In just a few days, on March 11, I’ll celebrate my 30th birthday.
For many people, women especially, turning 30 can be an exciting (and sometimes anxiety-inducing) milestone. Believe me, I’m right there kinda-sorta freaking out just a tad about the big 3-0.
So I decided to turn my anxiety into action.
I turned to my network on Facebook and Twitter to seek out women who’ve been there — women who have turned 30 and were open to honestly sharing their experiences and feelings around this big birthday.
The responses blew me away. These 30 women are wise beyond their 30ish years, and their stories and advice certainly eased my birthday angst and turned it into excitement.
Read on for 30 gems of wisdom about turning 30. According to this inspiring group, the best truly is yet to come.
Describe how you felt leading up to your milestone birthday. By the time I turned 30, I was so ready to turn 30. I was just finishing up almost a decade in insurance sales and management and was starting to look at full-time freelancing, was so over my 20’s (a decade in which I was really just going through the motions of shoulds and trying to figure myself and life out), and just wanted my new future to start already!
What words of wisdom would you tell yourself (or someone else) about turning 30? My 30s have been miles ahead of expectation and even some dreams. I got my first passport at the age of 31 to move to Bali, recovered from a massive motorbike accident and subsequent emergency operations for sepsis, built an agency and traveled the world on my own (with the support of teams and friends and family), discovered what I like and what I don’t…so many things. My #1 piece of advice for comparing 20’s to 30’s is that in your 20’s, you walk into a room and hope that the people will like you. In your 30’s, you start walking into rooms and hoping you will like the people in them.
Describe how you felt leading up to your milestone birthday. I never thought about turning 30 until six months before the milestone! As it got closer, I started to get really excited. Suddenly everything started to click, career, relationships, everything, and this weird and amazing calm settled over me. Weirdly, turning 30 felt like becoming a grown-up, in a really good way.
What words of wisdom would you tell yourself (or someone else) about turning 30? Turning 30 was absolutely the best thing ever and you have so much to look forward to. Your 20s are about figuring things out, making messes and discovering who you are. I feel like, finally, at 30, I’m more confident, excited and embrace my mess. 30 always sounded “old” but it doesn’t feel old when you get here. It feels like there’s SO much to look forward to.
Describe how you felt leading up to your milestone birthday. I was looking forward to it. As I hit my 27/28th birthdays, things were starting to feel right and I had become more comfortable with who I was and what I wanted, so I was looking forward to being out of my 20s. While they were fun, my 20s had a lot of uncertainty and I liked the stability that I had started to reach at 28 and was excited for everything that was in my future. I didn’t see 30 as old, I saw it as starting to hit my stride and couldn’t wait!
What words of wisdom would you tell yourself (or someone else) about turning 30? Your 30s are the best! Even though you were excited to turn 30, things will be even better than you expected. Embrace the wisdom that comes with getting older and say yes to the challenges and don’t be afraid to speak up because you think you’re too young.
Describe how you felt leading up to your milestone birthday. I decided to embrace this year. I didn’t want to do a 30 before 30, since I’m not dead. Instead I have 30 challenges planned for this year. This will be my most exciting year thus far, so I’m stoked.
What words of wisdom would you tell yourself (or someone else) about turning 30? In this day and age, anything goes. It’s okay if you want the American dream, and it’s okay if you don’t. Don’t let society tell you where you should be and how you should be living.
Describe how you felt leading up to your milestone birthday. Initially I was definitely anxious about turning 30, and now that I’m 32, I don’t quite see what the fuss was about. My friends and I started a tradition where we would celebrate each other in a special way leading up to their 30th birthday. We did this by using the 30 days leading up to their birthday. So, we incorporated their friends, family, and coworkers to present the birthday boy/girl with some kind of thoughtful surprise every day for 30 days until their 30th birthday. I was the last one in our group of friends to turn 30, and I had already had enjoyed celebrating all of my friends this way, so it was definitely exciting to be on the receiving end.
