There are certain ages that are what I like to call “coming-of-age” ages.
For example, at 13 — you’ve officially entered the echelons of teen angst and have left behind childhood innocence (at least that’s how it worked in my day).
At 18 — the door to (legally) drinking, driving, and voting opens wide, and a slew of responsibility will hit you like a HECS bill.
At 21 — well, nothing especially noteworthy, but it’s a great excuse to throw a party.
And of course, 30 — the point of no return into adulthood.
If I were to model my life against my parents when they were my age … I suppose you could say that the similarities are scant. But that was a different time.
Now, 30 is when things start to get really good — mainly thanks to a bevy of physical and neurological changes that happen at this stage in the life cycle.
Sure, hangovers may become exponentially worse and certain cognitive tasks might feel inexplicably harder, but there’s real evidence to show that approaching 30 is when life starts to happen — see for yourself below.
YOU’LL EXPERIENCE A SEXUAL PEAK
Great news! All those awkward encounters and tried-and-tested dating experiments throughout your 20s will pay off. With age and experience on your side, you’ll have a better idea of what you like in your sex life — and fewer inhibitions about asking for it.
Sex therapist Dr Sharna Striar corroborates this perspective, saying, “People in their 30s realise the value of sex for sex. It doesn’t have anything to do with manipulation or any other sinister motive.”
Additionally, studies have proven that women aged between 27 and 45 have more sexual thoughts, fantasies and sex in general compared to women in their 20s.
The study, by Personality and Individual Differences, indicates that this is due to women going through a natural fertility decline at the start of their 30s, so are more inclined to think about reproduction and therefore sex.
LICENSE TO EAT MORE CHEESE
A fact: bone production peaks in your late twenties. Once the fourth decade begins, so does a gradual reduction of bone mass.
To prevent conditions such as osteoporosis which can lead to broken bones, it’s recommended that you start paying attention to your calcium intake and doing some resistance training or weightlifting. Keeping your skeleton active in the gym keeps it strong, as does cheese. So pass the d’affinois! This leads to …
STABILISING YOUR METABOLISM
Although your metabolism might not be as lightning fast as it was as a teenager, the good news here is that you actually gain less weight during your 30s than when you were younger, according to The Washington Post.
The average person typically puts on 500g to 1kg per year from early adulthood through middle age, but contrary to popular opinion, that increase happens mainly in the 20s.
Dr Lana Butner, one of New York’s most popular naturopathic doctors, said she notices a decrease of clients in their 30s coming to seek her services with issues of nutrition or weight management.
“My clients on the cusp of turning 30 generally have a better grasp on what works for them, dietarily, than those in their 20s” she said.
As you grow older, you’ll begin to guard your time more fiercely, choosing to spend it on people and endeavours that actually mean something to you. And with a spike in confidence, so will come a spike in identity.
Registered dietitian and nutritionist Carolyn Brown of Foodtrainers notices this regularly with her clients. “I’ve seen some of my clients develop a much stronger self acceptance as they enter their 30s. They’re much more comfortable with who they are and what they want. It’s probably one of the best realisations of getting older,” she said.
AN APPRECIATION OF ALCOHOL
Remember the days when you could drink with little to no consequence? It wouldn’t matter how late you stayed out or what questionable liquor you were consuming, you’d still be relatively okay the next day.
At the tail end of your 20s, those days are but a distant memory. Hangovers begin to become a three-day-long existential life crisis, including feeling nauseous, having headaches, and repeating the maxim; “I’m too old for this sh*t.”
There is good news though. You’re now at the age where you can finally learn to enjoy drinks — especially wine — which, instead of making you regret every decision you’ve ever made, can be quite an enjoyable experience. You realise that a bottle of good Burgundy is infinitely more delicious than any $ 4 tequila.
So anyone at your birthday party celebrating the big 3-0 who keeps cheerily telling you that “it’s all downhill from here” should be sent packing without a piece of cake.
Molly O’Brien is a Melbourne-native freelance writer living in New York. Continue the conversation at @mollyobrien9