On Turning 30…

On Turning 30…

Written by Emilie

Topics: Birthday

I turned 30 today. It’s a big one, and I’ve been wondering these past few weeks why I don’t feel any sense of panic or a need to reevaluate my life and set major goals. That seems like the sort of thing one might do as they turn thirty…

I think the reason I don’t feel the need to shake things up, is that I’m already moving in a direction I’m happy with, one that I’ve put a great deal of thought into. So this “milestone” feels a little anticlimactic. But that’s okay, anticlimactic actually sounds pretty nice.

Instead of sharing my aspirations for my 30s (I write about my goals every year anyway), I thought it might be fun to look back on how far I’ve come.

The last decade was one of massive growth, as the 20s typically are. I spent the first five years destroying my health and the remaining five years building it back up to be stronger than it ever was.

I worked very hard to regain the self-esteem and confidence that I naturally had as a child, before those painful teen years and cultural expectations got in the way. I stopped hiding, stopped worrying about fitting in, and instead began featuring the things that make me unique.

I stopped following the beaten path and learned how to design my own smooshy career, support myself financially and I gained a sense that I was doing something meaningful. I challenged a lot of deeply-held beliefs, I experienced and overcame heartbreak and learned how to love even stronger. I told the world who I was, in various forms. I took action on projects, trudged on through criticisms, kept shipping.

Sometimes I forget these lessons and have to remind myself. Sometimes I have to re-learn these lessons altogether.

Some people are depressed about turning thirty. But every year of the last decade has gotten better and better, and I can’t wait to see where things go in the next ten years.

A very lovely April 3rd to you.

Your pal and fellow multipotentialite,


Your Turn

How were/are your 20s? How did you grow?


  1. Mindi Rosser says:

    I’m still in my 20s (age 27), but these past seven years have been radical for me. I left a religious cultic group at age 20, and it took me more than five years to recover from that experience and “discover” myself. Incredible journey!

  2. Conrad says:

    Happy birthday Emilie! We share the same birthday, I turned 40 today!

  3. Daria says:

    At 20 I was unhappy, depressed, shy and totally unconfident in myself. Since then I grew up, graduated, found a good job, learned a couple of languages, visited a lot of countries, met my first serious love, broke up and met a wonderful guy I’m together with now. At 25 I said to myself that I know what it means to be happy and I really meant it for the first time in my life, I earned self-confidence and realised how much I can do when needed. By 30 I’m totally sure that I can overcome whatever comes to my life, that doesn’t eliminate freak-outs from time to time or bad moods or accidental depressive days, but I see the light in the end.
    In Russia, where I live, 30 is an age of doom for a woman – society labels you as old. This attitude shifts gradually, but there’s still a long way to go. Despite this I feel much better at 30 that when I was 20, and I hope at 40 life will be even greater than it already is!

    • Emilie says:

      Hi Darla,

      Thanks for sharing! I don’t think that sense of “doom” at thirty is unique to Russia. It’s pretty pervasive here in America. I’m determined not to let it get to me though. It’s so ridiculous (not to mention sexist).

      Glad to hear you’re doing better and better with each passing year! :)

  4. Ela says:

    Happy Birthday! I think building a community, writing a great book and putting yourself out there are really amazing things and you should look back produly. (I may be inventing some words here but you know what I mean)

  5. Christopher says:

    Hmm, this is actually a very interesting moment the email arrived.

    I’ll explain, I’m not sure I@m a multipotentialite, from what I’ve read it sounds like all of them have a drive, a thirst, I have such but If I had to look at the seven deadlies and pick one for myself, its definatly sloth, I’m not sure if other potentialites have this budern themselves, having the potential, the want and the ability, but after a long night of deciding on enduring and striving to attempt those goals, find themselves being laid back the next morning about the whole thing after a long night of reflection.

    But I’ll give a breif look of my twentys leading up to now, I was in college in scotland learning to become an actor, I started from what i saw as the bottem and worked my way up, I performed in the plays which were chosen and I enjoyed myself to a great extent. I was never more confident and balanced than I was then, and when I look back, i was applauded for being the most hardworking, yet, I felt I hardly did, not that it was effortless but at the risk of being harder on myself, felt that there was more in the class deserving the title who put more work in than I.

