When Dirty 30 Looms

*Article by Financial Coach Rebecca Pritchard 

This year is a special one for me and many of my friends.

There are weddings everywhere, a couple of babies, blossoming careers.

And amongst all that, a lot us are turning 30. Hello, milestone birthday!

As an old soul, who works with people mostly a few years older than me, I feel very comfortable entering my 30s. It feels like I’ve already been there for a while. So whilst I don’t really like even numbers, I’m not phased in the slightest by the turning of a decade.

But still, there’s something about a milestone birthday that feels ominous to me, and many people I talk to. What exactly does a milestone do to us?

Time for reflection

Whether you think big birthdays or anniversaries are important or not, we naturally stop and reflect. It’s a time to have a look in the mirror and wonder, “How did I get here?”

I know that at milestones (18, 21, 25, now 30) I can’t help but compare my reality with the way I thought it was all going to pan out.

Some things have turned out surprisingly well-aligned to young-Rebecca’s plans. For other things, I laugh at how naive I was. I had no idea of the options that would come or the changes that would happen in the world.

Comparisons to others

I think the milestones also make us think about how we’re stacking up to others — which is always a bad recipe.

I’m turning 30 as a happily married woman, established in my career, the owner of properties (because really, it’s Australia and if you don’t have a property be prepared for judgement :|). I’m living a ‘socially acceptable’ life. I’m very comfortable and intentional in my vanilla-ness.

Others have completely different 30-year-old versions of themselves. They’ve had career changes, back-steps, forward leaps and pivots. They’re exploring new things, in new spaces, with new people. They’re intelligent, have lived overseas, excelled as athletes, found love, lost love and found themselves.

Some of my friends in this position have said “I haven’t done anything with my life”, measuring it against my more conventional track.

But they need not be comparing their 30 to me or others, and I need not be comparing my 30 to them.

Our differences at 30 and at any age make the world more diverse and better as a result.

Make the milestones positive

I think it might be time to change the way we interact with our milestones.

The grass isn’t always greener, but I look at my friends and members at 30 and think “wow”, so maybe we can all think a bit more “wow” about ourselves!