People will tell you that 30 is the end of youth. They'll claim that when your age no longer starts with a 2, you're practically confined to a life made up of mortgage stress, dirty diapers and spending Friday nights watching game shows in your old slippers with a hole on the big toe matched only by the emptiness that now lives where your youthful spirit once was.
I'm here to tell you that's all crap.
30 is fabulous. It's the beginning of what you finally understand is the real you. Gone is the aimless (yet so important!) experimenting: you know who you are, what you want and in some cases even how to get there. You're aware of the person you are or at least the one you want to be.
30 is the fierce celebration of the person you truly are. Your dreams that will become realities - and maybe some of them already are. Your aspirations that start to take form, slowly, maybe somewhat unsteadily, but they're taking shape. You're an actual grown-up now - and to me personally, that means anything but mortgages and babies. In my mind, adulthood means freedom. The freedom to choose whether to get a tattoo (second one coming up!), whether to have drinks with friends all night or watch movies under the covers with a box of cookies, whether to save up for your first very own apartment or to go on a crazy trip with your friends or loved one. It means planning a wedding and choosing baby names or buying another pair of way too expensive shoes. It means that you already know what your favourite books, movies, bands are but are open to new impressions.
30 means finding love, looking for love or not giving a damn - and being okay with that. It's about knowing what to say yes or no to, what makes your heart beat faster and what makes you angry. It's about knowing what you want to achieve and acting accordingly. It's about finally understanding the complete freedom and somewhat scary liberation that lies in the phrase "I am the maker of my own destiny". No more hiding behind parents' decisions, peer pressure or some bad boyfriend's poor judgement. 30 is the age when you are in charge of your life - for better or worse.
30 is about having it all together, being in control - or having the courage to lose control. It's not about following your dreams as much as it's about chasing them, with the knowledge that you have the determination to actually make things happen. Adulthood is freedom. Freedom to finally be you, completely, fully, gloriously.
And it's not necessarily about being mature.
I (center) will always be the one who makes a crazy face in photos. I'll always be the one who screams louder than fifteen-year-olds in concerts (like this week's amazing 30 Seconds to Mars show - I came out with my voice down and an actual hint of a sore throat). I'll always be the one with a stain on her dress and not giving a tiny rat's ass about it. The one who stumbles, even in ballet flats. The one with frizzy hair. The one who laughs too loud in the movies. The one who starts crying at that heartbreaking dog food commercial with the dog that's treated badly by its owner (why did you do that to me, Pedigree??). The one who drops her bag and finds herself picking up her lipsticks, coins and old concert tickets from the ground in the middle of the street. In the rain. The one who dreams of winning the Nobel literature prize (hey, it could happen). The one who would choose a weekend away with friends over buying a new sofa in a heartbeat. The one who loves growing up - but on her own terms.
Pictures by me