    Since then, with a naieve choice (I apologise if the spelling of many things is wrong I’m actually leaving in a bit and don’t want to neglect typing this later while I still have the inclination and the mental fire to do so.) I decided to find what i saw as regular work rather than embarking on my acting career, thinking that I would start with a foundation of a small fortune before pursuing one (Later discovered one of my dreams, I think). Since then I have both fallen, yet risen far. My confidence isn’t as top notch, but I am more wordly, I was a kind givign person back then with little thought to myself, but now I help people more by holding a standard to myself. I am still unemployed aside from the occasional temporary job which is so infrequent that it probably is not worth noting in the ‘real’ life story I would wish to show to those closest and dearest if they should ever ask.
    But since those early 20’s to my current age of 27, maybe its because I’m an adult, or I’ve begun actually trying for my potential, now I have a security licence which I have three interveiws for, no experiance unfoarunatly but hopefully commonwealth games will change that if I get the jobs. Then focus on my acting as that is somethihng i have waited too long to do and want to see if it still gives me the love I gave it long ago.

    But the reason I have rambled somewhat long in this particular subject is I had forgotten I signed up to this website. I truly apreciate the email I received and the shared experiance that was imparted. And even though i really need to put my suit and tie on in 8 minutes to rush out the door to catch a train, I just wanted to say as someone who loves personal letters and personal emails, this has actually brightened my day. And reminded me there are others who are seeking their full potential. And believe me I could write for eons but I must go. I hope there are more fascinating and interesting storys than mine about to be shared due to this email.

    • Christopher says:

      Also Happy Birthday :)

      • Emilie says:

        Thanks for the birthday wishes, Christopher. And thanks for sharing!

        I don’t think you’re alone battling the resistance inside. I don’t always feel like getting up and go. Sometimes I even have to “trick” myself to work on my projects. But whether you are a multipotentialite or not, you are welcome here. :)

        Good luck with your interviews and have fun exploring acting again!

  6. Shane says:

    Hi Emilie,

    I am now twice 30 years old, and i have troubling remembering my 20’s – I travelled to Europe, spent 6 months just travelling around from France to Turkey, I met my wife (still married), I destroyed a heap of brain cells through alcohol (and other things) and arrived at my thirties deeply in debt, without a clear goal in life and with deteriorating health.
    At 37, I had a minor breakdown, get over it, then did the same things over again.
    At 58 I chose to give up my lucrative, but stressful job for personal reasons, I changed my diet, I changed my outlook on life and I changed my expectations.
    The result is a fitter (I walk 4-5 miles per day) leaner (and still working on losing weight) calmer version of me that seems to be enjoying life a bit more, and being enjoyed by those around him a bit more too.
    I guess the moral of the story (for me) is that anyone can change at any time in their life, all you have to do is want to change.
    Thanks for your emails, I enjoy reading them.
    All the best,

  7. Suresh says:

    Happy Birthday Emilie, I do not even have to wish anything for you because you are very good at figuring out what you want and how to get there. You are a big inspiration to me (and to most people here I suppose). I turned 30 almost a year ago. I am nowhere near the life I want to live and would not be happy if I get stuck in my current lifestyle. This is exactly why I look up to you and draw inspiration from you. You are not just living life the way you wanted to, you are also guiding people (like me) on what their life could be like if they could be more true to themselves. Thank you for doing what you do.

  8. Emily says:

    Happy birthday Emilie. And to all who’s birthday is today! 20 are far away from me but what I can say is I never worried about passing decades (with the notably exception of my 51 birthday which made me realize that I already lived a half century!). No regrets on anything are a guarantee for being happy each year (august 16 as far as I am concerned. Emily the Frenchy

  9. Oz says:

    Good for you that you like where you are and don’t feel compelled to make some major changes in life. When I turned 30, I was a grad student at Harvard and had been out of the Navy for 3 years. Life was good.

    As we get older, people close to us start dying at increased frequency. So, reflection happens in the face of our own mortality. Life may be great, but you think of a friend who died at the age of 33, and the last year of their life was all about their cancer.

    In a moment of reflection, we might ponder, “I’m 30. What if I had just 2 years left? Is there something significant that I’m putting off? Would I be ok with what I’ve accomplished up to this point?”

    • Emilie says:

      Absolutely. I’m terrified of death. But this has always been true and it (probably) always will be. I know it becomes increasingly more real, but that’s just a part of getting older. I’m very lucky that no one close to me has passed away. I’m also really lucky to have wonderful supportive people in my life, and to be alive in the first place.

      If I died in two years, I would be very bummed (there’s way too much I still want to do!) but I’d feel content about how I’ve lived my life and what I’ve accomplished up to this point.