What words of wisdom would you tell yourself (or someone else) about turning 30? I never thought that I would say this, but I LOVE being in my 30’s. I don’t miss anything about being in my 20’s. Now that I am 32, I feel much more secure about the person who I currently am, and the person that I want to continue to become. I understand the importance of good, positive people in my life, and I don’t take time or energy to deal with unnecessary bullshit (people or situations).
Describe how you felt leading up to your milestone birthday. I was incredibly anxious for my 30th birthday. Leading up it, I was more upset by chances I missed for following dreams. I had dreams I wanted to accomplish by thirty, and the stereotypes for where someone “should be” started creeping in. I found myself comparing myself to others. I celebrated my 30th birthday by making a list of my top five goals I wanted to accomplish in the next 3-5 years. I felt by making it, I could treat it as a new start for a new adventure.
What words of wisdom would you tell yourself (or someone else) about turning 30? Turning 30 is definitely a mindset. Age is just a number. Remember to look at it as a chance for a fresh start and to ignore the stereotypical metrics of where you’re “supposed to” be. Instead, take a chance, start a new project, or take a deep breath and follow your dreams.
Describe how you felt leading up to your milestone birthday. I was anxious about it because I always had this vision of what 30 looked like all growing up (I mean, I thought it was basically over the hill when I was little) and I was nowhere near the life I thought I would have. I wasn’t the “put together” adult I thought I’d be. I already felt behind in my career and life so turning 30 just was the icing on that self pity cake.
What words of wisdom would you tell yourself (or someone else) about turning 30? I wish I could tell myself that it’s just a number and there’s really no expectation of what it SHOULD look like. It looks like what it looks like. It’s been the BEST so far (I can honestly say that with only 2 years under my belt). Though suddenly a switch didn’t come on that suddenly made me a Real Grownup a switch did seem to flip in terms of what I gave myself time to care about. I cut out a lot of things (and people) that no longer made me happy/made sense in my life and I met my very best friends — a group of women so amazing and supportive that I’m honestly shocked because I never thought I’d find that. I feel like it’s going to be the best decade yet — I much more sure of myself even though things aren’t exactly where I hoped they would be.
Describe how you felt leading up to your milestone birthday. I was definitely excited. It was something about surviving my 20s and walking into 30 that made me feel like I had a new outlook on life. That outlook was pretty much: “I’m me, take it or leave it.”
What words of wisdom would you tell yourself (or someone else) about turning 30? 30s are all about coming into your own. You’ve likely made your mark in your career. Friendships are fewer, but far more meaningful. You know whose crap you’re willing and unwilling to put up with (this is the best part for me). You’ve gotten the hang of this adulthood thing (even though it’s still bananas at times) and you’re just doing YOU! What a time to be alive!
Describe how you felt leading up to your milestone birthday. I was some combination of fearful, anxious and excited. I think I was most hung up on all the things I said I would have done by the age of 30. I swore I would be married, that I would have paid off my student loans and that I would just be more settled in life. None of those things has happened yet! And that’s OK! The years between 20-30 were filled with amazing experiences, so I had to be ok with not being where I thought I would be.
What words of wisdom would you tell yourself (or someone else) about turning 30? It’s really just a number — don’t worry too much about it! You aren’t ever really prepared for the number to change, but it does and you just keep being the amazing human you are. Don’t take it so seriously!
Describe how you felt leading up to your milestone birthday. I was looking forward to turning 30, because I’d just moved and started my first real job after spending my 20s traveling, having fun and trying to figure out what I was supposed to be doing. Attaching the number to my newfound maturity made me feel like a real-life adult for the first time. I’ve felt like an old lady since I was a kid, so I was happy to be an age that most people considered grown up.
