So here we are. Twenty nine. The last of the twenty-something birthdays. This time next year I’ll be 30, waking up to a brand new chapter sprawling out ahead of me. It’s funny - we place so much importance on those birthdays with a zero on the end of them, but I can’t really remember how I felt when I turned 20. A quick Facebook scroll has just reminded me that I celebrated the arrival of a new decade with a very boozy pub crawl. So boozy in fact that I ended up in A&E with a split eye - not my finest hour. Thankfully, that little mishap wasn’t an omen for how the rest of my twenties would work out.
7 months after that little tumble I would meet the man who is now my husband. 18 months into that fresh new decade I would graduate from uni and start a career that has taught me so much. And somehow, 9 years later, here I am, so far removed from that tipsy student falling over outside the pub.
It would be easy to look back at those past 9 years and simplify them into one seamless upward trajectory. From the outside it surely looks like my twenties have been pretty smooth sailing - I fell in love with a boy, made a home with him and got married, all while enjoying a career that has gone from strength to strength.
But the truth is that each of those big steps and milestones has been hard won, fraught with anxiety and stress and sheer hard work. That’s the part that you don’t always see from the outside, and that’s why your twenties can often feel so frustrating and disheartening. It can seem like every single day comes with a big Facebook announcement from friends and peers, but you don’t often get to peek behind the curtain and see how hard they’ve had to work, or the stress that they’ve had to go through, to get to that point.
A friend asked me the other week if I was scared about turning 30 next year. I always thought that I would be - when society teaches us that the most valuable thing us women have is our youth, it’s only natural to feel a little bit apprehensive about getting older. But the truth is that no, I’m not scared. Because if my twenties have taught me anything (and believe me, there have been a lot of lessons), it’s that the best is yet to come.
I look back on those first few years of my twenties and instead of pining for the wild nights out and the hedonistic holidays, I feel empathy for the young girl who was racked with insecurities, constantly trying to meet everybody else’s expectations. Every single twenty something birthday has brought with it more confidence, more security, and more happiness, and from what my friends tell me, it only gets even better in your thirties.
And so, I’m excited. I’m ready to make this final year of my twenties the very best one - not because I have huge plans or bucket list items to tick off before the big 3-0, but because I’m finally in a place where my life looks something like I always dreamed it would. So much of my twenties have been spent planning for the future or yearning for the past, but right now, I feel like I can finally just enjoy the present and feel grateful for everything in my life.
So, bring it on 29. I’m sure you’ve got a few lessons and tricky times up your sleeves, but I know that you’ll also be filled with love and growth and joy and memories made with my favourite people. I hope you’ve remembered the champagne...