happy thirty

I forget a lot of things. ● My friends always joke with me because I don't seem to be able to retain all the stories or gossip or milestones from our shared childhood. I think I've somehow wired my brain so that I only remember the really big things: both uplifting and traumatic. That's just how my brain works.

One thing I can't not remember though is that I am now thirty years old. It still feels weird writing that down, and when I have to select the higher age band on some forms, and when I say it out loud when someone asks me. The thing is, I am mainly aware of it being a "milestone" because most of my friends are of a similar age and everyone around me treats it as one.

🔥 I saw an article the other day (thank you Facebook algorithms) which had the headline "You are most likely to do something extreme when you're 29, the year before you turn 30", or something equally catchy. And it got me thinking: what is it with the age 30 that seems to ignite both an inner panic and gratefulness in people. As friends around me started approaching thirty, one of three things seemed to happen:

1. The "30 things before I'm 30" list
2. The "30 things I want to do in my 30s" list
3. The hybrid "I'm going to reflect on what I've achieved so far and what I still haven't done" list

I also received a lot of advice (and reflections), from either those who were in their thirties or those older who were looking back fondly (and not fondly) at the time when they hit the same milestone.

🙇 Whatever age you are, the conclusion seems to be: 30 is a point in many people's lives where the "big evaluation" comes to the forefront of our thoughts and actions. No one I spoke to wanted to reach 30 and feel like they "hadn't achieved" or "still had a lot to do and time was running out" or they had somehow "lost their hunger for life".

I'm part of a generation (cue: the millennials) where society and culture dictates that by this point I should really have a steady job, earn relatively good money (or on the way to it), own my first home, have a partner (who I've ideally married), maybe created a baby (or two), and oh yeah... be happy, have some hobbies, and generally do good and be a good human in the world. Just a light little list there, which I am then going to add on to by starting a "30 things to do before I'm 30" list, or a deep and meaningful reflection about all of those things and beyond that I don't seem to have achieved yet. And some people wonder why my generation is so hard on itself - we have it so... easy.

🙅 I refused to do any of those three lists. Maybe I'm stubborn, but it just felt like a lot of pressure to me. Don't get me wrong, I am a goal orientated person - like many people my age, we've been wired as such from a young age. I'd like to think that I'm ambitious, I work hard, and I like to achieve things. Then enters the little challenge - thinking the way I think, setting myself goals will never be enough. A genuine insight into myself that I've learnt over the last year. Whenever I'm given a goal, I see that goal, I look beyond it, I aim for that beyond-goal, and then I bully myself afterwards if I didn't reach the beyond-goal, even if I've achieved the original goal. My manager (an absolute legend) regularly reminds me that I have very high expectations. Some of our conversations can end up in me loudly saying "no I don't have high expectations" - because as one of my close pals replayed to me the other day: the louder I say it, the more it will be true... to me. Which makes me laugh in all of its glorious ridiculousness.

🙋 So what did I do instead? I decided to do three things:

1. Made sure to celebrate this "milestone" with close friends and family
2. Asked those around me for "words of wisdom" to enter my thirties with
3. Make a list of "30 things that I love and have learnt about myself over the last 30 years"

😊 One, was pretty straight forward. I love organising gatherings and so that's exactly what I did. I had a lovely private dinner with my UK family at the glorious Fink's, and then I had a boogey and some cocktails at Simmon's - nothing big, relatively intimate, and revolving around three of my favourite activities: eating, dancing, and chatting.

