Today is my 30th birthday. While I have spent the last few months dreading this moment, it arrived today just like any other morning; peaceful with the acceptance that I age the same as everybody else and age is well a truly ‘just a number’. I think it’s only natural to fear a big birthday. 30 is the first big birthday you have as a fully fledged adult because let’s admit it, we don’t know what we’re doing when we’re 18 or 21. 30 can also be a very daunting age, the next big birthday is 40 and after all, in reality, a lot could be dictated in this next decade of life such as marriage and children. As much as I’d like to deny it and continue living my carefree life, the reality is that women have a ‘clock’ and while I have no burning desires to bare children as it stands, I am still aware that that clock is slowly ticking away in the background.
I’m ready to enter my 30’s looking to that future, whichever way it may take me. I’m entering this decade with a very different mindset to the one i entered my 20’s in and if I’m being honest, I have never felt more content, more at peace with the person I am.
10 years ago, I was a very confused, very lost person. I felt isolated, friendless, prospect-less. I was an adult but I lacked direction. I had maturity but it was unruly and lacked any form of self awareness. I was still suffering from the effect of my family unit’s sudden deconstruction that had happened 5 years previous, my sister was still missing and my Mum was doing everything in her power to support us and live her own life free from violence and abuse.
When I was 19, following some CBT sessions and the correct cocktail of antidepressants, I’d decided to try and better myself and work toward getting into university. Inspired by ‘One Born Every Minute’, I decided I wanted to become a midwife (oh, what a cliche) and following my successful application, I was on an Access to Higher Education course for healthcare. While on that course, I quickly realised that midwifery was not for me and that perhaps nursing was a more appropriate route to take for a rewarding career in healthcare. I worked hard on that course. I studied while working part time in a butchers, I’d walk 8 miles home to save on bus fares which helped fund towards my first laptop and for the first time since leaving school, I felt like I had a future outside the box like council estate I felt confined to.
My Mum was my biggest inspiration and motivator. I did all this to make her proud, to show her what she helped me achieve with all of her love and support and the life she let me have by saving me from my Dad. She’ll be reading this and I hope she knows how much I owe to her. I am me because of how she encouraged me, because of all the opportunities she gave me. Some of my fondest memories are going to University open days together or when she took me to Uni interviews. No matter how tired or stressed she might have been, she did all she could to get me to where I needed to be.
Unfortunately, I didn’t achieve the grades needed to secure a place at any of the universities I’d applied for, so one morning in August 2013, I woke up early, and waiting for the ‘Clearing‘ places to come online. (Clearing is a day in August where uni’s across the UK advertise any spaces they have left on their courses with reduced entry requirements.) I spent all morning calling different Universities until I spotted the University of Huddersfield offering a degree in ‘Operating department Practice‘. To my shock, they offered me an interview. That Saturday, Mum drove me to Huddersfield and waited patiently while I undertook several different interview rounds and eventually, I was offered a space on the course. That moment changed the direction of my life. Just 3 weeks later, I moved to Huddersfield and began the next chapter.
Uni was hard, made harder by a decline in my mental health and the emergence of an eating disorder. Unfortunately, most of my university memories are shadowed by the bulimia that controlled every aspect of my life. One great thing that did come out of uni was my friendship with Gemma, who after 10 years, remains in my life and we see each other once a year. She is fantastic in every sense of the word and she’s tolerated a lot of my BS over the years. Forever thankful to have her and I cherish the friendship we have.
In 2014, my sister, after 6 years missing, got in contact with me via Facebook (turns out social media can be useful) and in November, Mum and I collected her from Glasgow train station and brought her home. She’s been with us ever since. I wish I could say we had a great relationship and we healed the rift caused by our parents but unfortunately that is not the case and I am mostly to blame. I’m scared. I don’t want my life ‘tainted’ by the past life and her mental health makes cooperation difficult. That being said, I’d rather have a stained relationship with her than none at all.
I also started dying my hair crazy colours in 2014, favouring teal blue out of all of them.
I struggled a lot in 2015 but I did get my first passport and traveled to Paris. I even went to Disneyland. That honestly feels like a lifetime ago.