What words of wisdom would you tell yourself (or someone else) about turning 30? Everyone says it’s “just a number,” but that’s not true. People expect different things from someone in their 30s versus in their 20s. Most days, being in my 30s is freeing, because as a bonafide grown-up, I can get away with not trying to be cool or whatever and just be my (old, dorky) self. But sometimes I miss my 20s, when it seems like there were fewer expectations and more room to experiment and fail.
Describe how you felt leading up to your milestone birthday. If you had asked me this 10 or even two years ago, I was probably fearful and anxious about this milestone, but in the last year and since turning 30, I’ve surprisingly been more excited and calm about it. I think my prior fear came from my younger self having so many expectations of what my life would look like at 30 and the urgency of obtaining everything I thought I wanted. The peace and calm about turning 30 came after realizing that my life is pretty good (and possibly better) despite being nothing like what I had imagined. I’m blessed to have reached this milestone and proud of everything I’ve accomplished so far.
What words of wisdom would you tell yourself (or someone else) about turning 30? You don’t need to have everything figured out and it’s OK if you’re off track from the timeline you put together. Turning 30 could be a tough love kick-in-the-butt to start going after what you want or the permission to slow down, give yourself grace and appreciate what you have. Thankfully, 30 is a sweet spot of having a greater grasp of who you are and who you want to be, and it’s better than I expected. Though, the urgent decision of whether or not to have kids is a frequent thought. Also, turning 30 (if not earlier) is a great time to tune into philanthropic opportunities by giving back and finding ways to make the world a better place.
Describe how you felt leading up to your milestone birthday. I was excited! With the exception of a handful of high school and college friends I still keep in touch with, all of my friends are a couple years older than me. I’ve watched them enter their 30s with grace, determination, and a strong sense of self. I was ready for my turn.
What words of wisdom would you tell yourself (or someone else) about turning 30? I would tell my past self that internally, it feels mostly the same, but to the outside world there is a certain cache to reaching this milestone. From what I can see, there is a lot of career and personal development that happens during your 30s and it’s an advantage to be part of that demographic now.
Describe how you felt leading up to your milestone birthday. I was very anxious to turn 30. I probably started talking about it 6 months out! I didn’t feel like I had accomplished as much in my life as I had wanted to before I turned 30, both personally (in my relationships and general life) and professionally. I kept comparing myself to my friends and younger relatives and just felt like I was *behind* somehow, even though I have a secure job, and apartment and was in a relationship at the time. At the end of the day, though, I realized I was going to turn 30 whether or not I wanted to so I tried to get go of the anxiety and just enjoy it. That realization came maybe a week or do before my birthday…
What words of wisdom would you tell yourself (or someone else) about turning 30? Don’t get caught up with the number. It’s easy, especially as women, to look around and compare yourself to others and where they are in their lives and feel that you’re lacking somehow (as women, we always find a way to feel that way!), but that will get you nowhere. I’ve found that since I turned 30, which wasn’t even a year ago yet, I’m more confident and secure in where I am in my life. I’m more selective in what I do and who I do it with. I am realizing now that I am not interested in wasting anyone’s time, especially my own. I’ve also come to feel that it is a really amazing time to be a young woman. We’re doing our own thing: having careers, buying our own homes, marrying when we want to (and if we want to), having children when we want to (and if we want to), all independently. We have a long, LONG way to go, but I can’t help but be inspired by what I see happening and be excited for the future.
Describe how you felt leading up to your milestone birthday. 29 was definitely the best year of my adult life. I was excited to turn 30, I didn’t have any apprehensions about it. I’m excited to now be in my 30s. I was ready to move on from my 20s which were pretty terrible, and finally “adult” for real. I’m someone though, that in general, hates her birthday because something awful always happens so I really tried not too think much about it.
What words of wisdom would you tell yourself (or someone else) about turning 30? Don’t let age get to you. Embrace turning one year older. Look forward to starting over. Treat yourself to something. Spend your birthday traveling abroad, preferably by yourself. Be selfish!
