Turning 30 Isn't Anything Like Turning 20, And That's Exactly The Point

by Chris Walker

The human psyche is driven to attach itself to round numbers. For whatever reason, numbers divisible by 10 seem to resonate with us more than others, and so we find ourselves drawn to milestones in our lives that end in zero.

When many of us turned 10, we were excited because we were entering the formative years of our lives. When we turned 20, we were entering the prime years of our adulthood -- of being old enough to take on some adult responsibilities, yet still young enough to party, be loud and maybe enter into some relationships for “fun” reasons rather than romantic ones.

But many people dread turning 30. They see it as a final milestone that symbolizes an end rather than a beginning.

And that makes sense. Think about it: When you turned 10, you probably didn't fret about the end of your youth. Instead, you most likely relished the idea of growing up. When you turned 20, you likely had a similar feeling -- you had a stronger sense of importance, and being an adult without the "teen" suffix on your age meant something significant.

Thirty, on the other hand, means giving up being in your 20s, and that can be scary for a lot of people. But it doesn't have to be -- just as turning 10 or turning 20 meant new milestones, turning 30 means new positives in your life as well.

Meaningful relationships and friendships

When you turn 30, you have, by now, developed a core group of friends that you are familiar with and can be yourself around without fear of driving them away. The people you surround yourself know you and accept you for who you are.

And yes, while you can still develop new friendships past the age of 30, the same concept remains -- people who are willing to spend their time around you are more accepting of who you are, and that's a great thing to celebrate.

Your relationships take on more meaning as well. Many people at age 30 are thinking of settling down, but even if you aren't quite there yet, a relationship in your 30s can still mean more than it did in your 20s. When you find someone you click with, it becomes easier to be yourself, and so you don't have to be walking on glass constantly when you're around your significant other.

You also know more about what you want in a partner around age 30 than you did at age 20. In your 20s, you had time to meet all sorts of different people and likely experimented with different relationships. By 30, you've now hashed out your preferences in a partner. Assuming you're someone who doesn't like to make the same mistakes in relationships over and over again, turning 30 means you're more selective and better able to find a partner who's more compatible to what your likes and dislikes are.

More financial stability or the drive to reach it

By the time you've reached your 30s, you may find yourself in a better financial position than you were in your early 20s. This isn't the case for everyone -- many Millennials still live with their parents at this point.

But even if you're not living on your own yet, the urge to find permanence in your job and in your living conditions creates a drive that you might not have felt in your younger years. You want a new car, you want a new house, and turning 30 makes you see that these things are certainly attainable.

This shouldn't be seen as dull and boring, but rather as inspiring. Being driven to do something more gives you the chance to really do your best, to put yourself out there and find your place in the world. While some have done this in their 20s, for a good chunk of us just hitting the big “three-o,” it's "sink or swim" time.

Take advantage of this, and push yourself to your limits.

Creating a healthier you

From the time you hit 20, to the time you reached 29, you probably didn't think much of your health. Most young people feel invincible at that age, but as you get closer to 30, you probably start to notice things about your body that need more attention.

You go to bed earlier. You eat healthier. You drink less. And you feel better.

I can remember in my 20s that I drank every weekend (and some weeknights). I ate fast food more often than I cooked, and I generally didn't exercise all too often.

Nowadays, I try to save drinking for special occasions -- and not just because I finished another workday. Dinners are cooked at home (And they're not just reheated leftovers.), and I try to take walks when the weather's nice or do crunches in the morning before heading to work.

The end result? A generally more positive feeling of accomplishment and a more optimistic outlook on the day overall. Turning 30 meant I started taking care of myself more, and while there's always room for doing more, it's a vast improvement on what I was doing to my body in my 20s.

Thirty isn't the new 20 -- but it's not supposed to be

Turning 30 means new challenges in your life, and it's a significant departure from when you turned 20. But that's the way it's meant to happen -- there were significant differences in what your expectations were when you turned 20 versus 10, and there will be different expectations when you turn 40 versus 30.

Too often, we fear growing old, but we have to keep in mind that getting older is just a part of life. We can choose to fear our own mortality, or we can embrace these new events and take these milestones for what they are -- a chance to live our lives differently and to reinvent ourselves every decade or so.

You reimagined who you were when you turned 20. Now it's time to do the same thing when you turn 30. Don't fear it -- celebrate it!