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Turning 30: the lessons learned from my 20s


To quote Bo Burnham from his recent Netflix special masterpiece 'Inside': "Now I'm turning 30 (nyooo!)"


It's a bit of weird one. My mam had me when she was 30, and I think that's the most stark realisation of my supposedly fully-fledged-adult age. Because, to be frank, I still feel like an overgrown child most of the time. When the clock strikes midnight, and my 20s are officially over, will something suddenly *click* and I'll instantly feel like a proper grown up? Someone who understands taxes and enjoys doing laundry and knows their limit in cocktails?!

In all seriousness though, I don't mind turning 30 too much. It's a privilege to grow older and all that. And I don't mind knowing that I'll be a 30 year old who prioritises having dogs instead of babies, who won't be a homeowner for a while, and who still regularly eats pesto pasta for dinner like I did in college. Because, when I evaluate my life right now, it's not perfect but it is contentment. And when I think back on my 20s, that's something I was always chasing.


I'd love to let the younger version of me know that was coming. That "they" are right: as you get older, you do get calmer. My 20s were...chaotic; a potent recipe for anxiety. Romantic disasters, alcohol-soaked antics, career highs and lows...I don't think I'd change anything because looking back, it's shaped me into who I am. But, if I did get to have a chat with the 20-something version of me who felt a bit lost at times, here's what I'd let her know.

Stop dating arseholes. Don't wait around hoping they'll change. Narcissists don't change, emotionally unavailable people don't change. You'll waste so much time crying over guys - one merde in particular - who just aren't worth it. In fact, you'll reflect on your heartbreak with bewilderment as you'll wonder how you ever gave your lovely heart to someone who didn't deserve it. The person who does deserve it, however, will come along when you least expect it, and make you realise how you should be treated. So yeah, dump yer man. I can tell you with hindsight that it's the most empowering feeling to leave a toxic situation behind.

If someone tries to make you feel like shit, let them know you won't be putting up with it. Whether that's in a workplace or a day-to-day interaction; make it very clear that you aren't a push over. You spent so many years being shy, and insecure, that it might feel alien to stand your ground in front of an intimidating character. But, you're more of a tough bish than you realise. You're WELL able to put people in their place. So don't be afraid to do it.

Yes, you will get into your Ford Ka in the SuperValu carpark in Enniscorthy some evenings and despair about your job as a newspaper reporter. You will feel totally fed up as it's not what you want to do; it's not the path you want to go down. But, every experience you have will lead to the next one. One difficult door will lead to a shiny, new one, and behind it is the excitement of opportunities. The hard work reporting in your home town will lead to you interviewing famous actors at movie premieres and managing photo shoots every month for a glossy magazine. Just keep graftin' and you will make.it.happen.

When it comes to friendships, it's quality over quantity. Never mind the bullshit you'll see surrounding the term 'girl squad', all you need is a few close friends, who really care and who will always be there for you and you have all you need. And, if a crack appears in one of those special friendships, mend it. Life is too short to not fix the messiness that can occur now and then. When you love someone, let them know! The same goes for family; always make time for them.

And some bullet points:


Don't try to be someone you're not depending on what company you're in. Be your awkward, goofy, glorious self.


You don't have to say yes to EVERYTHING. Your mental health will thank you when you take a break from being 'on' all the time.


Nothing good ever happens after 2am - but good stories it does make.


If something doesn't go to plan...it's GRAND. Like, the world won't end. Chill out.


Take risks, be spontaneous and travel as much as your bank account will allow you.


You don't owe anyone anything, and vice versa.


You'll probably put on a bit of weight every now and then, seeing as you had the metabolism of a flea up until now. See before: it's GRAND.


The only known hangover cure that has been proven to work for you is time, and a 3-in-one. Just accept they're only going to get worse.


Nobody has their shit together. Nobody. We're all messes behind closed doors, wondering when we'll actually have it all figured out. But the beauty in life whether it's our 20s, 30s, 40s and beyond is the chaos among the calm. Sure, how boring would it be otherwise!?