Describe how you felt leading up to your milestone birthday. By 30 you should be “successful” in your relationship, career and life. That’s what people say, right? That thought made me freak out! I didn’t want to leave my 20s behind until I actually had to do it. Don’t believe everything you’re told. Age is just a number, seriously. The older you get, the wiser you become. I eventually realized I can look forward to that!
What words of wisdom would you tell yourself (or someone else) about turning 30? It really hasn’t been that long since I turned 30. Two months to be exact. Still, I can tell you it gets better. I’ve decided I am going to invest in myself this year — mind, body and spirit. New decade, new me? For so long I’ve been wanting to get my master’s degree. Did you know the average graduate student is 33? I felt like in the past I’ve limited myself and no longer wanted to feel that way. While there is still time, I encourage you to do something your future self will thank you for.
Describe how you felt leading up to your milestone birthday. I was excited. 2013 was a pretty shit year, losing both my mom and grandmother, and overall, my 20s were a rollercoaster. I was excited for a fresh start, and a new perspective. I figured, entering a new decade was like turning over a new leaf.
What words of wisdom would you tell yourself (or someone else) about turning 30? I would tell myself to keep the excitement, and things do get better. Wisdom does come with age, and the less f***ks you give about what people think of you. Age is just a number, and also, more exciting opportunities arise — I for one have grown immensely in the professional sense since my 30th birthday.
Describe how you felt leading up to your milestone birthday. Like most of the birthdays or birthday parties I’ve had in my 20s, I always come out of the day feeling underwhelmed. Every birthday I’ve spent, I’ve anticipated that something grand would happen either on the day or as I get older. So approaching 30, I was a bit worried that the disappointment would be proportionally bigger. But it wasn’t… It was the opposite. It was a combination of relief, excitement, light-bulb moment, and just a general “don’t-give-a-bleep” anymore kind of feeling. It was funny — I felt like I am officially beyond birthdays. And I no longer need my birthday to feel cool, awesome, hot and special! It was a very interesting shift in my mindset that I was not expecting.
What words of wisdom would you tell yourself (or someone else) about turning 30? If I could go back, I would tell my 20-something self to relax, have as much fun as possible, never stop learning, and enjoy the ride. But the learning part is the most important because that’s what constitutes the foundation of my comfort, security and maturity now in my 30’s. And because I’ve learned to never stop learning, and always be conscious of my growth (professionally, mentally, personally, etc), I am looking forward to my 40’s, 50’s, 60’s and beyond. Now, I am a firm believer that maturity and wisdom only expand with age. And with more wisdom and maturity, we will only learn to appreciate life more, and live more.
Describe how you felt leading up to your milestone birthday. I was actually very excited and ready for it. I felt like 30 was just an age where I felt I should be respected more and I was ready to put my 20s to bed. I wanted to welcome in the new decade with my head held high.
What words of wisdom would you tell yourself (or someone else) about turning 30? Each year holds its own challenges and rewards, but it’s how we handle all of it with grace that shows our age. If we invite in a sense of excitement, everything will hold excitement and on the other end, if we are nervous or fearful of a year, we paint it in that light. It’s all what we cultivate that we reap!
Describe how you felt leading up to your milestone birthday. I didn’t really have any negative feelings, though I know a lot of people do. I’m not a big birthday person, maybe because my brother’s is the day before mine and we always shared them. And I had just bought my condo a few months before and was still focused on getting that put together. But I was proud of myself. Even though I wasn’t married with kids like I thought when I was growing up (30 meant I’d be an adult, after all), I had still accomplished a lot.
What words of wisdom would you tell yourself (or someone else) about turning 30? It’s just another year! You don’t know how long you’re here, so focusing on a certain age is a waste of energy. Maybe you’re not where you thought you’d be 10 years ago, but that’s ok. Plans changed. People change. You’re not the same person you were when you turned 20 and you won’t be the same person you are now when you turn 40. And that’s good. Life is about growth.
