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What Katie did next: In which I discover age is just a number


"SO, how does it feel being 30," a number of people asked me in the days following my last birthday.

"How does it feel being a chronic bore?" I felt like replying.

But I didn't. Because I'm 30 now, and we 30-year-olds are much too mature for backchat... no matter how small the talk to which we are subjected.

Most women spend their 29th year gearing up for the big 3-0. Indeed, 29 isn't really an age at all. It's just 30 minus one.

So how does it feel being 30? The same way it felt when I was 29... and 28, 27 and 26, if I'm honest.

But I know how I'm supposed to feel. I'm supposed to feel as though I have lost my dipsomatic immunity, that I have had to hand back my guilt-free pass.

There is an unspoken leniency that life extends to those in their teens and their 20s. Your age is an excuse for almost every misadventure.

However, when you reach 30 you are supposed to be old enough to know better. Even if you still feel young enough not to give a s***.



You can't kiss any more frogs – a rite of passage in your 20s – because you should be old enough to discern between the potential princes and the slippery little slimeballs.

You can't spend half your wages on a pair of shoes and be forced to borrow a nifty from your mother towards the end of the month. That type of frippery is accepted (I dare say expected) when you are in your 20s.

In your 30s, it is inexcusable. Poor money management will invariably have a family member encouraging you to pull in the reins and call up MABS.

I read in Good Housekeeping (yes, I do read it) that a 30-year-old should put 15pc of their salary into their pension.

What I found particularly amusing was the assumption that all 30-year-olds actually have pensions into which they can invest money...

Perhaps it is because we consider 30 such a significant milestone that we are meant to feel a lot older than we were when we were 29 and three-quarters.

What's worrying is that I now feel closer to middle age than I do to the mid-20s, which would suggest that my glass, in this circumstance, is half empty. Screw you, society.

I've left behind the insouciance of the 25-29 age category. That was some box to be in... I would tick it with an elaborate swoop whenever a questionnaire was passed to me in the doctor's office.

Still got it, I would think as I rolled the Bic biro across the page with a carefree flourish.

Now I have to tick the 30-35 box, which for some reason conveys images of itchy woollen tights, half-price frozen ready meals from Tesco and prudent savings plans.

At 30 you are officially supposed to start worrying about wrinkles.

Admittedly, I spent the better part of my 30th birthday googling facial exercises for nasolabial folds.

For the uninitiated, these are the "unsightly parentheses signs that form as you age and run from the sides of your nose to the area around the corners of your mouth", according to the website I found.

Unsightly – that's a bit harsh, isn't it?

But there are boons. I am now at the age at which I can officially do something about them if I like. To fiddle around with lasers and peels in your 20s is considered vain and greedy (you have youth already, you thief!). In your 30s it's par for the course.

Maybe I'll get a Vampire Facial...

But do I need it any more that I did when I was 29, or 28, or even 27? Probably not. I don't know that I need it at all.

One of the less documented changes that occurs when you reach your 30s is that you stop being so self-critical.

And I know this because I arrived at this juncture a little ahead of schedule.

You look in the mirror and see the stretch marks and the cellulite and you still think, 'I look pretty goddamn hot'.

It's nothing short of miraculous when you compare it to the ritual self-flagellation of the early 20s.





Just go to a 30th birthday party to see that we have plenty more growing up to do.

Or a 40th for that matter. 40th birthday parties are wild... but I digress.

We are looking better, living longer and starting families later – so we need to extend one of the life stages.

This idea that "30 is the new 20" (hence 40 is the new 30, and so on) isn't just a cliche of the modern age, it's a well-observed fact of life.

It strikes me that the first sign of ageing comes the moment you subscribe to the societal expectations of your age bracket.

Perhaps I should cancel my subscription to Good Housekeeping after all...