😌 Two, was a little more of a slow-burner. It was really interesting how everyone reacted to the question. Those not-yet thirty, gave me goals - ranging from learning how to drive to trying something new. Those in their thirties, gave me the best advice they still remember from when they asked a similar question - the best was probably "your thirties are for bold colours and bold decisions", simple, sweet, and very clear to action - or reflections (and sometimes regrets) on their twenties that would have "set them up better" in their thirties. Those in their forties+, were much more philosophical - unsurprisingly, as I guess they've lived through more decades and can look back with a lot more context. Many did say that their thirties were a pivotal moment - from starting "to not give a f*ck about what others thought or did" to "honing in on doing the things they wanted to do, seeing the people they wanted to see, moving into a job that they'd been dreaming of doing, and just valuing what they'd managed to build and achieve so far." The biggest insight I got though was that goals will no doubt give direction, but timelines (for achieving those goals) will always get blurred. I guess that's the beauty of life's unpredictability.

😯 Three, then got me thinking. How much do I really know about myself and what would I automatically list as my top "30 things that I love and have learnt about myself in 30 years". So, I gave myself a little challenge (I am a millennial after all, that's what we do): write this list in one go, 30 seconds for each point, and no changes (editing allowed after so my grammar isn't offensive to the English language gods). Here goes:

1. The smell of rain after a really hot day - ideally, while stood in the middle of a jungle
2. Getting into bed like a G - clean bedding, clean hair and clean PJs
3. Discovering new music - especially when it knocks me sideways and I have no words, plus I miss listening to random CDs at the old Virgin Megastore (RIP) listening posts
4. When my mum's face lights up - usually the first moment I see her after a long time apart
5. Listening to stories of days-gone-by - particularly from my Malagasy grandparents
6. The melodies of my Malagasy family - often when they impromptu burst into song
7. Dancing anywhere and everywhere - be it locking, house, something new, or in da club
8. Browsing fresh food markets - with the bonus of stalls covered in jams, cheese, and bread
9. I love food so much - it dictates a lot of what I do, where I go, and who I hang out with
10. People watching - and making stories in my head about what their stories are
11. The smell of the air as I step foot off a plane for the first time - particularly when I arrive in Tana
12. The sound of desert blues - specifically the sounds of the legendary Tinariwen
13. I don't like feelings - I like being happy, and that is my go to spectrum of emotions
14. Investing in a series from start to finish - Grey's Anatomy, Mad Men, Suits, and Scandal
15. A good snap - taking them on my phone, a camera, or through someone else, looking at pops' photography books, making a photo album... I just love snaps
16. Walking in the middle of the road - anytime but especially on a warm summer evening
17. Sparkling water - ideally locally sourced, air(plane)-footprints aren't the one
18. My skincare regime - morning and night time loving for my face
19. Early morning and very late at night - when the world is asleep and it's super calm
20. Sky art - from a great cloud formation to a sunrise or sunset that looks like a painting
21. Bubble baths - particularly after coming in from the cold, ideal thinking time too
22. Fresh n fly kicks - that's "good-looking trainers" to you non-millennials
23. Wearing whatever I want - and generally not giving a f*ck (unless I need to be profesh)
24. A good massage - currently obsessed with hot bamboo and hot stone: #heaven
25. People playing with my hair - with purpose (like a hairdresser), not just randomly touching it (definitely don't do that)
26. Music, music, and more music - particularly if I don't understand the words, because I can then daydream and make up all sorts of stories
27. Blending in when I travel to other countries - I'm a big fan of conscious tourism
28. Furry animal friends - with a major soft spot for amstaffs (american staffies - mum currently has two, and my pal Chloe has one, and they are all a bunch of sausages - the dogs, not mum and Chloe)
29. Getting down with the fruit - trying new ones, eating classic ones, and over-eating my favourites (tomato fruit, lychee, mango, pineapple, blueberries, and watermelon)
30. My support network - family, friends, work-fam, funk sisters, soulmates, birthday twin, all of whom I'm beyond grateful for and am spoilt by

Now, I look forward to adding to this list.

💪 My challenge to you, whatever age you are, is to attempt the same, with the same rules. It's 15 minutes of your life (if you're 30) and you might be surprised by what pops into your head first. I was. I would love to see what you come up with, but if you just want to do this for you, then enjoy. 

🙆 See you all soon!


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