How Did You Spend Your 30th Birthday?

How Did You Spend Your 30th Birthday?


How did you spend your 30th Birthday?

As I recently turned 32, I’ve been asking what people have done for their 30th birthday. Turning 30, traditionally, has had a negative connotation. There are movie plots based on a pair of friends marrying each other if they’re still, tragically of course, still single at the age of 30. There are jokes that at 30 your life is over. Or women thinking they have to be married/have children before they turn 30. I’m grateful that in the NYC bubble I live in, there is not a negative stigma for single, childless women in their 30’s. But I know it exists.

What Do I Get for Turning 30?

Realistically, turning 30 is still an interesting event. The age of 30, is the first milestone age that doesn’t come with any privileges. At age 16, I was given the privilege of being able to get my driver’s permit. At age 18, I was given the numerous privileges of being a legal adult. At age 21, I was given the privilege to legally purchase alcohol. Then I turn 30 and… get nothing.

It’s a big deal birthday. People dread it. Or welcome it. There are big 30th birthday bashes. But no legal advantages. And this is what we have to look forward to for the rest of our lives. Instead of having things given to us for, simply, remaining alive. We now have to earn any future privileges. We have everything. We can do anything. There aren’t any other birthdays to look forward to. I can definitely see why some people get bummed out about it.

It’s Only a Big Deal if You Make It A Big Deal

I was one of those who dreaded turning 30. I’m not even sure why. Leading up to my birthday, I was very nonchalant. But then the week of I became very dramatic about it. I remember the night before, I grew irrationally panicked and thought I could just not go to sleep, then I wouldn’t turn 30. Well, of course I turned 30 anyway. But I did not want a big bash. I didn’t want to celebrate me. I did want to celebrate my friends.

Instead of a big party, I spent the week of my 30th birthday having one-on-one dinners with some of my close friends. I was grateful to have these people in my life and wanted to remind myself of that. At age 30, I was surrounded by some pretty swell people.

How Did You Spend your 30th Birthday?

It’s very interesting to me to hear how people spent this milestone birthday. Most stories I hear say it was “low-key” and “not a big deal.” Then some people mentioned going on a trip with friends. (Since an advantage of turning 30 is having more money than you did at age 21). I’m curious to hear other 30th birthday stories!

How did you feel about turning 30? Were you dreading it? Or celebrating it? Or neither? Did you party it up? Stay at home in your PJs?

I will say that being in your 30’s is generally better than being in your 20’s, so that is definitely something to celebrate.


17 Replies to “How Did You Spend Your 30th Birthday?”

  1. I’ve still got over a year to go until my 30th (I’ll be 29 in April), but most of my friends turn 30 before me, so I’m curious to see how everyone decides to celebrate. I’m not really dreading it so much as feeling like it’s crazy that I could possibly be that old already.

    I like the idea of a bunch of dinners with close friends – may steal that when the time comes ;)

    1. Please do steal the idea, it was a lovely birthday week! Turning 30 didn’t make me feel as old as this year, since I can now say, I graduated college TEN years ago!

  2. Happy Birthday!

    I got married the year I turned 30, but the two aren’t necessarily related. ;) Had things gone my way, I’d have been married a year earlier, but we wound up putting off the wedding for various reasons.

    I have never had any angst or drama around the “zero” birthdays, to be honest. Those decade markers have always seemed to usher in new (and good) things in my life. Now that I’m in my mid-40s, I find myself sort of looking forward to turning 50.

    1. Thanks Kara! It definitely does seem life will continue to get better from here and there’s not much reason to dread the inevitable anyway.

  3. My 30th birthday was not a very good one – but because of my life situation and not because of the number. Long story short, I basically broke-down and was put on stress leave about a week before my birthday. It was nice to have made a positive (although terrifying) change and put myself first for the first time in years, but everything was definitely at a cross-road for me.
    Little did I know a year later, on my 31st birthday, I’d be sitting with my sister and fiance picking out our wedding date – which if all goes according to plan will be on my 32nd birthday :)

    1. Congratulations! A year can make such a difference! I also wasn’t in the best state of mind on my 30th, which is why it was so hard for me. I do think it’s around that time we start figuring out the best self-care. Which can only mean the days ahead will be much better.

  4. Happy Bday as well!

    And you’re right – another one of the great perks of living in NYC is the fact that not being married at pretty much any age isn’t seen as weird!

  5. I got a bunch of friends to go to a local old-school amusement park and we went roller skating! I have not had a birthday freakout yet (early 40s now) and don’t have a lot of empathy for them. Now my friends are starting to roll into the bigger zero birthdays and I reallllly hope we can avoid a series of seriously expensive parties. Time will tell.

    1. My sister just celebrated her 50th birthday and it was a HUGE bash, at a venue, with a band, etc. I’m not sure if she’ll be doing that every ten years or not. I love your idea of going to an amusement park and roller skating! Totally nostalgic but still fun now.

  6. I spent my 30th with friends in Prague. Weekends away for birthday were part and parcel of living and working in London for my friends and I so it wasn’t hugely different to my other birthdays whilst there (Cologne for Christmas markets for my 27th, Iceland for my 28th, Brighton for my 29th, Paris/Euro disney for my 31st). Birthdays here at home are much more low key. Drinks with friends or a nice meal or something along those lines. Last year it was a movie and afternoon tea with a few friends. I love birthdays. A bit for the celebration but also for the anticipation of what’s ahead.

    1. I also like the anticipation feeling. Birthdays to me are a better time for self-reflection than new year’s. All your birthday travels sound like a good time!

  7. Happy Birthday! I was dating a guy at the time who tried to throw me a surprise party and failed miserably. It was fairly uneventful, but I also didn’t dread turning 30 at all. In fact I really didn’t dread turning 40 and had a fabulous birthday that year. But…I think i’ve dreaded every year after that. It’s just that whole moving towards 50 thing. I’m really feeling it now. Oprah lied.

    1. Ohmygoodness what went wrong with the surprise birthday party? I’ve never had one attempted for me. Though I’ve been to both successes and bombs. I think it is a sweet intention on his part though! (Unless he was a super jerk, then nevermind). I’m also curious what makes 50 feel so different for you than 40? I really think 30 has a bit of a stigma most decade birthdays don’t. I doubt I’ll be so dreadful of 40 (hope I don’t regret saying that!)

  8. I spent my 30th birthday on a mission trip to Appalachia repairing a roof with a group of teenagers. They sang happy birthday to me at dinner. The teenage boy who lived in the house told me I was an old maid. Actually 29 had been a rough year for me having broken up with my boyfriend of 7 years and being forced to make a job change. My 30’s were actually wonderful – so far my favorite decade.

  9. I had friends round for drinks and snacks. Most of my friends are from work, and most of the people I work with are much older, so my party included a few people who are planning their 60ths! It puts 30 into perspective, really. I look forward to this decade!

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