      Thanks for your thoughts, Oz.

  10. Lauren says:

    My story is very similar to yours Emilie. I’ve come so far this decade, especially the last 2 years. I turn 29 next week and lately I’ve been feeling like I’ve found my path and all’s well, hooray! Have a wonderful birthday :)

  11. Pritesh says:

    How are you planning to celebrate birthday?

  12. Happy Birthday to one of the most wonderful person I met in the blogosphere! Indeed, you grew so much the past decade and we saw it here in Puttylike. Continue inspiring us to be who we are!

    More power to you Emilie :)

    Thank you for everything!

  13. Happy birthday Emilie!
    It’s great to read your emails, I really appreciate them.

    I just thought I’d share the fact that I quit my job last week, and am now living on my own terms. I haven’t yet figured out how I was going to pay the bills, but I have found a project that I love doing, more than I’ve loved doing anything else in the past.

    It’s the Montreal version of Humans of New York: http://www.portraitsdemontreal.com

    I’d been wanting to do this for a long time, and I’ve discovered a couple of blogs recently (yours included) that have convinced me to finally take the leap.

    So thank you, a million times, for Puttylike: it’s had a major impact on the decisions I made recently.

    All the best for your thirties, may they bring you more growth, joy and happiness.

    • Emilie says:

      Thanks so much, Mikaël. Congrats on quitting your day job! I really like your new project, and look forward to seeing it grow. Keep in touch.

  14. Karen says:

    Happy birthday!

    For me, my forties are turning into The Good Times. It turns out that the surrounding culture is terribly wrong about age: it tells us to panic, that ageing is an inevitable decline into pain and misery and loss of vigour and vim, when in fact it’s about growing confidence, greater understanding of yourself and those around you, and a greater ability to resist cultural pressure.

    I used to think I’d “lost” my youth to chronic illness, that not being able to do all the things other people did meant I was missing out (even though many of them were things that baffled me), and now I realise that I got a precious opportunity to live outside the mainstream, to increase my stores of empathy for those whose struggles were not readily visible, and to understand the concept of living in right relationship.

    If I’d been healthy as a horse, I’d have gone to uni, specialised myself into a corner, had kids who’d grow up seeing me stressed and unfulfilled, and probably found myself at 42 (where I am now) wondering what the meaning of life, the universe, and everything was if 42 was not it.

    In this life, though, I have dropped out of college and not died from it; been an immigrant; met a range of people I’d never have imagined I’d meet; explored a variety of options in life; and am turning into an adult my sister’s kids are comfy confiding in. And this is the year when it’s all coming together: a happier outlook, lots of meditation and a steady ditching of shame, a greater understanding of who and what I am, and a sense of possibilities opening up ahead of me.

    Each decade seems to me to be filled with its own hopes and wonders rather than something to worry about. I seem to be surrounded by people who see the next “big 0” birthday as something to dread; for me, it’s something to embrace. I reckon Jung was right: if you hit the 30-40 mark and embrace your inner wisdom and reject what is toxic around you, you grow increasingly happy and effective. Apparently, people who are 70+ are the happiest, most relaxed demographic.

    I remember 30. It was a good year in terms of mental health. And it’s been getting steadily better ever since. May your next 70-odd years be likewise.

    • Emilie says:

      Karen, thank you. This was so wonderful to read and so beautifully expressed. You really make me excited for the next several decades. :)

  15. DebbieB says:

    First of all, happy birthday! I find that, with each successive “Zero Year,” my life gets better. As I look forward to my 50th birthday in 2016, I am filled with anticipation. Like you, I learned a lot during my 20s. But all the money in the world couldn’t convince me to go back there again. Onward and upwards, always.

  16. Doug says:

    Happy birthday Emilie! I don’t remember what it was like to turn 30. I will be 59 in May so it it has been a while. My advice to everyone is this: your life is today, so live it today. Its not something that will magically happen a year from now, when you finish college, when you get married. Its today. Life is short as you may have heard. Your 30’s will go faster than your 20’s, your 40’s even faster, and your 50’s will fly by.

    Live your life, not the life someone else thinks you should live.

  17. Brian says:

    Happy Birthday Emilie!

    I’m really glad I stumbled upon this site as I feel it has put a brand new perspective on a lot of my own experience of life. I now think of my multiple interests as a real strength.

