In 2009 alone, 4.2 million Americans turned 30. And while some of the latest additions to the fourth decade of living may not be happy to be there, others are diving into their 30s with optimism. When I turned 30, I threw a party at a bar that no longer exists on Sunset Blvd. in Hollywood. Was I any wiser the next morning? No, but almost a decade later I can look back as a serene auntie. Okay, not really, but check out what some of our comrades had to say about why it’s great to turn 30.
“Everyone wants to be 30.” Journalist Gail Sheehy calls 30 “The Golden Age.” As CBS reports, Sheehy asserts “Everybody wants to be 30. 50-year-olds say 50 is the new 30. 40-year-olds are saying 40 is the new 30. And interestingly when I interview people in the mid-40s, in their 50s and ask, how do you feel inside? They almost always say 30.”
Your 20s are over. In your 20s, you’re young, you’re healthy, and you’ve got a skin tone that can’t be beat. But it’s also a time for actions that may have you smacking your forehead with a “what was I thinking?” for years. Which is why turning 30 can be a great time to put that all behind you (under lock and key, buried under a moonless night) and look forward to a decade of smarter choices.
I asked Marshall Herskovitz, cultural god of the thirtysomething decade, his opinion on turning 30. Marshall is co-creator and executive producer of the iconic TV series Thirtysomething. As Marshall told me, “Turning 30 serves one good function only, and that’s getting you out of your crappy twenties, a decade in which you didn’t get nearly the respect, success, sex, or money you thought you were supposed to…”
Been there, done that. Fashion changes for some in their 30s. No, we’re not saying skip the latest looks because you’re too aged to pull off jeggings. But some feel that fashion in your 30s is more about knowing who you are and what you want. As 39-year-old Chicago banker Amy Hoffman told me, “I thought one of the liberating things about turning 30 was you no longer felt the need to follow every fashion trend. There’s more I think I’ll sit this one out or better yet, I already did that in the 80s.”
It’s a reality check. Aysia Wright, co-founder Project Green Search and aged 36, found herself asking at 30: “What am I doing with my life? Am I being true to myself?” Because so many people hold up the age as a marker, it’s a positive time when people can take a moment to check in and get oriented in the right direction.
It’s a good time for mommies. Andrea Schmieg is 38-year-old physician in Virginia and a mother of three. When I asked her the best reason to turn 30, she shared simply: “kids.” We sure don’t advocate panicking over a biological clock because you’re three decades in. But it is nice to note that since you’re often self-assured in your 30s, it makes parenthood all the more powerful.
Milestones, schmilestones. By the age of 30, you see for the first time how hard life can be for people who feel they aren’t hitting their milestones. It doesn’t matter if you’re settling down or not, having babies or not, or hitting your career goals or not. It just matters that you are on the right path. The right destination really is all about how you get there. I know I sound like I’m in a serene, meditation pose while writing this, but it is true. (I wish I could be that limber.)
Your most common way to die is by accident. You’re as healthy as you’re ever going to be at age 30. So drink (moderately) to good health!
Your career goals may be firmly set. Via 11points.com, “the average person has had 7.5 jobs by 30, and you’ll have 2.4 more by age 35.” Okay, so that’s a lot of jobs. I had two jobs by the time I was 30. Both of them involved a variation of what I am now — a full-time writer. By the age of 30, you are most likely going to have a good idea of what you want in terms of a career. And odds are that you are heading in the right direction.
Getting carded becomes fun. Age isn’t supposed to matter, right? And we’re not supposed to care about fine lines, wrinkles, and the odd ache and pain creeping up, right? Well, some of us do. So if our day is just a little brighter because someone refused to sell us a bottle of supermarket red wine, then so be it. Let the cardings continue!
It really does keep getting better. Sometimes, it seems that we can get hit with one huge emotional life event after another. And for many, this can happen right around 30. Grandparents pass away, childhood homes are sold, and relationships can end in spectacularly bad ways. (As may be the problems when you are healthy and operate of your own free will.) But then you settle into life with a little more experience under your belt and a boatload of perspective. And what does that mean? A smoother road into your 40s and beyond.