’s in a new country, and personally we are looking forward to hopefully starting a family and finally being able to afford to buy a house! I guess I’m not really dreading my 30th, but looking forward to new challenges!

  16. Bestival a grown-up festival?? Bahahaa! I would take Bestival over Glastonbury any day – the year off is fate, it was meant to be! You will have the most fun – pure escapism. You won’t think about being 30 once, and you won’t feel grown up either most likely. Get your fancy dress on!

    For what it’s worth I thought my 20s were pretty lame – 30s have ruled so far. I played a gig with Penny & The Sausages for my 30th, followed by a massive house party. It was a brilliant weekend and I didn’t care a fig that I was entering a new decade! 31 has actually been a bit more sobering, but overall I’m happier in my 30s than my 20s. We’re not old yet you know!
    It’s state of mind!


  17. Happy birthday Rebecca!! I turned 30 last year and had been really looking forward to having a big party/celebration with all my family. In the end my husband walked out a month before my birthday and my mum had a big operation the week before so I actually spent my 30th back at my parents’ house helping out…
    Nearly a year later I’m much, much happier than I was and totally believe that my 30’s will be the best decade πŸ˜‰ Having spent my 20’s mainly studying/at work, I’m looking forward to having more time in my 30’s to enjoy life -I now finally live in a city I love (rather than just one I ended up in by accident…) and having more time to travel, meet people and generally have fun! And I’m totally planning the party I never got to have for my 30th, for my 31st instead πŸ˜‰

  18. I didn’t celebrate my 30th at all, but don’t generally celebrate my birthday, so would have been slightly odd to have a big party. (The years I have celebrated have actually not been great so I don’t risk it!)

    It wasn’t particularly stressful, unlike turning 25, but did make me look at what I have achieved, and what is still lacking. And make me think about how to change/or come to terms with what I can’t change.

  19. I’m 34 in a month and mentally, I still feel 17. One day people are going to realise I’m not actually a grown up. It’s all a state of mind, as long as you don’t look too closely in the mirror – handy if you have bad eye sight here.

    My 30th year was taken over by getting married so a second big party was an expense I coped without. I hope I’ll be able to make up for it at 40.

    Despite a few hiccups, I’ve got a feeling my 30’s are going to be the better decade.

    And as for Bestival……one word….Jealous. Go see Stevie and send him my love. I think the line up looks fab xx

  20. I’m so sorry to spoil the perfect number of comments (30) but I have heard about people who have had parties when they turned 33 and a third… I completely forgot to do this but I think it’s a brilliant idea!

  21. I have to say that turning 30 wasn’t a huge deal for me. I had a party and invited 30 of my closest friends and family. With their other halves it ended up being about 50 but it was the best thing I ever did. My then boyfriend took me on a surprise trip to Cornwall (in December!) and we went to Rick Stein’s. Said boyfriend is no longer on the scene but at the grand age of 32 I have never been as confident in what I want out of life. I have achieved a lot in my career but have decided I am happy to stop where I am for a while ( a liberating feeling!) and to top it all off I have a hot date on Saturday night with a 30 year old whippersnapper in a karate kid Tshirt. Have a party! Life is good πŸ™‚

  22. Wishing you a happy big 3-0 and the only advice I have is this, don’t measure your life by age milestones. Each day presents the opportunity to do something amazing. You’ve achieved a lot of fantastic things so far – you need only keep doing you. Have a great one πŸ™‚

  23. Hope you had a great birthday! I joined the 30 club in January this year, and it was nowhere near as painful as I’d expected it would be when I was 25!

    Having said that, I don’t feel I have been as productive with my first 30 years as I could have been… I didn’t finish my degree, I have never been travelling, I don’t own a house and I’m not married. However, I have 2 beautiful daughters, a wonderful man (and a fabulous engagement ring) and some very exciting plans for the future! So hopefully, the next 30 years are going to prove more fruitful from a personal development point of view πŸ™‚

    (A festival attendance is also on my list – I’m just glad I didn’t plan it for this ‘Summer’ of monsoons!) πŸ˜‰

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