Throughout high school and college, birthdays tend to be a big deal. They are either milestones or rites of passage. At sixteen, you get your license. At eighteen, you can buy cigarettes (in most states) and apply to vote. At twenty-one, you can legally start drinking alcohol. Somewhere in there you move out on your own, attend college or start your career. Then you hit twenty-five and you can get rental cars and your insurance prices decrease. Then you turn thirty: the “Big Three-Oh.”
I rang in my 30th birthday like most boring people in their 30’s do: at home with my husband, daughters and an ice cream cake. There were no fancy balloons, no painting the town or drinking until the cows come home. No wild adventures. Not even any sex. It was just an ordinary day, but with a cake. And gifts when you come to this age include Starbucks gift cards or homemade pictures from tiny humans.
Honestly, though, isn’t that what adulthood is? Giant coffees, mundane Mondays, and splurging on a new king size bed? I suppose there are still benefits, they just look different than they did when we were sixteen and holding the keys to our ’93 Pontiac Bonneville ready to take on the world one tank of gas at a time. Here’s what I think I have to look forward to in my 30’s:
Finally being seen as an adult to my co-workers and the rest of the world.
I spent most of my twenties being reminded how young I still was, how I was “still learning,” and how someday I’d get the hang of things. There are now several people who I work with that are younger than me, so I don’t feel like fresh meat anymore and it’s kind of liberating. I feel that I am seen more as a peer than a newbie. I also feel like I have less people coming up to me at gas stations or retail stores trying to give me life advice, but that might be because I’m distracted chasing after two kids under five.
Seeing things from my childhood make a comeback and referred to as “retro.”
My students and I enjoy talking about Pokemon Go and I’ve had more than one Koosh ball recently show up in my room. I also enjoy when I’m playing music from my middle school years and my students enjoy it. It’s cool to be a ‘90s child! My husband and daughters are enjoying streaming reboots of shows like My Little Pony and Strawberry Shortcake on Netflix, and a coworker of mine was thrilled when they released a new Power Rangers movie. They say that fads always make a comeback; I’m thrilled I get to enjoy my 30s with the throwback to my childhood mixed into it.
Having people come to me for sage advice because I’ve “been there.”
It’s interesting to move from the position of always asking for advice to having friends, family, and coworkers come to you seeking advice. Now that I have survived college, become established in my career, gone through changing employers, purchased cars and a home, experienced childbirth, and paid down some debt I can be seen as “experienced in life.” I am compassionate and always desire to help others, so this new perk of being seen as knowledgeable is quite satisfying to my desire to help and inspire others.
Celebrating new milestones with my friends.
It’s not squealing over first kisses or passing that horrid statistics class with the grumpy professor anymore, but there are some great milestones to experience and celebrate with your besties once you reach the prime of adulthood. There are weddings, housewarming parties, baby showers, promotions, and more. There are also some interesting small victories like finally getting your child to use a toilet or inviting everyone over for movie night because you installed in-wall surround sound. It’s all worthy of a drink and some good times!
Having the financial stability to finally get furniture that matches.
We all experienced that first apartment in our 20s where we got whatever furniture we could snag for free or afford from Goodwill. Now, we have finally reached that point where we are over it. My newest addition? A king size bed and nightstands that match each other and the bed frame. It only took me ten years to get there, but my house is finally starting to look less like I picked it all up from yard sales and more like a house that I’ve invested myself into making home.
My friend recently laughed at me when I mentioned struggling with talking to adults and said, “Megan, you do realize you are an adult, right?” I think that in my twenties I still felt like a child and did not quite see myself as “having my shit together.” Things are just starting to look more organized instead of complete chaos, so I suppose I’m finally well on my way to being an actual adult. Some people want to avoid leaving their twenties, but I’m actually quite excited about what my 30’s have in store. Age is only a number, it doesn’t define me.
Featured image by Hildegunn Taipale