Recently, a lot of people on my Twitter and Facebook feeds have been talking about age. There's a YouTuber that I'm a big fan of who's turning 29 tomorrow and, seeing as he has many young fans, there's been a lot of chatter along the lines of: "Oh my God, he's getting old... He'll be THIRTY next. That's so scary. I mean, 29??!! How can he be that old, already??!"
I'd go on, but I don't know what else was said, because by that point, I was too busy hitting my 33 year old head against a wall, to try to knock the stupidity out of my mind.
Listen to Batman, guys.
Listen, here's the thing. I get it. when you're 15, of course 29 sounds old. When you're 15, 30 seems a lifetime away (because it literally is, when you think about it). I know that and I understand that. But it does seem like a stupid thing to say, all the same.
I mean, think about it. These days, people are living longer. It's not uncommon for people to live well into their 80s and 90s. That is old. Your late twenties and early thirties? Please, that's not even middle-aged.
Anyway, as is my usual habit, I had a bit of a rant about this on my Facebook/Twitter page and I was surprised when a few of my younger friends started saying how much they were dreading turning 30. The general consensus (mainly amongst my "20-something" friends, it should be said) was that thirty is a big, scary number and that you have to be a grown up by then. It's considered old.
And I laughed and I laughed and I laughed and... You get the gist.
Pictured: me and my fellow 30-something friends. I'm in the middle, obviously.
I'll level with you, dear reader. I did have a wobble about turning 30. But it had utterly nothing to do with feeling old, or being closer to death or any other such nonsense. It was purely because I knew that I hadn't achieved the stuff I had always expected to have achieved by the time I reached my 30th; I wasn't married, I didn't have kids and I didn't have my own place. It was basically because society dictates that your life will follow a set path and if yours deviates for any reason, you start feeling set-apart from those around you and it can be quite a depressing sensation.
I got over my wobble with a decision to celebrate my thirtieth by going on a trip to Alton Towers with my sister, her partner and my closest friends. I made "Emma's 30th Birthday Trip" tops for everyone and my best friend got me a Breakfast At Tiffany's themed cake. Frankly, I kicked turning 30's ass.
The thing is, once I realised that turning 30 didn't actually mean I had to have achieved all that stuff otherwise I'd have failed at being a human, I was absolutely fine about the whole thing. In fact, I was more than fine. How cool was it that I was entering a whole new decade?! I could leave any crap from my 20s behind and turn over an entirely new leaf. Suddenly, 30 wasn't a big, scary number; it was an opportunity to start afresh.
More importantly, getting older - the non-physical side, at least - isn't scary, either. Not if you look at it from a different perspective. I tend to think of myself - my body, my self-confidence, who I am as a person - as a pair of very skinny jeans that I've had for a long time. Back in my teens, they were still pretty new and tight and not that comfortable. In my 20s, they started to give a little, but I still walked a bit funny. Now that I'm in my 30s, they suddenly feel like they fit properly. I can do more than just walk in them; I can dance in them.
Life takes you on a journey, from the moment you're born to the minute you shuffle off your mortal coil. Where you go on that journey is at least in part up to you. Sometimes the view changes, sometimes you're in a tunnel and you feel like your signal to the rest of the world has been cut off and sometimes you end up in the very last place you expected, but the whole time, you're still moving forwards. You can't help but learn and grow as you go along, so it's kind of inevitable that at some point, you're going to feel as though you've adapted to the journey and you'll unbuckle your metaphorical seat belt and feel free to move around the cabin...
...I know what I mean, but it's highly questionable that anyone else does, at this point in the proceedings. Basically:
I'm 33. I don't feel old. I still go to theme parks, get drunk much too quickly, form crushes on people I will either never meet or at least never have, say utterly stupid things, have utterly stupid dreams, fangirl like a crazy person, play games, do party-dances at Butlin's, splurge my money on pretty shoes and just a moment ago, someone on TV mentioned the composer Ravel and I immediately pretended to ice-skate like Torvill & Dean, whilst humming "Bolero." Because I'm effortlessly cool.
And that's the thing. I may make little jokes about myself, but I do it because I'm comfortable in my own skin, now. More so than I ever was in my teens or twenties.
The beauty of getting older is that you slowly start to accept that you'll never have perfect hair, or that you'll always have a nose that people could take shelter under when it rains. You just learn that you're you and you're the only version of you that exists, so you may as well make the most of it.
Basically, I've realised that being a "grown up" doesn't mean that you're necessarily married, with a couple of kids and a white picket fence. It doesn't mean that you have to be earning loads of cash and that you give up any hobbies that might be thought of as stereotypically "childish." Being a "grown up" just means that you accept who you are and you do your best to accept everyone else for who they are, too. It's about letting go of silly little concerns that you're not cool enough and just embracing your inner nerd. It's about those skinny jeans fitting at long last.
Blimey. On that basis... I think I might actually be a grown up, despite feeling no self-inflicted pressure to act like one 100% of the time.
Anyway, enough of this. I'm off to paint my nails with bright pink glitter, whilst searching for funny dog-related gifs, like the fully functioning adult I am.