INTRODUCING 20-Nothings, the book & 30-Nothings, the blog

August 21, 2013

Things a 30-year-old Says While Watching the VMA’s

August 21, 2013

The First, 30-Nothings Post: What It Feels Like To Turn 30

August 21, 2013
empty image
empty image

People warned me about the actual 30th birthday day. They said, “it’s weirder than you think,” and, “even if you’re happy, you’re sort of also sad,” and, “I recommend drinking at least one cocktail with each meal during the day.”

I took their warnings seriously, but I didn’t think I’d feel that way. I had a packed day planned, my new hair cut was finally settling in, and that very night I was flying home to the east coast for two weeks of family fun.

So yes, I was cocky about turning 30. I thought I was above it all. I was all, “I feel great!” and, “I’m so fortunate!” and, “I’m exactly where I want to be!” I even threw my secret, special birthday routine (hint: it involved $29.99 and clothes made for children) out the window and wore something old for the day. “Superstitions be damned!” I thought, I’m a GD adult!

Turns out turning 30 is a little weirder than you think, and even though I was really happy, I was also sort of sad, and it did in fact help to consume one alcoholic beverage (or bottle…) per meal. As I said to Michael when he called to wish me a happy and hopefully sane day, “I can’t help but feel like a door is closed now.”

“Yeah, that’s because it is,” he said. And he was right.

It’s not that there are things I desperately wish I’d done in my 20s. It’s not that I’m afraid of what I now have to do because I’m 30. I actually feel like I have license to do more as a 30-something than I did as a 20-something, creatively speaking at least.

But this major, life-changing, incredibly formative, really fun era of my existence is over. Completely and totally over. I am no longer, “in my 20’s” I can’t use it as an excuse. I can’t use it as a bragging point. It is no longer mine. But I think the thing that makes the very day you turn 30 so strange is that the next phase doesn’t feel like yours either. I didn’t instantly feel like a 30-something – whatever that feels like. So there was this sense of floating in some weird space between what I was or who I identified as, and what I’m going to be now. Does that make sense to those of you who’ve been through those 24 hours?

I spent my 30th birthday doing everything I wanted to do. I took myself to a hotel’s rooftop pool bar where they let you lay out even if you’re not a hotel guest. I have lunch at The Ivy with someone who has known me since the day I was born (and middle-named after her!). I got my make-up done (because why the hell not?). I took myself to see an awesome documentary called 20 Feet From Stardom. It’s about the most famous back-up singers of our time, and it is incredible. And then I ate “all you can eat” mussels (my favorite food) with R on the patio at Meet Me In Paris

It was perfect, but I was still a little sad, and now that I’ve been through it, I think that’s a good thing. Change is hard no matter what transition you’re making. I think my sadness was a bittersweet sadness – like leaving college because it was so amazing or moving away from a childhood home that you loved. You can’t go back, and that’s a tough reality to deal with.

But the very next day you realize nothing has really changed, and if you’re me, you’re super glad you didn’t get that list minute nose ring in an effort to do something major on your 30th birthday!


  1. I’m guessing you will feel sort of like this with each decade marker: 40, 50, 60, and so on. I know that I do. In a couple of years it will be the Big Seven-Oh for me; several years ago my husband felt that way at the Big Eight-Oh. Today was his eighty-sixth, so he is more-or-less within striking distance of the Big Nine-Oh. Tonight we went out for margaritas and a delicious Mexican meal. I told him that I fully expect him to make it to the Big Hundred-Oh, and I think he will be able to. Every decade marker is a joy and a jolt, but I have to admit that there is something about thirty that marks the end of “older adolescence” and the beginning of “OMG I really am an adult now.” At least that is the way I felt on my thirtieth birthday.

  2. I HATED turning 30. Dreaded it. Cried on my birthday. Now that I’m 34, turning 30 seems inconsequential….because one day, I will be facing the big 40.

    Welcome to the 30-something club. Enjoy your stay.

  3. You captured it quite nicely, it’s the closing of the door that leaves you a little jarred. Thirty and 40 weren’t that hard for me but I just turned 50 and well… because ones body (at least as a woman) starts to charge in so many ways it’s different. I feel this odd need to grieve the death of the woman I was, before I can embrace the woman I am becoming. I don’t recognize this woman, yet….

Leave a comment