I’m about to turn thirty. I’ve been saying that, with increasing degrees of panic, since I turned twenty-six, but now it’s just ’round the corner – on Saturday.
That’s right. In a few days, I will have been alive a full three decades and will be starting on my fourth.
I’m still not sure it’s fully sunk in yet, but I’m at least freaking out less.
Part of me knows the angst surrounding getting older is nonsense. Numbers are arbitrary and nothing can be done about them anyway, so what’s the fuss? That’s the logical part of my brain. The illogical part is hiding in a cupboard somewhere weeping. So long as it’s not at the forefront right now, I don’t mind so much.
Socially speaking, I think the pressure put on women, in particular, to stay young (or, at least, stay looking youthful) is fascinating (not to mention entirely unfair and infuriating), but I’m not going to get into that here. It’s a discussion I’ve subjected my husband to several times already, and you clicked on this post to read about the misspent years of my twenties. I wouldn’t want to disappoint, so here’s a bullet-pointed list.
- Ten years ago, way back in March 2009, I was living in Lincoln and had been for about a year and a half. I was nearing the end of my second year at university and swiftly coming to terms with the fact that I had picked entirely the wrong course. Despite uncertainty over what to do next, however, I was fairly happy. I had a good social life and was living in a decent place. 2009 was the year I met my best friend and was, up until more recently when I found love, one of the happiest years of my life.
- 2010, by comparison, was hell. I go into some of what happened in the post linked here, but the short version is that my life fell apart and I had a breakdown. After several incredibly difficult months, I graduated with a Certificate of Higher Education and left Lincoln with my tail between my legs.
- In the year following the return to Northern Ireland – September 2010 to Sept. 2011 – I failed to find a job but used my free time developing my writing. A particular highlight during that year was a weekend break to Edinburgh for a writing event. Despite not getting the feedback on my novel that I wanted, that trip was a much-needed breath of fresh air and a turning point in my literary exploits. (More on that here.)
- At various points during 2010 and 2011, I volunteered at a number of events as a children’s worker and it was this that finally led to me getting an internship with a church in Oxford doing more of the same. A year to the day I left Lincoln, I packed my bags and boarded a plane back to England for a fresh start. This went swimmingly for a solid few months until the end of the year. Again, what happened next is a sorry tale that I go into more detail elsewhere but, to summarize, by the time my next birthday rolled around (March 2012), I was back in Northern Ireland, once more jobless and horribly depressed.
- Once more, I returned to my writing. 2012 was the year I joined my writers’ group and, in doing so, made some local friends. It was the year I self-published a book for the first time.
- In 2013, after a brief work placement with a radio station, I got myself a “normal” job in a call centre. The training for this went well and I was really enthusiastic. I love helping people, so customer service sounded right up my street, and a proper wage wouldn’t go amiss either. This was fine, in theory, until I discovered the call centre was more focused on sales than actually resolving anyone’s issues. The pressure gradually built and the hours wore me down until I could not function for stress.
- So, between the nightmare job, a great deal of time spent working for free, and lack of other opportunities, I went freelance. I wasn’t at all ready to go freelance, but I didn’t know that so I didn’t let it stop me. I learned as I went and got a side-gig of my own radio show at the station previously mentioned.
- 2014 was fairly quiet for me. I plugged away at building up the skills I needed to be self-employed and, around September time, found a boyfriend after a long spell of being alone and lonely. That relationship lasted two months and ended in tears. The less said about it, the better.
- What did 2015 have in store? Well, not far into it, I met the man who turned out to be the love of my life and, about five months into that relationship – later that same year – we were engaged.
- In 2016, a year to the day Steve and I first started talking, I got out of my hometown for the last time and we moved in together. Exactly one year on from then, in February 2017, we got married.
- 2018 was the year I finally finished writing a novel of (I’m told) decent quality. After several years of writing, I stood a good chance of realising my dream of getting [traditionally] published.
That’s where I’m pretty much at now: in a place of opportunity, hoping to god that my thirties will be a lot less rocky than my twenties.