Describe how you felt leading up to your milestone birthday. I was super fearful of turning 30. To me, 30 meant I was really an adult now and that I should have my life figured out. I was still single at that point, so I put a lot of pressure on myself to find a partner and settle down. I also put a lot of pressure on myself to figure out my career path. I knew I didn’t want to continue on in the career I was in, but I wasn’t sure how to change.
What words of wisdom would you tell yourself (or someone else) about turning 30? Looking back, I think I took 30 way too seriously. I was so anxious about turning 30 because I thought it meant I had to be a ‘real’ adult now, whatever that means. I can honestly say that the act of turning 30 catapulted me into pursuing the life I’ve always wanted and living on my terms instead of the terms that were prescribed for me by family, friends, and society. So, I really think your 30s are great because you start to grow more into your individuality and become comfortable with who you are. At least that’s my experience.
Describe how you felt leading up to your milestone birthday. I was pretty excited about turning 30. I feel like there was a lot of pressure to make my 20s “the best years of my life”– especially as a millennial in the early years of Instagram — and I was looking forward to living my life and doing my thing in my 30s. I also tend to be the youngest member of each of my social circles, so perhaps there was also a desire to join those folks on the other side of 30.
What words of wisdom would you tell yourself (or someone else) about turning 30? Looking back now, I would say that 30 is a mixed bag — just like anything else! As a human living in community with other humans, there will always be expectations and standards from others. I’ve found after 30, however, that some of these expectations I can now dismiss out of hand, and that is a great feeling! And while I definitely don’t believe that anyone need reach a certain age to be taken seriously, it does feel a little true within myself — I find I believe in myself a little more each day.
Describe how you felt leading up to your milestone birthday. I was orchestrating a huge street festival that week, so I had that as a pretty big distraction. I was really excited because I knew I would have an amazing weekend with people I loved. I had about 20 of my friends stay/camp out at my family’s beach house on the water. We kayaked, boated, swam, ate lobster, danced and drank many many things. It was amazing.
What words of wisdom would you tell yourself (or someone else) about turning 30? Here’s the bottom line, ladies, as someone who has experienced serious health issues, I can’t emphasize enough that the alternative to getting older is NOT a good one! my advice is always to celebrate the day in some way, it doesn’t have to be an extravaganza. Don’t put pressure on yourself. Above all, always take good care of your skin.
Describe how you felt leading up to your milestone birthday. Mostly excited! My twenties were a time of confusion and trying to find my place in this crazy world, and I entered 30 with more confidence about who I am and what I want. And I really believe that age is just a number and timelines don’t matter. I thought I would be married with kids by now, but I’m not anywhere close to either of those things and I’m not stressed about it. Our lives unfold the way they are meant to and, for me, this meant turning 30 as a single woman (surrounded by the most supportive and loving group of girlfriends I could have ever asked for).
What words of wisdom would you tell yourself (or someone else) about turning 30? Honestly, I didn’t have any trepidation about turning 30 because all of my friends in their thirties kept telling me how wonderful this decade has been to them. I believe that the twenties are a period of self-discovery and figuring out who you are, which can be confusing and messy and frustrating (kinda like emotional growing pains). The thirties are about settling into yourself and appreciating who you are and how you got here, which is comfortable and fun and exciting. That’s not to say that the thirties are just one joy ride after another — it’s life, after all, and life can be brutal — but it is to say that you can endure those bumps in the road with more poise and grace.
Describe how you felt leading up to your milestone birthday. I definitely felt like 30 was a milestone, but I wasn’t fearful or anxious about it. I felt like this was my time to embrace being a healthy, happy adult. I also felt more liberated than I ever had in my 20s because I finally had some more money, more control over my time and more of a vision of how I wanted my life to be. Being more clear about who I was and what I wanted allowed me to only focused on the things I truly wanted and needed in my life. That felt amazing!
