Sunday, January 22, 2012

Turning 30: What the hell does it mean?

I’m turning 30. It’s pretty overwhelming, moving from one rite of passage (marriage) to another (getting old). Of course, I’m exaggerating for effect here, but only just a tad.

Is this the face of '30'?
Turning 30 is a big deal. Thanks to our infantilization of young adults, turning 20 doesn’t seem to mean a thing anymore, nor does turning 18—an age which our culture used to imbue with so much special meaning. Because we are now delaying leaving the nest by several years compared to the generation before us, there’s no clear transition from child to adult at the turn of our second decade. But 30 has maintained its clout and it stalks the 20-somethings like a sort of leaves-you-living Grim Reaper.


The truth is, I am finding myself the owner of a number of new labels, none of which mean a damn thing to me, but all of which mean a ton to the people around me. Last week at the start of a meeting with some major stakeholders at work, I mentioned I was recently married. This is a group of people who usually see my youthful face and my tattoo peeking out of my sleeve, and spend the next two hours doubting everything I tell them because I’m ‘so young’. (Note, for those who don’t know my appearance: I still get carded to get into Quebec bars, where the drinking age is 18.) But at the mention of my marital status, I could see their eyes retracing my face, trying to re-establish their first impression of me. Surely she can’t be older than 25, their eyes say; when I tell them how long I’ve been in the field, they squint at me again, realizing there’s just no way I was working professionally at age 15.

Does this constitute 30 yr-old behaviour?

And now I’ve got a new label to add to my repertoire: thirty. It is truly the end of my youth, and you cannot argue with me on this one: even the government of Canada has capped the word ‘youth’ to apply to people 29 and under. At 30, my read is that I’m expected to have my sh*t together, and I should be on some sort of clear and established path. A successful 30 year-old, in my mind’s eye, has found her ideal hairdresser. She wears business attire to work that manages to appear professional while still being current and accentuate her figure. She wears understated pumps, has thrown out her last pair of novelty tights, and has discovered her own personal perfect shade of ‘nude’ pantyhose. She attends a fitness class two or three times a week, aside from her strict running schedule, and she drives a sensible car that is well-maintained. She and her mother meet up for lunch once a month, and she sees her father about as often, when she and her spouse stop by for a Sunday dinner. She has a pet befitting her work schedule—a work schedule that she knows she can only maintain for another couple of years, but she pushes her way through it so she can accomplish her goal of reaching upper management by 35. She knows the right kind of cleaner to use for every surface in her house (which is an adorable starter house in a neighbourhood that borders the city and the suburbs). She wears matching bra and panty sets, ones with satin and lace. She drinks white wine at dinners and martinis on holidays, and she has regularly scheduled Girls’ Nights at a trendy local lounge. She sleeps seven perfect hours a night, and supplements with wheatgrass.

Oh my god. I think Sex & the City has damaged my brain.


'30' would never be this undignified. (Apple stuck in teeth.)
The reality is, I’m a month away from 30, and this is my life: I do not have my sh*t together. I’ve just realized that my education-designated profession isn’t fulfilling me, and I’m doing a 180, aspiring to be a social media/marketing/PR pro full-time. I found my ideal hairdresser, but she’s on mat leave and after another stylist mucked my hair up, I recently tried to fix it myself with devastating consequences. I hate business clothes and find that I’m attracted to a clothing style I’d best label as ‘ragamuffin’. I don’t wear pumps because I like to walk fast, so ballet flats or motorcycle boots it is. I cut up my one and only pair of pantyhose to make a piecemeal pair of compression shorts when I found my thighs were rubbing together in the summer. I do work out a lot, but I think I’m flunking out of pole dancing because, turns out, I’m terrified of heights, and eventually you’ve got to start hanging upside-down off the pole…and anyway, pole dancing isn’t what that ideal 30 year-old woman would be doing. I also hate running.

My car was made the year I graduated high school, and if a CSI team ever found it, they’d be able to determine my personal eating habits for the previous 30 days based on all the wrappers and chopsticks under the seats. My mother and I have never had a lunch date, partially because my job makes me work over the lunch hour, and partially because she already sees me at least once a week, when I stop by, overwhelmed with life and needing advice. My dad and I are the same story. I take Brian there for dinner often so he can have a properly cooked square meal.

