Thoughts on 30

January 11, 2007 | 27 comments

This weekend I turn thirty. I’m working on a post about how I feel about that, but with my very limited free time it might end up being a post about how I feel about turning 31. πŸ™‚

In the meantime, I’d like to get some thoughts and advice from you readers:

– For those of you who are over thirty, what advice do you have for me? Is there anything you wish you’d done differently, things you wish you’d known, improvements in your life or yourself that you wish you’d made at this point in your life?

– For you twenty-somethings, what do you hope your life is like when you’re thirty? What are your goals? Is there something you hope to have resolved, or a big goal you want to accomplish?

These questions are only thoughts off the top of my head, feel free to just think out loud. Rambling, stream-of-consciousness comments welcome!


  1. Big Tex

    Just turned 30 a little more than a month ago (same day as Mrs. Darwin’s b-day). It ain’t all that bad. On the one hand, you look at the number and say “Wow…” Then parents start saying, “Wow, I can’t believe we’re the parents of a 30-year-old.”

    I’d have to say I’m content with my life thus far. I’m married with three beautiful children (so-far). I have a rewarding job.

    I find being 30 something of a relief. With any age, there exist certain stereotypes with your behavior or lifestyle. I would have to say my lifestyle choices reflect more of 30+ stereotype (married, parent, etc…). I recall when my wife and I were engaged, one of my coworkers at the time told me, “Ray! You’re so young! 25? That’s too young to get married. You need to go out there and sow some wild oats or something. Wait ’til you’s about 30 to get married.”

    If only I had listened to that guy… LOL.

  2. Justine

    Belated Happy Birthday! The only advice I can offer you is to stay close to God and continue to let Him guide you. From reading your blog (I went all the way back to the very first post) I think you are doing quite well. Best of everything to you and your family in the new year!

  3. Kiwi Nomad 2006

    30…. my golly gosh that seems sooooo long ago! Enjoy your day!!!

  4. Adoro Te Devote

    Well, I’m 32, dreading 33, because it means I’m getting older.

    I always thought I’d be:

    * getting married around 30 (NOPE! Still single and no possiblities anywhere even shadowing the horizon!)

    * Established in a career (Sort of…got a career…hate every minute of every hour down to ever milisecond, begging for mercy, stomach in knots…..realizing I’m at a dead end and I’m not dead yet…IS THERE MORE TO LIFE THAN THIS!???? ) Almost put in my two weeks today…please pray for me. I don’t have anywhere else to go, but I can’t keep doing this!

    * Homeowner – Yup, got that one…crappy townhome, now regretting the decision because it’s the only thing that keeps me from quitting my job..that and my 2 dogs.

    * Dogs – yup, a home is not a home without pets…so I keep my job also because of dogs

    * Own a horse…well, not that one either, but I haven’t given up hope. I’ve learned this is an attainable dream, but it’s on God’s time.

    But here’s the biggest thing: 30 isn’t a big deal. It doesn’t mean anything. Time is only what we make it. We can have all the agendas in the world, but in the end, who do we answer to? Not ourselves, not to society, not to bad Managers, no one. We answer to God…and we have to remember that He’s in charge, He’s got our backs. He’s got the hours and the days and the seconds and the years…and it’s all gone in the blink of an eye.

    I remember my Mom showing me a horse for the first time…one of my earliest memories. I remember anticipating kindergarten. I remember elementary school, Moving to MN, Jr. High, a near-suicide, a parent’s death, college graduation, running my first race, winning my first silver downhill medal, the birth of my cousin now pregnant herself….and it all goes on and on. And it’s just gone in a flash. Now I’m 32, I have gray hair, I am nowhwere near the “Golden child” I thought I would be by this age. I graduated college early, was seen as a “Super Senior” because of it, but it was really my law enf training one summer. Which reminds me…that was the realization of a dream that tanked, then a few others since then, and now complete and utter stagnation and professional desolation.

    But God is in charge, he was there through it all and He’s right here right now. Age isn’t that imporant, and just now, I’m beginning to udnerstand the “biological clock”, realizing that if I am called to marriage, I have precious few years left to have children, and I’m still not certain if I want any…but if I do find someone to marry, then that’s in God’s hands, too. But the thought of missing a Vocation is now more terrifying to me than anything else.

    In your 30’s you look back on the life you HAD, the life you HAVE, and you pray for the future you MIGHT HAVE if you have finally obtained the sense that God wants to give you.

    So here’s the prayer, straight from Padre Pio’s dear heart to your own:

    “To your mercy, Lord, I entrust my past, To your Love, I entrust my present, and my future, to your Providence.”

