Throughout my 20s, I read a lot of articles and tweets about people ~loving~ being 29. They all made it seem like when you entered your late 20s, you would immediately have zero fucks about anything—and by the time you turn 29, you would be ready and excited to turn 30 and leave your childish 20s behind.
But come ON. That isn’t true.
Who the fuck gets excited about turning 30? What 29-year-olds are ready to not be part of the hip, young club in the workplace? What 29-year-olds are sitting around rolling their eyes at young people who like drinking beer and going to concerts? What 29-year-olds aren’t sad about leaving their 20s?
I’m pretty sure the whole ‘being excited about turning 30’ thing is something people have said in order to try and convince themselves that are in fact happy to leave their 20s. Like, yes, you have to accept that you’re turning 30 at 29 because it’s going to happen whether you like it or not—but accepting this fact doesn’t mean that you have to be okay with it. And guess what? I’m here to tell you that it’s okay if you’re not okay with it.
Ever since I turned 29 two months ago I’ve felt this sadness. Not disappointment. Not anger. Not failure. Just sadness.
I’m not disappointed that I didn’t accomplish all the things I wanted to in my 20s. I’m not mad at myself for not doing these things in my 20s. I don’t feel like I’ve failed because I can’t check all of things I wanted to do off my 20-something checklist. After all, over the past ten years I’ve grown up, matured, progressed in my career—I’ve done a lot. And I have still have time to do more because turning 30 doesn’t mean my life is over. There’s still time to accomplish old goals, and new goals too.
In a way, I’m at peace with turning 30 because I know can continue accomplishing things after my next birthday. But that doesn’t mean I can’t be sad my 20s are ending. Because although I’ve accepted that I’m turning 30, I’m not the least bit okay with it.
The other day I was sitting in a workout class waiting for it to begin and the two girls next to me were talking about class, boys, and parties. I realized in that moment that I was the old maid sitting next to them. When I their age, I thought people their mid-20s were old and those nearing 30 were grownups who were probably married and having babies. To those girls, I was a grownup, even though I was sitting there feeling like I was still in my early-20s.
I guess I just don’t want to be old. And while I realize 30 isn’t necessarily old, to a young person in his/her early-20s, it’s fucking old. I mean, no one has said the words “you’re still so young!” to me since I was 26. It was like I turned 27 and everyone started silently judging me for being a hot mess, even though they said it was okay the year prior.
I’m sad because I want to be the hip, young one in the office who knows what’s cool and what’s not cool—and I’m not. I’m sad because I want to be the energetic one who can go from work to the gym to the bar without getting tired—but I’m always exhausted. I’m sad because I don’t know what the coolest clubs are anymore and I don’t like all of today’s popular music. I’m sad because all of the music I listen to on Spotify is from years ago—and it now makes me cry. I’m sad because I want to be the young one in the fitness class working hard to look hot in a new outfit this weekend—not the fatigued one trying to survive class to help my metabolism stay at a decent pace. I’m sad because wrinkles are starting to form on my face, and the old ‘glow’ I used to have is gone. I’m sad because I don’t see my friends as much as anymore because of this whole getting older thing—and I miss them (but I’m tired). I’m sad because the decade where I learned who I was, started a career, and had a blast while doing it is coming to a close. I’m sad because two years ago feels like yesterday. I’m sad because these ten years went by so quickly, and I’m terrified for how fast the next ten will go by.
If you’re feeling sad about turning 30, too, you’re not alone. The “29-year-old Sadness” is real, and it makes sense. You’re basically about to lose a piece of you. Like, your 20s are still here with you, but they won’t be around much longer. Your youthful years of partying (responsibly), recklessly spending money (while hopefully still saving some), and not giving a goddamn fuck about anything are basically over—and IT’S TOTALLY FINE AND HEALTHY TO MOURN THEM.
The one thing you need to remember while RIP-ing your 20s is that you’re about to enter another magical decade still full of youth called your 30s. For me, I spent my 20s rotating between being blacked out at the bar, lounging on my couch, working, working out, and sleeping. But in my 30s, I plan to hopefully actually do ‘adult’ things, like get married, have a kid(s), buy a home, invest in a Prada bag (important), and travel more—and that’s a whole lot more exciting than letting life pass me by while going to the same bars every weekend and spending the majority of my free time hungover (although it was a fucking blast and I don’t regret it and I plan to continue the fun into my 30s, just with more adulthood things going on in the background).
So yeah, I’m sad. I’m really sad. The other day I cried in the shower I was so sad. But it’s okay. I’m okay. I’m sure in ten years, I’ll be sad about turning 40 and will look back at my 29-year-old self and wish I was that young again. As The Lion King taught us, this is the circle of life. And it’s weird, and it’s sad, and it’s fun, but it’s life, and it’s happening, and everything will be okay.