I do have a pet befitting my work schedule, but once my tumorous, narcoleptic pug dog finally passes on, I am adamant that I want a border collie…one of the most active dogs you can buy. My work schedule is, I grant you, intense, but I already hate it and I don’t want to keep it up for another five years. Oh, and my crazy work schedule doesn’t promise any promotion is coming up, either.
10 secs after this shot, I got hit on by a teenager. I look young.

I don’t know what kind of cleaner to use on each surface; in fact, if a reader could please direct me to a food-safe counter cleaner, I’d be much obliged. My starter home is several years away still, and our starter apartment lists disturbingly to the left. My bras and panties never match, and in fact, most of my underwear has whales, flowers, or plaid printed on them. I can’t drink white wine, and martinis are gross, and I don’t know when I’d ever choose to spend a night at a lounge instead of spending it on the couch with a box of Jr Mints and reruns of 30 Rock.

I sleep past my alarm every single morning. And I barely remember to eat vegetables, nevermind remembering that wheatgrass is even a thing.

'30' doesn't use her face as a brake in snowboarding.
Okay, so I admit, my image of ‘30’ may be a bit extreme; but I’m relatively certain that the average person’s image of a 30 year-old woman isn’t me, wearing my ‘PUGS, NOT DRUGS’ tee shirt, roller skating to the Candy Store to stock up on licorice pipes (the admission price for advice from my dad). I have no idea how to be 30, and I don’t really want to say that there’s no difference between this year and the last. I’m ready to move forward into adulthood; I just don’t know how to do it.

What I do know for sure is that I’m not really ready to give up my whale-print undies.

To Be Continued….

Author's note: this post has inspired some other lovely bloggers to talk about their own experience with turning 30; read Lara Wellman's post here, and Amy Boughner's post here. Enjoy!


  1. Oh, how you make me smile. 30 is a number - no more, no less. You are a fabulous 29-year-old and you will be a fabulous 30-year-old.

    Who wears whale print undies, because why not!?

    1. Thanks, Karen...I keep forgetting lately that I'm still 29, too! -Jordan

  2. I have so much to say about this post, and turning 30, that I think I may just have to write my own blog post about it this morning :)

    But in a brief summary, the best thing about turning 30 is that you've lived some life. The best thing about having lived life is that you've figured out a lot of stuff, who you are, and you know how to deal. What does that mean? Life just becomes less angsty. At least for me.

    I cared less what other people thought. I felt better in my skin. I felt brave enough to make the choices I wanted to make for myself regardless of other people (well, within reason ;)

    I have changed my career (more or less) twice since turning 30 and I'm only 35.

    And looking young certainly isn't a bad thing. I've been asked twice in the last month if I was in my twenties and let me tell ya, that feels nice. You do have great skin though - did you catch me staring weirdly at you on Friday night at any point? Every once in awhile I'd catch myself staring thinking "damn she has beautiful skin". In a non-creepy way, of course ;)

    1. I read your post (link is in the post above, people) and it was reassuring! I like the idea of life becoming less angsty, because sometimes I feel like a Cathy cartoon. CHOCOLATE, CHOCOLATE, CHOCOLATE, ACK!

  3. In my minds eye you have things going on. You follow your passions, are willing to put yourself out there and live! I don't know you to well so I might be off base but from my outsiders point of view that is what I see. Let's not forget a beautiful woman with a great smile! From a 41 year old (me) only gets better...

    1. Annie, you're such a wonderful soul. Thank you so much for your sweet, heartfelt words. And for the record, I do NOT believe you're 41!!!! You have the glow usually attributed to a much younger woman...but maybe there's lots of glowing 40-somethings and they just look really youthful! You, Annie, are amazing.

    2. As you know, I am turning 40 in almost 30 days. I will be responding to this, soonish. ;-)

  4. Jordan- 30 is only a number. You are only as old as you feel. Enjoy getting carded. At 42, I got carded at a casino in Gananoque - I nearly hugged the guy! You will more than likely keep being asked, so enjoy it while it lasts.

    1. Hey Judy; I agree, getting carded isn't a bad thing. I didn't get carded on my birthday last year and I almost wept. My mom has the same knack; she used to be asked all the time if we were sisters. I figured that probably meant she looked 15 years younger than she is, while I must look 15 years older, which was unfortunate. Apparently, we just both look really young. :)