What words of wisdom would you tell yourself (or someone else) about turning 30? 30 is the new 20, 40 is the new 30, 50 is the new 40…you get the point! I truly believe that age is just a number and that it’s more about how you feel, both physically and emotionally. I have experienced my share of sickness, depression and anxiety, but I finally feel, in my old age (LOL), that I actually understand it all so much better. I can now more accurately point to what I need to be happy and fulfilled, and therefore can communicate that to my friends, family and colleagues so they can help me be the best version of myself. That comes from years of being alive, of living through all kinds of experiences (both good and bad), and taking my mental and physical help seriously. If anything, aging has taught me never to take any of that for granted! I can’t be a good friend or colleague if I can’t take care of myself. Making it to (and through) 30 taught me that.
Describe how you felt leading up to your milestone birthday. My 30th birthday was all about fun. Actually, that whole year was all about fun. I enjoyed being 30 and did not have any indifference about it. Towards turning 31 is when the light bulb went off that I must get my ish together.
What words of wisdom would you tell yourself (or someone else) about turning 30? Each year in life I set a new goal and achieve it. Some things are out of my control. I thought by now I would be married with children. Now I’m just waiting on God and when he will allow things to happen
Describe how you felt leading up to your milestone birthday. Honestly, I thought I would feel more anxious about it. I always thought by 30 I would have it all figured out and my life would be closer to what my parents and grandparents had, you know the kids, the forever house and all that. The reality is not quite that but I’m OK with it, I think our generation has chosen to have a little more freedom in life before they settle down into all that. I’m going to spen my 30s building my dream life and I’m totally excited for that.
What words of wisdom would you tell yourself (or someone else) about turning 30? Looking back I have a lot advice for my 20s, but looking ahead I think there is a lot to look forward to. I feel so much more confident in myself, and my abilities. I know more about how the world actually works and I think that will make my 30s a lot more enjoyable. I’m really excited to see how the next decade unfolds.
Describe how you felt leading up to your milestone birthday. To be honest, the number didn’t scare me as much as what the new decade meant. Finding a job/career path that would make me happy, settling into adulthood and one day getting married all without my mom here. She passed away from breast cancer in 2010. 30 is when the bond of mother/daughter grows into a deep friendship and knowing she wasn’t there for me to lean on, reach out to, and so forth…that terrified me.
What words of wisdom would you tell yourself (or someone else) about turning 30? 30 is just a number. Rather then focusing on that number focus on yourself. Live it to the fullest and make every moment count. 30 has been much better then I expected both personally and professionally.
Describe how you felt leading up to your milestone birthday. I switched careers a couple of years ago and thought I’d be more settled into work by the time I turned 30, so I hit the milestone feeling incomplete. In addition to work I was preoccupied with preparing for my first baby. I think I made up for it this year though, hitting 31 full on with my customary birthday resolutions and celebratory drinks, fully owning the life promotion
What words of wisdom would you tell yourself (or someone else) about turning 30? For the past six years I’ve been setting yearly goals on my birthday. I take the opportunity to reflect on the past year and challenge myself for the next. The year I turned 30 I pseudo-checked out to concentrate on the whole motherhood thing while keeping my writing career afloat. In my 20s I would’ve felt guilty for “slacking,” in my 30s I know work and play need to balance each other for a better life. Your 20s are for doing what you think is expected of you, your 30s are for confidently doing you. Thirty-somethings are in an ideal place in life that balances enthusiasm and wisdom– we’re young enough to still dream but old enough to be practical.
What words of wisdom would you tell yourself (or someone else) about turning 30? I think 30 is what you make of it. If you look forward to it as a point in life where you can celebrate where you are and how much further you have yet to go, you’ll walk into the next year with confidence and a vision for the future. If you look at it as if you left your potential and possibility behind you in your twenties, you’ll find it hard to walk into your 30s with joy.
Thank you again to the 30 inspiring women who opened up to share their raw and honest thoughts on turning 30. Your wisdom will continue to inspire!
Are you 30? Approaching your 30th birthday? I want to hear from you! Share your opinions and experiences in the comments below.
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