Ain’t no shame in being a 30-year-old who loves dystopian YA fiction. I mean, have you read any dystopian YA fiction lately? It’s so good!
I turned 30 a few months ago, and let’s just say I didn’t take it well.
More specifically, I rang in my 30th year crying in the bathroom about how I could never become a climatologist. I had never realized I wanted to be a climatologist before that moment, but suddenly I felt like I had aged out of the profession, and it really freaked me out. Looking back, a lot of my angst about turning 30 had to do with all the expectations that surround this milestone birthday. Some of the expectations are good (“You’ll be so much more confident and sure of yourself in your 30s”) and some are bad (“If you’re not married by 30, you’re screwed”), but the combined weight of all these expectations can feel overwhelming.
In reality, I’m sure my 30s will be a time of great personal growth and discovery, but when it comes down to it, being 30 isn’t all that different from 29. Here are 30 common expectations about being 30 that we should retire from popular belief, because guess what? They’re not true.
1. If you’re not married, you’re doomed. This is such a load of BS. Relationship timelines are complicated and unpredictable and unique to each of us. There’s no age that determines your romantic future. Women don’t have an expiration date.
2. You will have a definitive answer to the question, “Do you want kids?” It would be nice if this one were true, especially since turning 30 means you will be asked this question multiple times a day, and get frequent updates from strangers on the viability of your eggs (how lovely).
3. You aren’t allowed to wear certain things. Good news: No one’s going to arrest you for wearing a miniskirt or a romper post-30. Wear whatever you want to wear. You look amazing.
4. You’ll have your dream job. Maybe all the hard work from your 20s has paid off and you finally have your dream job. Maybe you got your dream job and realized it wasn’t so dreamy. Maybe you’re working part-time at a falafel food truck trying to figure things out. Any and all of these professional scenarios are totally normal and totally OK, even at (gasp!) 30.
5. You’re locked into whatever career you’re in now. Is it hard to change careers at 30? Yes, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible or even inadvisable. If you’re not happy with the professional path you’ve chosen, empower yourself to choose a different one.
6. You’ll have gotten all your adventures out of your system. You probably will feel more settled in yourself and your lifestyle than you did in your 20s, which is awesome, but by no means do you have to retire your spontaneous, adventurous side when you turn 30. So many adventures are just beginning.
7. Your family relationships will be peachy-keen. Oh, how I wish turning 30 was a magical key that unlocked a lifetime of easy, conflict-free family dynamics, but alas, it is not.
8. You’ll adopt a subdued makeup palette. Every beauty magazine breaks down makeup looks by age, and the transition from the 20s to 30s is always particularly harsh. Fun colors and carefree skincare give way to subdued neutrals and a militant anti-wrinkle regimen. Ugh. Keep rocking that teal eyeliner if you want, girl.
9. You’ll adopt a subdued palette for everything. It’s not just makeup: These days, people past 30 are expected to become subdued minimalists in everything from their sparse, modern homes to their neutral-colored capsule wardrobe. If you’re into that aesthetic, good for you, but not all 30-year-olds are super into beige.
10. You’ll be less attractive than you were in your 20s. People always yearn for their younger physical selves (“Remember when I didn’t have wrinkles or cellulite? Those were the days!”) but based on an informal study of all my over-30 friends and Kerry Washington, who is 38, you only get more gorgeous in your 30s. Own it.
11. You will suddenly enjoy all the “grown-up” foods that have always grossed you out. Unfortunately, turning 30 doesn’t suddenly make chicken liver pate appetizing.
12. You won’t still feel crazy sometimes. Hate to break it to you, but emotional breakdowns and moments of insanity don’t end at 29. But hopefully you’ll learn to be kinder to yourself when they do happen.
13. Your friend group is set for life. Your social life will be less turbulent than the constantly shifting social dynamics of your 20s, for sure, but friends still come and go. Chances are you still haven’t met some of the best friends you’ll have in your life. How exciting is that?
14. You’ll make peace with how you look. Your 30s are a time of self-acceptance, so chances are you will come to a kinder, more loving relationship with your appearance and body image, but you’ll probably still struggle with certain things into your 30s and beyond. It’s a process.
15. You won’t need your mom anymore. In reality, she’s still the first one you’re calling for advice.
16. You’ll have mature taste in books. Ain’t no shame in being a 30-year-old who loves dystopian YA fiction. I mean, have you read any dystopian YA fiction lately? It’s so good!
17. You will gain a ton of weight. It’s true that your metabolism slows down, but many people I know actually get in the best shape of their lives at 30 or later.
18. All the emotional issues you’ve been ignoring will go away. Those nagging emotional issues you never dealt with that you assumed would fade away as you got older? Unfortunately, they tend to get worse the longer you avoid them.
19. You’ll have way more money than you had in your 20s. Totally depends on career choices you’ve made and how your spending habits have evolved (or not). The truth is, you might be more financially stable in your 30s, you might not be. Nothing about money is a given.
20. You’ll have the best sex of your life. Listen, this may be true for you, and if so, more power to you! But it depends on so many factors: your relationship status, who you’re sleeping with, medications you’re taking, how you’re feeling about yourself/your body, etc. Sex in your 30s might be mind-blowing. It might be hit and miss. It might be nonexistent.
21. You won’t get zits anymore. God, how I wish this one were true.
22. You’ll feel comfortable in social situations. Many people do find greater self-acceptance and confidence in their 30s, which is awesome, but it doesn’t happen overnight, and it doesn’t mean you won’t still feel awkward as hell at fancy dinner parties.
23. You’ll have a home worthy of a Domino magazine spread. If you made your living space a priority (both financially and in the amount of time and energy you put into it), then this might be true. But you also might have decided to spend your money on travel instead of home decor, or you might love your non-glamorous tiny apartment, or you might have decided to give up said apartment and live in your brother’s basement and pursue your art career.
24. You won’t make dumb romantic choices anymore. Sure, you have more wisdom and perspective now, but that doesn’t mean you always use it.
25. You’ll have finally found something to talk about with your boyfriend’s dad. Years of awkward silences, years scraping the bottom of the barrel for topics, and you’ve still got nothin’.
26. You’ll know how to spell “receive” correctly on the first try. Is it I before E? Or wait? E before I? DAMNIT.
27. You’ll be more organized. Proof: I turned 30, and my inbox still has 11,000 unread emails in it.
28. You won’t be as close with your friends. Friendships in your 20s are usually codependently close. Compared to that closeness, friendships in your 30s can seem downright distant, but they’re actually close in a different way: It’s a deeper closeness. A more lasting, secure closeness.
29. You can’t start new hobbies or learn new skills. Contrary to popular belief, a 30-year-old dog can absolutely learn new tricks, whether those tricks are learning Italian, starting a garden, or taking up weaving.
30. You’ll stop taking selfies. Maybe by 40. But probably not.