Why My Life Really Began At Thirty

I started The Thirty Diaries a few months before I turned 30. So now feels like a good enough time to do the mid-way check. I’m six months away from my 35th birthday. But I’ve always been a rusher, a ‘little-ahead-of-myself’er. I was even born a week early.

So, the thirties. They have been way better than the twenties, really. When I was younger, I used to think that people who said things like ‘Life begins at 30’ were just being defensive and trying to cover up their loserliness. But now that I’m on that side of ‘loserliness’, I can see why this is true. I can even explain it.

I didn’t even realise what immense pressure I was under, in my twenties. Some of it self-imposed, a whole lot of it applied by family, friends, peer groups and society at large. It’s a wonder I didn’t crumble. I probably only made it through because I was so young. A freshly minted body and a mind not yet worn down with experience & disappointment. Has the pressure gone away post 30?

Well, some of it has. The blinding pressure to get married and fit into easily explained social structures has eased up. Truthfully, I believe that it’s because the enforcers of that kind of pressure, have either given up on me or (in a few cases), reluctantly accepted that I don’t fit them. It’s amazing how much more breathing room there is, when you’re not being forced into constricting relationship labels/personality types.

There is some learning to deal with the pressure that has occurred too. I’m not zen enough to completely unaffected by other people’s opinions. But these don’t stop me as often or as much as they used to. This is true of everything from the clothes I wear, the beliefs I hold, the ideas I espouse, the people I associate with and the career choices I make. I’m learning to not react with anger or defensiveness towards people who disagree. Even to people who are mean, unkind, bullying or cruel about it. You won’t believe what a source of stress angry reactions are, until you learn to react in other ways or not at all.

These are two of the biggest things about crossing 30 and I find just with these, my life is so much happier, cleaner, brighter and more promising. I’ve crossed a number of milestones without actively chasing them. I’ve lived them without over thinking them (does that make sense?). Let’s see. There’s the corporate career that I quit. A fanciful dream that I chased. An unlikely professional path I followed. An impossible relationship that I got into. An unexpected commitment that I made, saw ending and survived. A death in the family (well, that’s not new). My first fracture. The niggling start of health problems, which if not addressed immediately, may become my lifestyle and my identity in my later years.

And I am fine. I feel okay. I’ve often felt dejected (especially through 2013), heartbroken, depressed and frustrated. But I don’t feel that panicky how-am-I-going-to-get-through-this-I-cant-see-beyond-this feeling as much now. I’m sure there is a lot more to come that will stop me dead in my tracks, that will leave me overwhelmed and gasping for breath. The difference is, now I know that these things will happen. And it’s okay.

I know more about myself now. I can’t claim to know life or love or death entirely but I feel a little better equipped to handle them. And I’m still young enough, fit enough and able enough to pursue my dreams, to hope for bigger things. How can that be anything but a promising place to be?

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