30 – Happy (and I Know It)

Perhaps it is the onset of spring (at least for us lucky souls in the Southern Hemisphere). Perhaps it is the halo effect of my (now distant) sojourn in Scandinavia, the Land of Everlasting Happiness. I’m staring down the barrel of my fourth decade on Earth, and yet instead of fear, or distress, or a sense of foreboding commonly attributed to a female leaving her roaring twenties behind, I am in a state that can only be described as brimming with expectancy.

Saying that now is the time of my life is perhaps a tinge rich and premature, but with the benefit of hindsight in a few decades’ time I’m sure the bold statement won’t be too far off the mark. I have seen too many before me reaching this stage in life and feeling out of sorts; and to those I wish only to express my condolences. By focusing on the “haves” (and properly putting the “have nots” to rest), I have somehow managed to survive my quarter-life crisis in better shape than I have ever anticipated. So, as a courtesy to the past thirty years of ebbs and flows, here’s to taking stock of what I have, and all that makes me happy.

1. The power of independent coupling

I’ve partnered young. Or as the doomsayers would say, too young.

Partnering young (and with a good man), however, can have its perks and quirks. A decade spent in the companionship of a loved one has allowed us to iron out the gnarly edges of a relationship formed since adolescence. Where those embarking on a new relationship in their late twenties can still expect to tiptoe around their partners in the hope of presenting the best of themselves, we are well on our way to “independent coupling”. This may sound avant-garde, but it is simply short-form for mutual respect and flexibility to pursue our passions and it suits us just fine.

2. The value of lifelong friendships

Happiness at 30 would be unattainable if not for the friendships forged over many rounds of high tea, karaoke dates and retail therapy. Whilst some have made a pit stop appearance in my life, others have wandered by, pitched a tent and decided to set up camp.

I have also become impatient and uncompromising with affectations in friendships. Happiness is a choice and I choose to surround myself with nurturing, adventurous and thoroughly tested friends who have shared in my history, live up to the present and offer unconditional support for the future.

3. Modicum of financial independence 

Whilst I will not be rushing to any LV / Versace / Prada fashion launches soon, I am glad to be no longer counting the pennies. The currency of money is not a universal elixir, but it solves an awful lot of life’s teething necessities (like that next soul-searching expedition, or a shiny new gadget, or designer furnishings, or even a career sabbatical). The freedom that comes with financial independence – the golden period which predates financial interdependence (either upstream or downstream) – is arguably the best part of life at 30.

4. Knowing and pursuing

I was precocious growing up, and as the years wore on, I have become acutely self-aware. Almost for the first time, I know what I want in life (and certainly what I do not want).

If the first thirty years have been squandered on dreaming, I hope the next ten will be focused on pursuing such dreams. Where previously I saw insurmountable perils, now I see infinite possibilities. So stop waiting for things to happen; make them happen!

5. Moving forward…and moving on

30 signals the time to bid adieu to life’s pesky insecurities and desist crying over spilt milk. The self-consciousness that haunted me in my teenage years are a bygone memory. Similarly, others’ preconceptions of me and the often slanderous he said / she said mind games have limited capacity to drive daggers through my heart. It is comforting to know that the little girl who would have once run away and cried would now take setbacks in her stride and roll with the punches.

I am also able to graciously accept that the only constant in life is change. There is inordinate wisdom in JFK’s words that “those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future”.

6. Appreciate others, and love thyself

I am finally comfortable in my own skin, and consider myself fortunate to continue to harbour the curiosities of a child and not yet the jadedness of an old maid.

At 30, I can appreciate that life is not a bed of roses. I have made peace with the knowledge that sometimes what has the ability to render the greatest love can also inflict the greatest hurt. And yet throughout it all, we must learn to love thyself and embrace life for what it is, and can be. Thorns and all.

* What is the most positive aspect of life at 20/30/40/50…80? I would love to hear your thoughts, so please feel free to share in the Comments below! 🎉🎈🍾*

Sydney 6
Sometimes beauty is all around; all we need is a discerning eye.

21 Comments Add yours

  1. Ida Auclond says:

    I can relate! While I haven’t quite reached financial security yet (well, I reached it, lost it, got it back it, lost it again), I also get the feeling that my 30s might turn out to be the beginning of the best part of my life.

    The best part of my 20s? Hmm… I liked that time when I started making money and had no child. My partner and I would do snowboard, party with friends, etc. It was so much fun! But the very best part is probably that my 20s allowed me know myself better and to address some issues that prevented me from adapting to the adult life.

    Nice post!