    Let THAT be your anthem. Nothing else matters.


  5. Tim

    Adoro Te Devote- that was an excellent post. I really enjoyed it and can relate.

    Jen- I turned 40 a few months back, so I have no sympathy for you. πŸ™‚

    Although I’m a cradle Catholic, I only really took interest in my faith and started participating in a relationship with the Lord when I was in my early 30s. I spent most of my 20s working during the week, and then driving on weekends down to NYC to party with my buddies. I spent most of my 30s working, and almost every breathing moment outside of work volunteering with my parish’s HS youth ministry.

    When I compare those 2 decades of my life (you know you’re getting older when you can compare decades), my 30s blow my 20s out of the water. And the reason is very obvious to me. In my 20s I had no real purpose – just to have as much fun as I could. In my 30s, my faith and my love for God gave me purpose. And God pushed me to express that faith by hanging out with and witnessing to teens, and sharing my gift of “immaturity.” And this was even more satifsfying because I believe I was fulfilling my purpose by following the Lord’s call.

    How I wish I could go back and “unwaste” my 20s. I can’t. Oh, I have some great memories, and some great friends from that time, but overall it was not a decade well spent – there was little substance. My 30s were filled with substance (spiritual growth, investing in the spiritual growth of others, moving focus off of me and onto God), and as a result, much more satisfying – both while I was experiencing them, as well as when I reflect back on them.

    So my advice is to keep doing what you’re doing. Keep searching, keep asking, keep sharing, keep growing . . . keep your focus on God and His plan, His guidance, His righteousness, and I think you will be very pleased when you reach your next decade milestone.

    Happy Birthday!


  6. Professor Chaos

    I’ll be 29 in April, but after that I’m no longer recognizing any birthdays. I’ll never know what it’ like to be 30, because I’m planning on staying 29.

  7. Adoro Te Devote


    I stopped having birthdays at 26. But apparently someone didn’t get the message because I have line where there should be none, I am beginning to resemble the rest of my extended family….and a nice silver Elvira-streak is growing without permission from my part.

    I wish you luck with your idea…it’s a nice one, but speaking from experience…make sure the memo goes all the way up or you’re stuck.


    I’m beginning to feel old. πŸ™

  8. Anna

    When I was 29 I had a lot of fun telling everyone that it was the last year that I was allowed to admit how old I was but really turning 30 is no big deal. My mother had her 5th child when she was 30. On the other hand my grandmother had her 1st when she was 30, went on to have 4 more and she is now 86 and still enjoying life.

    It is all relative. I tend to feel young because I had my first child at the age of 23. Since most people nowadays don’t start a family until they are in thier 30s, the mothers of my sons friends tend to be a lot older than me.

    What makes me feel old isn’t my birthdays. What makes me feel old is realizing that my kid sister is now 26 my baby brother is a teenager and the kids I used to babysit in highschool are finished highschool and in University now. I don’t mind growing older but everyone else is supposed to stay the same.

  9. Sarah

    Happy b-day! I turned 30 on Wed., and broke my arm. So my advice to you, as a fellow just-turned-30’er, is to be careful coming down steps. πŸ™‚

    I would rather be 30 than not. I can’t help but reflect on how many blessings I have, ones that I wouldn’t have if I was only 25. I am looking forward to 40 and 50 and 60. Bring em on! Why are we so negative about the joy experience brings us?

    I’m working on a post about this too, but now that my arm’s broken, typing is a bit more…painful. πŸ™‚ Happy birthday again!

  10. Mike J

    Happy birthday dear Je-ennnnnn. Happy birthday to you.

    I do want to say more, but the morning rush is upon me.

    Cool posts so far. I enjoyed the reading.


  11. Darwin

    When I turn 30… I’ll stop lying about my age.

    People I deal with on a business basis tend to assume that I’m over 30 anyway, since I’ve got pictures of my three kids up. And I’ve been working hard to work along with the assumption since being a 20-something seems like a recipe for not being taken seriously.

    Two more years to go, though… πŸ˜›

  12. eric

    33 here. I’m less worried about my temporal age and more worried about when I’ll grow up, both in faith and love. Then again, I have to say that now that I’m getting old πŸ˜‰

  13. Kiwi Nomad 2006

    Actually, I just remembered that I grew some ‘wisdom’ right about when I turned 30. My parents had both died and for years I had erected a ‘wall’ around things I could not think about. Not that I knew that. Right about when I hit 30, I had to say ‘goodbye’ to a close friend. I realised I was plummeting into a kind of ‘depression’ that might take me several months to get through. I also realised I had a pattern of having done this three previous times under similar circumstances. I got some counselling that turned out to be grief counselling, the key event being the ‘first’ death, that of my father, who I had not said ‘goodbye’ to properly. After only about eight sessions, I had dealt with what needed dealing with. I now suffer ‘goodbyes’ in a more ‘normal’ way.