    I’m turning 30 this summer, and have been reflecting a ton on what my 20s taught me. For me it was also quite the roller coaster of ups and downs: I finished a degree in engineering; completely rejected said degree after feeling too boxed in; travelled a lot to experience “just being”; spent most of my energy on building relationships in my mid-late 20s; and finally have spent the last couple of years developing what seems likely to become a business of sorts. It’s only after reading this website that I realize what I’m building may very well be a “renaissance business”.

    I’m building custom motorcycles using my knowledge of engineering, combined with my passion for art and design. I’m not quite there yet, but I’m building it. Upon reflection, struggling through my 20s was integral to getting to where I am today.

    Here’s to turning 30!

    • Emilie says:

      Hey Brian,

      It’s great to meet you. Thanks for the birthday wishes!

      As someone who has rejected many boxes (law, was a big one), I can really relate to your journey through your twenties. I think your new business idea is smart and it definitely sounds like a Renaissance Business to me. I also really like the name and tagline of your website!

  18. Happy birthday Emilie, may you live with lots of joy, friendship and love! God bless.

  19. Rene says:

    Happy birthday, Emily! I’m over 40 now, and I can say that feeling old is overrated. I was hoping for some mid-life crisis fun and was sorely disappointed. What a downer. I just didn’t feel anywhere near old enough for it. :) Anyhow, I’m still working on getting my life organized and productive to my satisfaction myself, so it’s awesome that you’ve gone far in that direction! So, keep it up, and keep going forward!

  20. Helen says:

    Like a lot of people I suspect, my 20s were generally pretty hard-going – getting a degree, getting a good job, head down working most of the time, a big break up, disappointments, scary financial commitments, adventures and misadventures, a ropey relationship – but also some fun-times with friends & family between. My 30s were so much better – things fell into place, life got easier, I met the right man, abandoned the corporate career, had lots of fun. As Oz says above – life does tend to take away, as well as give, as you get older – but Karen’s comments about hopes and wonders also rings true. In your 30s you are, believe it or not, still young – but you are a wiser version of yourself. My bet is you will love this decade – happy birthday Emilie

  21. Josh says:

    That is so awesome what you’re saying about not regretting anything and moving forward. Thanks so much for your encouraging posts.

    As for the question, in my late 20s I pursued music much more seriously. But now that I’m in my 30s I’m way healthier, more active and confident in myself, and because I realized I only have so many days in life I hit the gas on moving forward. Yeah buddy!

    Happy b-day, Emilie. We could throw you a virtual party. Unfortunately the amount of people who’s lives you’ve touched wouldn’t fit into a google chatroom. :-)

    Later, JT

    • Emilie says:

      Aww you’re awesome, Josh. It’s been fun watching your evolution just in the few years I’ve known you, so I can only imagine. Hope to see you next time I’m in Portland!

  22. Saul says:

    Happy birthday! I think a lot of us in our generation can relate to this: actually having MORE fun/freedom/confidence as we grow older, not less.

  23. Heidi says:

    Happy Birthday! Personally, I LOVED turning 30 – like many, my 20’s were fraught with trying to figure out who I was, and there was something about turning 30 that just felt like… I don’t know, like I could just stop worrying about what other people thought, and just *be me*, you know?

    Like you, I’ve learned so many things in my journey – and forgotten those things, and re-learned them, and forgotten again. I think that’s just a normal part of the process; the path towards self-realization seems to be more of a spiral than anything else. I think the trick is make sure it’s an upward spiral ;)

  24. Danning says:

    Happy birthday, Emilie! My twenties is definately learning a lot of lesons and challenging beliefs I had held for so long since I was a kid. It is also when my self-esteem was hit the hardest and my emotional proems rear its ugly head. But I was surprised at one’s ability to heal oneself and grew more grateful for the things I have in my life.

  25. Lou says:

    Happy Birthday Emilie! I was really happy to read your story.
    During most of my 20s, I struggled a lot with frustration and low self-confidence, but they were also very funny years where I experimented a lot. Becoming 30 was not an easy time for me: I was about to finish my second university degree, which was not what I expected, and I was living in a foreign country, feeling an immigrant for the first time in my life. After one year trying to find a good job, I felt horrible. But then everything started to be easier, I found a job, met great people, had lots of fun learning new things, and I started to fit in my new “home”.

    Now I’m turning 34 soon and I’m feeling stronger than ever, so I’ve started to think bigger! I realized a short time ago that I’m a multipotentialite – thanks to you!!-, I’m about to quit my desk job and I’m really, really excited about my new life!
    I even dare to post here! in English! ;)
    Thanks a lot for your posts!