In 2016, by the skin of my teeth, I graduated with a degree and it was one of the proudest moments of my life. I moved to Norwich, started working at the hospital I was born at (or the equivalent as that hospital is now a block of flats.) and began navigating adult life. I made friends, I had my own little (rented) flat and life was good-ish. In 2017, I traveled to Florence, Italy, a place that remains one of my favourite places in the world and I long to revisit. I also adopted Clove that year. She is sleeping beside me as I type this.
In 2018, after spending my 25th birthday in Prague (and starting this blog), life took a turn as my relationship ended. This hit me hard but I used it as an opportunity for growth. Clove and I moved into a house more suited to her needs and much closer to work and the city centre. I also won 2 plane tickets to Spain through a competition at work which I gifted to my mum and her partner of 4 years, Andy. Mum decided to put the tickets towards a big family trip which we’d never done before but it was nice to be like a normal family and go abroad together. My sister and I have never been abroad together so this was a big moment for us and we bonded, repairing some of the damage caused.
2019 will go down as one of the best years of my life. This was the year I really ‘found myself’. The year I saw the true value of independence, friends and freedom. I traveled on my own twice: to Ireland in January and to New York in September. Being in New York on my own was an incredibly empowering experience and I’ve probably never felt as strong and powerful as I did in those few days. I also went to Wale and hiked Snowdon with my group of friends and in October, Gemma and I went to Spain. I also learnt to drive in 2019 after it became obvious that I could no longer take Clove to the cattery on the bus due to her excessive meowing. One of my friend and I got really into rock climbing and we were going regularly up until covid hit. I like looking back and see what I achieved in 2019. I lived for me and only me and it as great.
2020. Covid. Life turned upside down. I actually had a very busy 2020 planned. I’d gotten into acting at the start of the year and started attending a weekly acting course at my local theatre. I also had a 3 second roll in a student production which was great fun to film with several other little projects in the pipeline. I passed my driving test 3 days before my 27th birthday and my friends and I spent that birthday at Centre parcs. It was a great start to the year! Then in February, my landlords informed me that I needed to move out due to their messy divorce and within the same week, Covid 19 was taking over the UK. Work became a very surreal place and looking back, it’s hard to believe that we had to wear FFP3 masks 24/7 and gowned up in PPE most of the shift. Not to mention the twice weekly Covid tests. In April, Clove and I moved in with friends from work and the rest of the year was a blurry, miserable mess. The eternal lockdown did mean i had more time for my blog though. At some point, when restrictions had eased, I met Josh. He made life much more bearable and continues to do so in all his unique and quirky ways. I thought I knew what love was. Now I can say that I do. Christmas that year we decided to start looking for a place to rent together as my tenancy was drawing to a close with my friends and it made more financial sense (I know it was fast and I will happily admit that this was not a smart move but we did what we needed to at the time. the constant lockdowns meant we barely saw one another). 2020 also saw me get my hair permed and has become a yearly tradition!
February 2021, we did move in together but it was tense. We didn’t know each other well enough and we hadn’t worked out how to live together. In July, Josh moved out. We remained in contact, together but living apart to decide what we really wanted. This was a very tough time for me and trust was lost on both sides. I was scared Josh would bolt any given moment and he worried I couldn’t change my ways, become less defensive and more engaging of constructive feedback. I worked hard on myself because even if this relationship was doomed to fail, I didn’t want to be that version of myself. I wanted to be better. So in 2022, after all that hard work, when our tenancy was up, we moved back in together, to his hometown and life has been bliss since. The longer we spend together, the easier and stronger our relationship gets and I have never felt more loved or secure in my entire life. We aren’t perfect, but boy, do we make each other laugh and smile. He is my favorite person.
To give myself a healthier outlet for any stress and frustration and help reduce the burden on Josh, I took up horse riding, something I’ve wanted to do my whole life. I have a lesson a week and I’m addicted to it.
So here we are. 2023 and 30. Writing all that really shows me how far I’ve come, how much I’ve achieved. I have direction, I am starting a new university course this month which will hopefully open a lot more doors for me and my career. I hope that Josh and I continue to grow, I want to be writing about him in 10 years time and I hope to get many more years out of loving Clove, my loyal fluffball whose never once passed any judgement on me (got to love cats). As a person, I tend to lean towards the more pessimistic side of life but for the first time in a very long time, if ever, I’m full of optimum. Pride. I feel whole.
I am content with who I am, what I’ve accomplished and who I have in my life. Life is good.
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