What You (Wrongly) Believe Your 30s Will Be Like When You’re Still In Your 20s

When you’re in your 20s, the idea of turning 30 scares you — it just seems so far away, so different, so… old. But then you hear everyone saying that 30 is the new 20, and you start to wonder whether being 30 is really as bad as you think (it’s not). Still, you can’t help but make assumptions about people in their 30s, even though you know they aren’t necessarily true.

First of all, 30 isn’t old

No matter how you look at it, entering a new decade by turning 20, 30, or 40 makes you nervous. Your 20s represent the fun years of your life, but after that, you believe things will start going downhill. People in their early 20s think they have plenty of time left to be young, but once you hit your mid-20s, you start getting a bit more serious. Then come the late-20s, until finally, you turn 29 and you’re just dreading your next birthday because once you’re 30, you’re not a kid anymore.

However, let’s be clear here: 30 isn’t old. Not even close to old. In the grand scheme of your life, it’s actually really young. Sure, you’re starting a new decade in your existence, but the majority of your life is still ahead of you. Nevertheless, it’s easy to assume things are on the decline once you hit this milestone.

Things you assume about being in your 30s that are totally wrong

  1. When you’re in your 30s, you’ll have it all figured out. Of course you don’t. People in their 40s and 50s don’t even have it all figured out. It’s impossible to have life all figured out at any age, ever, because we’re always learning and growing as we navigate the world around us. Sure, certain things in life become clearer and easier with age, but it’s always going to be a work in progress. Otherwise, you’re going to end up feeling pretty bored with life. The challenge is the good part.
  2. You’re all settled down by then. Because you’re now “old,” of course you have to settle down and figure yourself out. You’re too old to bar-hop or have one-night stands. Everyone is going to expect you to find a mate and stick with them. They’ll probably also expect you to move in together. So once you turn 30, you have to get serious about your life and start making the plans that will carry you into old age. Of course, things don’t actually work that way for most people…
  3. You’re too young to be wise but too old to be cool. While you could argue that respect for the older generation is dying, it’s still accepted that the older you are, the more you most likely know (I mean, weren’t your parents right about a lot of stuff?). But, if you’re only in your 30s, you’re not going to get grouped with the wise folk yet. On the other hand, you’re not going to get grouped with the younger, cooler crowd either. So you’re just in some kind of gray limbo area that nobody thinks much of.
  4. You’re either rushing to have children or have already made up your mind not to. This doesn’t really apply to men because you guys have it easy. But for women, turning 30 means you only have so many opportunities left to have children. Doesn’t that thought just dominate your life? Aren’t all women in their 30s thinking about kids and rushing to find the right man to make a baby with? Psh no, because when you reach that age, you realize, screw kids. You can barely take care of yourself. 30 is the new 20, isn’t it?
  5. You have no social life. How could you? You’re working all the time and all of your free time is taken up by your partner and kids. Hanging out with your friends is a thing of the past, right? Wrong. Friendships in your 30s are just as important as they ever were, perhaps more so. The true blue ones that are still around are the ones who keep you sane.
  6. You have a successful career and make tons of money. When you’re in your 20s, you assume your 30s will be the decade of prosperity. You’ll have climbed the corporate ladder and will be snapping necks and cashing checks in your career. For some people, that’s true. For others, this progress takes a bit longer.
  7. Your body is deterioriating. When you’re in your 20s, you can still lie on the floor, jump on couches, and sit in all kinds of awkward positions without having to worry about getting up. But when you’re 30, the body aches start coming and you lose your flexibility, along with your metabolism and everything else that indicates youth. That’s why turning 30 is just game over, man. Of course, it’s not, really. Keep up a good diet and fitness regimen including stretching and you could make more fitness gains than ever before in your 30s.
  8. People in their 30s are in debt. At the laughable rate you’re paying off your massive student loan debt, you’re predicting that by the time you’re 30, you’ll still owe… nearly everything you owe now. And since you want to settle down, you’re probably going to make the silly decision to buy a house, spend your savings on the wedding of your dreams, or excessively use your credit card. Either way, your 30s will be drowned in debt because that’s just what 30-something-year-olds do, isn’t it?
  9. You still wish you were in your 20s. Because being older than that means you’re old and crotchety and life is on its way to ending to many people. Of course, that’s silly. More and more, women are realizing that we’re like a fine wine — we get better with age. It’s all about perspective. To be honest, I wouldn’t go back to my 20s if you paid me!
  10. People in their 30s are screwed. If you’re a twentysomething, you’re not looking forward to being a thirtysomething. Even though none of these points are necessarily the case for anyone, this is just what many people wrongly assume about the decade to come, and it’s why nobody looks forward to it. I mean, unless your 20s totally suck and you’re hoping you’ll do something magical with your life when you’re 30.

In the end, your 30s are just another decade full of the ups and downs of life. As you get older, you do indeed get wiser, so try not to fear the unknown and instead embrace it. Things only get better from here.

Chelsey is a freelance writer in NYC. She's pretty normal by today's standards, or at least that's what her mother tells her.