The Big 3-0

Today is my thirtieth birthday. The big 3-0. Despite the jet lag I'm ready to celebrate... but before the festivities kick off I have to admit that I've been having a bit of a wobble over this particular milestone. In truth, for the past few weeks, I've been totally freaked out.

After spending some quality time with old school friends, my mom, and a whole host of fabulous women at my best friend's wedding in London last week, it became clear that I'm not alone in this. Turning thirty is scary for women. And it's not a superficial fear of ageing keeping us up at night... It's that from this moment, for the first time, the life choices laid out ahead seem to represent a narrowing of possibilities rather than an opening up.

For those of us who spent our twenties in higher and higher education, travelling the world, finding our passions and refining our talents, it feels at thirty that adulthood - the part where life stops being an individual event and the foundations of careers and marriages are laid - is just beginning. But then it hits you. For the ambitious, free spirited daughters of bolshy mothers (who fought way harder for their place in this world than we'll ever truly know) thirty is when the realisation smacks us in the face that feminism doesn't trump biology. Yep, the turning thirty panic... it's all about babies. Because whether or not you definitely wanted kids in your twenties, and whether or not you're sure you want them now, we all had the luxury of putting that decision off until someday.(A position men would maintain for much much longer!) And when there's no more pretending that someday can't be all that far off... well... that sets off a whole chain reaction of questions and answers that boil down to this... will we, with our partners (if we're lucky enough to have a great one), get it all together in time to have our families? Will we really be able to have it all - careers, relationships, kids, and an adventurous life - in the end? And if not, which of those four could we be willing to sacrifice?

As daunting as they are to answer, these questions throw into sharp relief whether the choices we've made so far truly reflect the priorities we hold deep, deep down. This kind of reflection is tough, but in the end clarity is the greatest force for motivation. As far as I can tell that's the real gift of thirty. That and the fact that nothing is quite too late.

This post is longer and more personal than most on The Spring, but I do feel compelled to share these thoughts that have been so much at the forefront of my mind lately... And I'd really like to know... ladies... if you've already turned thirty, what aspects of that milestone weighed on you? If you're yet to exit your twenties, can you already relate?

Catherine Roberts