People sometimes ask me what my scary age is. You know, that point of no return when you are no longer young and you can’t even try to claim you are. For Carrie Bradshaw, it was 38. For me, all throughout my 20s, it has been 30. Especially in my teens, I thought life as I knew it would end the day I blew out a 3 and a 0. When my cousin was born, I was 10 years old. I kept thinking: When she’s legally old enough to drink, I’ll be married with a couple of kids, a steady job and a mortgage. Needless to say, none of that is true. But 30 is also not the big bad wolf.
Here are six things that really happen when you can no longer say you are a 20-something.
1. Your perception of people flips upside down
The first thing that actually happens is a slow but steady shift: Your focus gradually finds a nest on the inside. You stop caring about what you look like, what the boy at the bar looks like and what the girl on the dance floor thinks you look like. You start appreciating what you once might have seen as bullshit. The invisible things are now your key parameters when you judge someone — and yourself for that matter.
2. You find your true (skin care) colors
As you stop caring about the majority’s opinion, you start treating your body differently. Maybe you realize you should move more and sit less, not only to look slimmer (which is becoming increasingly difficult) but also to feel better and to, ultimately, live longer.
Your makeup and clothes also get a makeover. The skirts you wore in your 20s now seem a bit too much (or too little), and you start avoiding that cobalt eye shadow you used to rave about.
Your vanity houses several more skin care products, which have more and more collagen in them. You also no longer reach for the discount bin, and you start to question what goes on your skin. Personally, I switched from a drugstore brand to something that costs three times as much, but I made it my business to know what I was buying. I’ve found a lot of great reviews on Highya.com, and I tend to go back before I run to Sephora.
3. Taking care of your body becomes a priority
The truth is you actually reach your peak after you hit 30. Your body is now more prepared for what you have to throw at it than it was before. You are in fact stronger, faster and more resilient — both in body and in mind — even though it might not feel like it.
After all, sprinters achieve their best results between the ages of 28 and 35. Why should you be any different? If they can run 400 meters in under 45 seconds and if Usain Bolt can get faster as he gets older, then your body is also waiting for you to unlock the gates to its maximum performance.
You start to spend more time buying groceries, not only because you now have the freedom to buy what you want but also because what you eat is slowly becoming a key factor in your life. You no longer care to stuff your face with Ben and Jerry’s at 2 a.m. A nice bowl of oatmeal at 7 a.m. sounds like a better idea.
4. You brush off other people’s judgments
All bets are off, and even casual acquaintances find it OK to ask when are you getting married and having children and wonder aloud what the hell are you waiting for. The clock is ticking, they love to say.
A perk of being 30 is not giving a damn about these incessant questions. You are now so filled with self-confidence that you are no longer infected by these darts. Society can begrudge you all it wants. You are your own voice of reason.
5. You enjoy your fortress of solitude
Just like Barney Stinson, you have your own Fortress of Barnitude. Your cave is all your own — odds are you no longer live with a parent or a roommate — and you are free to do with it and in it as you please. If you want to dance around in your underwear listening to your fav cheesy music, there is no one left to judge you.
Another fact: Only a select few are allowed to roam your fortress. Although your 20s were marked by a bunch of people you called friends, you now tend to call most of them acquaintances, and only very few people make it on the friends list. You also cut down on your virtual number of friends and use social media for completely different reasons. Marketing yourself is no longer second nature.
6. The final truth about turning 30
By far the biggest thing that happens to you on that morning you turn 30 is nothing. There is no time warp, no dimensional shift. Life goes on just as it did yesterday only you are a day older and a day wiser. Looking back at your 20s, you realize you are a different person, but so were you when you looked back at 22, 26 and 29. Take a deep breath, and stop sweating the numbers. After all, 30 is the new 20, not that it matters.
More: 15 life lessons I learned in my 30s