    I guess the point of this somewhat serious post is that 30 is wonderful… you get old enough to get some wisdom!

  14. tar

    I turned 30 some days ago (on the 24th December), and I can’t tell you much about being 30. I know what I wanted/hoped my life to be when I got to 30:

    – I wanted to be married and already with 2 or 3 children (I would love to have 4 to 6 children): Nope, and no-one in sight too πŸ™

    – To have a nice, fulfilling job, that used my talents to something good and helped me pay life’s necessities: Not really. I have a part-time job which I like doing but pays very low salary, with no prospects of career or promotion. My graduate (PhD) studies went terribly wrong, and I will probably get just a lousy MSc from 7 years of work (I was not allowed to keep doing my PhD after 5 years of research, so if I wanted to still get some degree out of it, it was the MSc or nothing). I will start looking for a job as soon as I finish my dissertation. I have no idea what kind of job.

    – I wanted to have a house of my own (rented or bought): I share a house with 2 other girls.

    On the other hand, when I was 20 there were things I never dreamed would happen and that were the best things in my 20’s decade:

    – I converted to Christianity (when I was 21).

    – I came back to Catholic Church (when I was 25, almost 26).

    – I found a wonderful parish with a lovely, spiritually rich, community, even though I told God I would be faithful to my local parish, no matter if it was a “boring” one (I feel ashamed).

    – I have found a small group of wonderful friends in whom I trust.

    I can relate to Adoro’s fear of “missing a vocation”, as I am almost certain that God calls me to be a wife and mother, so I cannot understand how will that be, as I am already 30 and things don’t seem to be going that way. But the balance of this decade that ended is a positive one: I entered my 20’s as a pagan who secretly worshipped Satan and the nature, and did not trust people. I left my 20’s as a confirmed Catholic who is finally learning to trust, to make friends, to live faith in community, and to serve. God has been good to me.

  15. SteveG

    Like Mike J, not a ton of time to post, but wanted to say Happy BDay!!

  16. Kiwi Nomad 2006

    Goodness gracious me Darwin…. I hate to admit it, but I am old enough to be your mother!!!!!!! What a youngster you are!!!!

  17. Stephanie

    Happy Birthday!! Today is my husband’s 29th, so next year will be a biggie for him…my only hope is that we conceive before his 30th (I’m 24, so I’m ok for the moment, lol) because I think it might be hard on him if that hasn’t happened yet.

    As for me, I really hope we have kids (plural) by the time I’m 30, it’s always been our dream to have a large family, and it’s been tough trying for a year with no results.

    See a common theme, lol?

    I have to add, though, that I am extremely blessed in my life with a wonderful husband and I am so glad to have found the Catholic Church relatively early in life. Thanks be to God! πŸ™‚

  18. SteveK

    I’m 43. I loved my 20’s and 30’s and continue to love my 40’s. The mind just keeps getting better and better and that’s what I love about it. Of course the body starts falling appart, but with some effort that too can be managed.

    Advise: Collecting/buying a lot of “stuff” brings more misery than joy. I know this from experience and so did King Solomon. Too much stuff means you spend all your time & energy working to earn money just so you can maintain it and protect it so all that stuff won’t turn to junk. Better to live simply and enjoy the people in your life.

    Corollary: Do work to live. Don’t live to work.

    Oh, and Happy Birthday.

  19. Mike J

    Just a quick word because of your grad school woes. Hope Jen won’t mind.

    I had to bail from grad school short of my PhD. I got out with an MS. I was not too happy about it at the time.

    Got out. Got a good job in “the real world”. Years later I’m soooo happy I did NOT get the PhD. Most folks I’ve know with PhDs are practically forced to climb the corporate ladder. But I and other sub-PhDs are free to do the work we love and trained all that time in grad school to do. If BS/MS types want to climb the ladder, they can.

    So don’t sweat it too much. Learn all you can. Learn how to do a good job search. Then treat your boss as if he/she were the all-wise ruler of the galaxy.

    Hope all goes well for you.

  20. Mike J

    I must say that I remember 40 better. 30 seems so long ago.

    That was the year that I first needed reading glasses. β€˜Twas very strange for one who had been accustomed to slightly better than 20/20 vision.

    At that time I was married and had one child.