    • Emilie says:

      Woo hoo! That was so inspiring to read, thank you for posting Lou. :)

      Congrats on quitting your day job too. I’m so excited for you!

  26. Lori says:

    Happy Birthday, Emilie!!!

    I think most of my growing was done these last four years. Twenties? Passed those by about 15 years ago. I remember becoming very depressed when I turned thirty. I meant for turning forty to be very different, but that year I was battling cancer. I have something fun and amazing planned for turning 50. I hope to get everything in place over the next 4+ years.

    • Emilie says:

      Lori, you’re a huge inspiration to me. Seriously, whatever you’ve been through has turned you into who you are today, and that person is AWESOME. I have no doubt that your fiftieth will be stunning.

  27. Vita says:

    Happy Birthday! Can definitely relate

  28. Angela Witcher says:

    I started my 20s as a total mess, drinking, taking drugs and partying much too hard. I still managed to get a half decent degree and a great job in London where I partied even harder. At 25 I fell pregnant and had a massive lifestyle change. By 27 I had two children, no job and was trapped in a loveless marriage and suffering from major anxiety issues. At 28 I got back into performing, re-discovered my self-esteem and my identity and at 29 was studying for my Masters. By the time I hit 30 i was well and truly ‘back in action’ with my own small theatre company, some good performance credits and a new degree – an ambitious, independent single Mum. That year I also dated someone on the ‘hot batchelors’ list and became SHE magazines ‘juggler of the year’ for juggling my life and keeping everything up in the air. At the end of my 30th year I met the love of my life and I am still with him now.

  29. Elena Frank says:

    Happy birthday Emilie!!!
    I’m turning 29 in some weeks and I’m terrified… I know who I am and what I want but I still don’t know if I’ll ever get to live my true life…

  30. Em says:

    Late Happy Birthday!

    I must admit, when you said you spent the first half destroying your health, I felt a bit relieved :D I love to follow inspiring people like you but sometimes it makes me feel depressed if they are too perfect, too inspiring, they have always known what to do etc. It’s good to find out that your mentor in your age still had some flaws.

    I really wish to be at similarly happy point as you are now when I’m turning 30 in 5,5 years (O-M-G! It’s so close :D). Right now I can imagine plenty of things that make me feel good but I still don’t see the perfectly right direction to take. I feel like I’m kinda walking in a good direction but I’m blind, don’t see what’s ahead and I’m not really sure it’s the perfect way. I guess I’ll have to just walk it and see.

  31. Raffy says:

    A belated Happy Birthday to you, Emilie, from the other side of the world!

    Thank you for setting up this website and letting it serve as an anchor/lighthouse for me whenever I feel lost and trying to see if I am really a multipod.

    I’ll be turning 25 in July and I’ll be celebrating my first year in my first “real” job the following month.

    I’m approaching the end of my first life (like that SMBC comics says), and I am already getting scared of what will happen in this next one. Will I be born into it kicking and screaming, with the tools and resources necessary to flourish, or just a stillborn ghost of my past life? There’s no clear answer but I hope time will soon tell all.

    Hopefully I’ll be able to break out of this rat race known as the corporate world and finally find something that makes me want to wake up in the morning. Or perhaps build one if the need arises.

    Anyway, best of luck to you, Emilie, and may you have all the time in the world to do everything that you want to do!

  32. Lakshmi says:

    Hi Emilie,

    Many very belated returns of the day!

    Puttylike is an inspirational blog just as you are. I have passed on the site link to many of my friends.
    Ironically, there were so many multipotentialites or polymaths in history, such as Leonardo da Vinci. He was April-born, too (April 15, though that would be according to the old calendar). I have been reading up on him and he is a beacon.

    About my 20s, like many people, I crossed some major milestones – graduating from college, entering the workforce in the software industry, learning a lot, meeting my husband, emigrating to the US, learning to drive:), making lots of new friends and constantly wondering, “What career should I really be in?” I also started my blog in my 20s.

    I am in my mid-30s now and I tell all my younger friends – the 30s are one of the most amazing decades in your life. You will truly explore your own identity and grow.
    When I hear 20-somethings talking about older 30+ folks, I wonder what the big deal is.
    There is a huge difference between a 1-year-old and 4-year-old, but not much of a difference between a 28-year-old and 32-year-old.
    Each decade is rewarding in its own way.

    I hope you have terrific thirties and many more amazing decades to come!

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