    1. Jolene says:

      Great to hear your take on it Ida! In some ways I would love to re-live my 20s again (especially early 20s) as I’ve squandered most of the best times. But then again, money was extremely tight back then so I felt constantly constrained. You have a child? That’s great, having a child when you are young can provide such a fresh perspective and act as an anchor in life. All in all, I think we should be grateful, yes things could always be better, but I’m glad they are not worse 😁

      1. Ida Auclond says:

        Ah yes, I have a 3-year-old daughter. ^^; I wanted to “have completed” my family by the time I was 30. Well, I did since we decided to stop after one. I suffered from a severe post-partum depression – that’s really the worst part of my 20s – and we just won’t risk that again).

        Looking back, I might have been in too much of a hurry to have a child. It complicated things financially and professionally speaking (actually, it complicated *everything*). But I’m comfortable with the choices I made.

      2. Jolene says:

        Thanks for being so frank with me Ida. Whilst not from experience (no kids for me yet) I can fully appreciate how depression can grip you after such a major event and it is something I’m not looking forward to personally. Sometimes there is never the ‘right’ time, there is always the disruption that a new being will have on the existing trajectory. Hopefully children will all grow up knowing that mums have sacrificed so much to bring them into the world! Glad to hear you are comfortable with your decisions 🙂

      3. Ida Auclond says:

        No problem. I don’t hide it, really.

        It’s not so much the “event”, though it does take time to get used to having to care for a baby 24/7. I think the real source of the problem came from hormonal disruption and lack of sleep. I’m an episodic insomniac. Even though my daughter had “long” nights (5 hours) almost from the beginning, I felt lucky when I could sleep two hours in a row. People always talk about how tired they are when they have a new born, so I did not address the problem. It was normal, I thought. Except it wasn’t; most people still sleep more than 4 hours every 24 hours and that was practically my maximum. I thought at some point, I’d be so tired I’d faint or finally be able to sleep, except I started to fantasize about death as a way to “rest” instead. Whoops. ^^;

        But I’ve learned a lot from my depression and it really made me grow (well, that and the therapy that ensued). And it gave me an additional spark of passion for studying psychology, which is useful for a writer. ^_^

      4. Jolene says:

        That sounds so harrowing, yet must have been unimaginably real for you and your family. I’m one lucky sleeper, but I have insomniacs in my family and it takes its toll on family life. I’m glad that you have been able to find positives in your experiences and move forward with new resolve – psychology is a highly interesting topic and one of my favourite non-fictions to date remains Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow. I also hope you’ve found solace in blogging!!

      5. Ida Auclond says:

        Yes, writing is my therapy, whether I write blog posts or fiction.

        Sounds like an interesting book!

      6. Jolene says:

        Absolutely, writing / blogging is therapeutic in ways that non-writers / non-bloggers could never understand…

  2. HesterLeyNel says:

    Great post. I hit my 30s more than 30 years ago (I’m 65 😀 ) and I can truly say that life can be wonderful at any age, but I never want to return to my teens and twenties! Best wishes to you for the next 30 years.

    1. Jolene says:

      Hi Hester, I ascribe to your views for sure here! Thank you for the well wishes 😊

  3. Rachel McKee says:

    “If the first thirty years have been squandered on dreaming, I hope the next ten will be focused on pursuing such dreams.” I think you just read my mind. I just turned 29 and can relate so much to this post.

    1. Jolene says:

      No way! You have accomplished sooo much in your 29 years, how can that be equated to just dreaming!?

      1. Rachel McKee says:

        We have both accomplished a lot. I guess in the next decade, I want to reach more of my artistic and intellectual goals.

      2. Jolene says:

        Absolutely, the difficulty is identifying goals, once they are cleared defined you are half way there 😊

  4. Canuck Carl says:

    This is tremendously written Jolene.

    Such a neat reflection of your past, your present and what you look forward to in the future. You have a wonderful perspective on life.

    The JFK quote is amazing. I love quotes, and this is one I have not heard before.

    You have set a solid foundation with your partner, friendships and finances. Continue to nurture these and it will carry you throughout your life. And pursue those dreams. There will never be any regrets! 🙂


    1. Jolene says:

      Hi Carl, thank you for the kind feedback. It’s amazing when people can relate! I will definitely heed your advice and carry on living a life of no regrets! 😃

  5. What a great post! I’m almost 20 years ahead of you in age and reading this post makes me remember back to hitting 30. You are so right about the dreaming phase. Hope you set out and achieve those goals for yourself. You are very wise at your young age!

    1. Jolene says:

      Thank you Selma, that is very kind! I don’t think we can ever stop dreaming though, whether at 10, 30, 50 or 90. But it would be nice to start living…

      1. The dreams are always there. They can be the inspiration to make something unreal become real.

      2. Jolene says:

        That’s a great way to put it, absolutely right. 🎈🎈

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