    I was just getting started in grad school and looking forward to being Dr. J. πŸ™‚

    On reflection at the time my childhood had been pretty normal, my teens had been tumultuous and mostly stupid, and my 20’s had been a decade of great things.
    In my 20’s I:
    -had gone to college
    -courted and married the girl of my dreams
    -worked a number of jobs culminating in my entry to the world of science
    -gotten two degrees of black belt and gotten a little bit into some secondary arts
    -obtained my BS plus an additional certification and gotten accepted into grad school
    -learned a lot about and grown in my faith
    -been in church choir for a few years
    -made some great friends
    -done all sorts of crazy things (but not many really stupid ones)
    -had my first child.

    All in all a very good decade. (It’s fun to reflect on all that. I thoroughly enjoyed most of my 20’s. Hope you can say the same Jen.)

    Looking forward to my 30’s I expected to:
    -get a PhD (nope, just an MS it turned out)
    -get two more degrees of black belt (just one, plus a lot of other experience)
    -have 1 or 2 more kids (3 as it worked out)
    -start a career (did that)
    -continue in the faith (did that through the decade)
    -enjoy the girl of my dreams and grow closer to her (You betcha!)
    -learn to be a good dad (I think I did OK. Thanks in large part to the girl of my dreams.)
    -experience things that I could not anticipate (Whoa brother did I ever.)
    -survive to 40+ (Whew! Pulled that one off.)

    Looking back it was a tumultuous decade in many ways but not due to great stupidity thank goodness. And one thing I had no clue about happened. I started growing up again (having stopped at around 13). This I now know is common in human males. πŸ™‚

    The 30’s were a great decade, though mostly quieter than the 20’s. I enjoyed them too. Hope you’ll say the same 10 years from now Jen.

    Thanks for the opportunity to walk down Memory Lane a little. A very Happy Birthday to you.

  21. Renee

    I will be 30 in March. I’ve notice how irrelevant I am to popular culture. It seems you’re not important again until you’re 60 and a member of AARP. Since so wrapped up in career, family, or both a person has time for nothing else. With all of our income devoted to mortgages, school loans, and neccesities there is no disposable income for companies to market junk to us. Which is actually nice.

    I was at my parents watching cable (I don’t have it), and I was watching MTV. I have to ask when did MTV stop playing music videos? I spent two hours straight watching “My Sweet Sixteen”. When my daughter turns 5 this year I’m buying her an MP3 player. It isn’t for her, but for me so I can figure out how it works.

  22. Professor Chaos

    Do work to live. Don’t live to work.

    Well said my friend!

  23. eileen

    Happy birthday!

    I am almost exactly a decade older than you are so I am soon facing a similar change.

    You have gotten some great comments here. I just have two things to add.

    Even though your children are so young, I would suggest you may want to start looking into your options concerning their education. The bulk of my time and energy in my thirties was directed toward the education of my children. The biggest change I faced was our relocation, husband’s career change and accompanying financial changes that occurred as a result of seeking an appropriate educational setting for our children. This was and continues to be a challenging issue for us and many of our friends. Thankfully, you still have several years to think about this.

    Another thing to mention is that in your thirties you can get so busy with raising children, careers, building financial stabilty, etc. that your relationships with friends and family can become so peripheral that you end up with a lot of “Christmas card only” relationships. This can happen even with family and it is awkward and difficult to try to reconnect after many years of distance. I wish I had invested more in a few chosen relationships that would have lasted through having kids, kids growing up, relocation, and all the other changes at this time of life.

    Putting your energy into your faith and family, as you have been doing, seems like the best way to move into your thirties and I wish you many blessings.

  24. Jerret

    Happy birthday.

    I don’t have much to add to the conversation, since I’m so young.

  25. fatty ~

    In 12 years time, i’m going to have kids.

    I’m going to do a lot of things by then, but it’s easier to imagine where i want to be at 70 then 30.

    [at 70 i’m going to be eccentric, and have purple hair, no question about that]

  26. Kiwi Nomad 2006

    Don’t wait to be 70 to be eccentric… be radical and do it now!!!

  27. Slick

    Happy Belated Birthday!

    Don’t have much in the way of advice from this side… I’m not quite up to 30 yet, but I still try to live acording to stevek’s corollary… I like to enjoy living.

    I guess you could say this is my delurking comment as well.

Connect With Me On Social Media or Explore My Site



The "THIS IS JEN" podcast is on Facebook & all podcast apps


- SubscribeΒ on iTunes or Google Play (audio)

- Get weekly bonus episodes on Patreon

- Sign up for my email list to be the first
to know about new tour dates