On not settling and the wisdom of 30

NS August 1st, 2010

Something about turning 30 made me finally feel like a proper grown-up, even though I had already acquired a husband, two children, a family car and a mortgaged house in suburbia before then. How much more grown-up than that can one  get, you might ask?

But I don’t define my adulthood by my relationships with other people, how many children I have or how much stuff I own. That’s what I believed in my teens and twenties. The beauty of turning 30 is that all those preconceived notions  you had about life after 30 are immediately thrown out the window.

I thought 30 meant a settled, boring life with little room for fun or growth. I believed that if you hadn’t done your travelling, established a career, given up partying, become health conscious and gotten a foot on the property ladder by the time the 3-0 fell on you like an ax, you were doomed to lead a life of misery and/or juvenile denial, desperately trying to catch up with peers who’d had their heads screwed on straight.

Then I turned 30.

And instead of feeling resigned to my ‘fate’ and depressed at all the things I hadn’t managed to accomplish in my 20s, I was overcome with an incredible sense of determination to reach my goals. And not only would I fulfil them, I would do them well and joyfully, I promised myself.

I never listed those goals here (though I did talk about some of them individually here and there) because I needed time to work out exactly what it is I feel missing in my life, what I want to accomplish and what matters most to me. Slowly, over the course of the past year or so, I’ve been making a mental list and adding and taking things away until I have before me the opportunity to make myself happy. Make myself happy, not waiting for someone or something to fall into my lap or chasing dreams that are someone else’s, what society says I should be aspiring to.

Learning that lesson, not ‘settling’ or what you’ve already got, is what being 30 is all about, I think. If our 20s are for growing and experiencing, our 30s are for finally learning the lessons we glossed over in our haste to beat the clock. What I didn’t know then was that I had set that clock against myself.

Finally realising that I could turn the whole damn thing off, that I didn’t have to keep hitting snooze and sleep-walk through the rest of my life, is the best gift that being a 30-something has given me. I can only imagine how much more I will learn as I progress through this decade.

So now, I am working my way through my new goals and finding the most amazing sense of self as I tick one item after another off my list, or plan and work towards the day I can.

  • Become a runner and complete at least one race
  • Repair and strengthen my marriage
  • Rediscover and appreciate music
  • Learn to play an instrument
  • Become successfully self-employed
  • Explore the fantastic city I live in
  • Make people smile with random acts of kindness
  • Fight for a cause I truly believe in
  • Learn the art of photography
  • Read at least a few pages of a (paper) book every day
  • Control my reactions to things  I cannot control
  • Enjoy my children and live in the moment
  • Write for the sake of writing, as and when I want to
  • Learn to be unafraid of what others may think of me

I’ve already completed some of the things on this list and have plans in place to complete the others. Some are works in progress that will be ongoing, not items I can ever tick completely off my list. These are not things I want to do, but rather processes and learning experiences for who I want to be.

I’ll never settle for anything less again.

Photo credit

11 Responses to “On not settling and the wisdom of 30”

  1. It’s amazing how perspective changes as you reach a self imposed mile stone isn’t it? And it doesn’t just affect the way you think about being 30 but suddenly you can look forwards to the future and see that it never stops being fun, you never stop growing and discovering, even when you reach 60, 70 or 80. Back in my twenties I thought life was dull at 30 but over at 60, what do 60 year olds have to look forward to, right? But now, having cleared the 30 milestone I see that life stretches on and it is all filled with new things, you never stop learning and enjoying life.
    Heather – Notes From Lapland´s last blog ..July Secret Post ClubMy ComLuv Profile

  2. Expat Mum says:

    As someone who first became published after turning 40, I agree! Just make sure the list doesn’t become overwhelming, ’cause then it’s not fun. And always allow room for flexibility – such as having a surprise baby at 41 – like I did!

  3. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Noble Savage, Luschka van Onselen. Luschka van Onselen said: RT @thenoblesavage: New post: On not settling and the wisdom of 30 http://tinyurl.com/37wmg2o >>> great post! Totally agree! [...]

  4. Geekymummy says:

    You seem to have done a lot already for being just 30! I hope the next decade is everything you want it to be! Happy Birthday.
    Geekymummy´s last blog ..crazy hat dayMy ComLuv Profile

  5. Capital Mom says:

    Great ist. And happy birthday.

    I am realizing that we change all the time. We have to keeping relooking at our life as things become more or less important to us.

    We are all just works in progress.

  6. Liz says:

    Very inspiring! Happy Birthday NS, how’s the running going?
    Liz´s last blog ..3 years oldMy ComLuv Profile

  7. NS says:

    Sorry for the misunderstanding — it isn’t my birthday, or my 30th! I turned 31 over a month ago. I was just musing on life since I entered my 30s in general. :)

  8. Great list, which has inspired me to create my own. Completely agree about the thirties years, and apparently the forties are even better. Not that I’m trying to sprint to get there…
    angelsandurchinsblog´s last blog ..Stress-free family flyingMy ComLuv Profile

  9. Nova says:

    A belated Happy Birthday!
    What a great set of goals…..good luck with achieving them.
    Nova´s last blog ..Marshmallow SticksMy ComLuv Profile

  10. I really need to put one of those lists together…I don’t think I actually relaxed and started just getting on with stuff (as opposed to being desperate about stuff) until I turned 40. Turning fifty is looming up in less than 3 years, though, and that feels like a bit of a milestone. Can’t deny that at that point, there’ll be less in front than behind.

    Or will there? It’s equally hard to deny the bit of me that simply won’t acknowledge that…
    Dad Who Writes´s last blog ..Screaming rageMy ComLuv Profile

  11. The Beast says:

    An interesting blog… Bit different from my Noble Savage blog… but interesting nonetheless! LOL, happy blogging!