I absolutely loved turning 30. I had a very slight wobble which lasted a few days a couple of months prior and from then on in I loved every bit of it. So why am I finding 31 so much more difficult? It’s just one more year and nothing has really changed. Well, that’s exactly it – nothing has really changed.
How many years will go by where Not Much Of Note really happens? How old will I be before something does? Sure, I’ve had some great times over the last year, and I’ve felt the most me I’ve ever felt. For the most part, I’ve been really happy. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that all those big life things that we (perhaps stupidly) measure ourselves by aren’t happening for me right now. I don’t own a house, I’m still not doing something I love for my career and I’m still single. In fairness, I’m not particularly fussed by the former: if I see fifteen grand in the bank (lol as if), I see South America and a campervan across Canada, not a mortgage application, but it is one more thing you end up going “oh I don’t have that either.” I know comparing yourself to others is The Worst, how bad it is for your well being and how entirely pointless it is, but as the years pass – as one year ends and a new one dawns, or as another candle is added to my birthday cake – it’s hard not to.
I’m hyper aware that my friends don’t have the free time they once did and that will continue to decrease. I, too, am guilty of booking weekends up well in advance – although admittedly many of them are dedicated to hen dos and weddings and birthdays. I can regularly go two months without seeing my best friend because we have such busy lives. And that’s great to a point – I have a full life and I have a lot of fun. The hard part is when it comes to the boring, domestic, quiet weekends. Being able to pop to the pub for a roast and a bottle of wine for a few hours without planning it six weeks in advance. Honestly, it can feel really lonely sometimes.
My friends will start having babies soon, I imagine, and I’m so happy for all of them and their happiness. That should go without saying, but to clarify – I am thrilled for them, embarking on these things they’ve always wanted. But it will be difficult at times too. When your friends start settling down and starting families, your life shifts too, even though you didn’t change anything. It’s this weird knock on effect. It can be especially painful when you want that too (even if not right now) but don’t know if or when it will. You can’t choose when you meet the right person and by all means, I could do it alone, but honestly I don’t really want to. I’ve done everything by myself for most of my life and it feels like time to share now.
Maybe there are things my happily married, house owning, career storming friends envy about my life, I don’t know. I’ve been on a few good holidays. I don’t have to answer to anyone else and my sole responsibility is to myself and my friendships. I don’t have to share the champagne I got for my birthday. That’s a plus.
This feeling of loneliness creeping in happens every so often. I’m aware it’s had a negative effect on my mental health already this year. I get it all out, maybe have a cry, vent to a few friends and then I pick myself up again. It’s a tiring cycle but what else is there to do? And really, I have it pretty good. I say to myself – okay, so I don’t have X and X, but what do I have? What have I achieved that isn’t on that big tick box list society shoves in your face constantly? I am lucky to call some of the most interesting, kind and funny people I’ve ever met my friends. I have poured myself into every nook of my close female friendships this year. I have learnt to listen better, I hope, to be a better friend. I have recognised when my mental health was getting really bad and quickly did everything textbook to fix it, which is very hard to do when you are in a dark place. I have invested more of my time into things I really love, and learning more about them. I have taught myself about SEO and written more regularly. I have learnt what it means to be more vulnerable, that it’s not a negative thing. I have flown in business class! That’s pretty cool. I have been to gigs and shows that ran through me in that glorious way that only music and art that really speaks to you can.
So, no, life may not be perfect. Those big life milestones are still a way off for me. 31 may look much the same as 30 did, but 30 was pretty damn good. There are things I want, things I yearn for, things that are missing. It’s not perfect, but look at what I do have. I have some of the greatest friends a girl could ask for, who enrich my life in a way I never really expected. My heart is so full of love for them. I have music in my ears that makes me dance on the tube and down the street on my commute. I have a brain that sparks ideas, a mouth that spouts words that make people laugh, legs that allow me the euphoria of a good run. It’s not perfect, but it’s a good life.
P.S. I wrote this, and then I went home and had a big cry. Then I went for a run and listened to ABBA. It’s a good life, but sometimes you need to get it all out. And that’s okay too.