It’s easy to fall into the icky-sticky trap of believing that you’ve got your shit together once you get to your thirties. It’s true that you may feel more comfortable in your own skin (hopefully), you may give less fucks about what other people think of you and hopefully you’ll be earning decent enough money to afford you some of the finer things in life – that’s all good stuff. But, it’s also possible that your thirties will also throw you some curve-balls.
By the time we get to our thirties, we assume that our friends are our friends. Why on earth wouldn’t they be? Right? They’ve survived the initial post-university cull, they’ve lasted through your twenties, they’ve been around for a decade. We’re all too old to start falling out over shit and, even if you do well, we’re all old enough to talk it out like adults. You can’t get a relationship built on a more solid foundation…right? Wrong.
First of all, timing is crucial. Your thirties are the decade of seismic shifts and massive life decisions. You may get married, you may have kids. If your friends decide to do the same thing at more or less the same time then it’s likely that your friendship will survive…but if not? That can be a tricky path to tread. Those friends that you thought would be with you for life may not understand the impact kids have on your social life, your mental health, your ability to string a sentence together and not fall asleep in your food. Child-free, fresh-faced friends may struggle to empathise when really all they’re thinking is, “What happened to you?” (Trust us, we’re thinking the same thing.)
Secondly, money matters. Your friends may admire your dedication to the creative or charitable life despite the lack of renumeration it offers you. How noble! How brave! Of course, they chose to be bankers and lawyers and (some would argue, wisely) trade in a creative outlet for a fuck-off paycheck. I can’t hold that against them but you only have to turn down a few invites to lobster lunches and luxurious mini-breaks due to the lack of funds before the invites stop coming at all. They’re not bad people – they just have cash, shit loads of it, and you don’t. They don’t want to embarrass you by asking you to do stuff you can’t afford and they’re not foaming at the mouth to slum it in Pizza Express.
Finally, just because you’re in your thirties doesn’t mean that people don’t occasionally behave like total wankpuffins sometimes. While we should all be beyond that, we are all still sometimes hit with an attack of the insecurities, a dollop of gut-wrenching anxiety and a side-serving of self-doubt at time. This can lead us to make questionable choices in terms of how we react to shit or deal with stuff leading to bust-ups of playground proportions. It’s not big and it’s not clever but it’s important to know that it does happen and there is one thing you need to keep in mind: while it may feel a lot like being bullied in the playground when you were seven, there’s one huge difference. You’re bigger, your braver, you’ve seen this shit before, you know (you DO know) that you don’t need their approval. These grown-up cockwaffles may make you feel small and inferior but you’re not seven, you’re not in the playground and you’re not stuck with them. Walk away with your head held high and some serious swagger in your step…even if you’re shitting yourself the whole time.
I guess what I’m trying to say is be open. Be open to change in your thirties (and forties). Be open to people you thought you’d know and love forever letting you down or fading out of your life. Be open to people surprising you in the most wonderful ways – people you thought you’d never see or speak to again may well turn out to be your best friend – and no matter what shit people throw at you know that it’s just same shit, different decade.
Thankfully, you’ve got this.