It seems like such a “grown up” number. I remember my mum turning thirty and I think, for some reason, I never thought it would happen to me. But here I am – thirty years old. It’s 3:30am on the 9th of January…the day I was born…thirty years ago today.

For so long I had no idea how to be me. I always defined myself in relation to others. I was a daughter. A sister. A wife. A mother. Then there was my job. I was a photographer. Then there was my illness. I was mentally ill. But even if you mesh all those things together that isn’t the whole story. I am only just starting to feel free to be me.

At school I was bullied relentlessly. So I did everything to stop from being noticed. I tried to blend in with walls.

I had a father (who I adored) who I could never please. I did everything in my power to make him love me and proud of me. Losing so much of myself in the process.

I had a mother who could go from zero to violent in .6 seconds. I learnt to walk on eggshells and never say what I actually wanted.

I was a sexual abuse victim. I learnt to hide everything feminine about myself.

I was a wife to a man who was incapable of showing me love, affection, honesty or respect. I learnt to change myself to try to be more pleasing and to try to save my marriage.

I think everything really changed when I decided I couldn’t continue in my marriage. If I did I knew I would loose myself for ever. In that moment I realised, that finally, I loved myself more than him. A powerful lesson that it took me 29.5 years to realise. I no longer talk to or see my father, and now I try to make myself proud of what I choose to do with my life, not him. I finally told my mother that I could not keep my sanity and her in my life. I realised that I couldn’t be a victim forever and now I dress for me, not out of fear of what could happen. I no longer worry about hiding for fear of being bullied. I dye my hair the brightest orange I can, I wear 1950’s hair styles and fishnet stockings. I dance in the middle of the shopping centre with my kids.

One of the big reasons I never really left my marriage (I tried to leave but always came back) was fear of being alone. I’m not afraid any more. If I don’t find someone else, so be it. I am (well me and my girls) all the company I need.

Every birthday I have whined about not having friends to do stuff with. I did that briefly before thinking stuff this and I emailed the few friends I had and asked them to do something with me – lunch, coffee, crepes – whatever. Though I was also surprised when some lovely person I hadn’t heard from in forever emailed me and asked if I wanted to go see the Dresden Dolls with her on my last night in my twenties. I did and it was awesome.

I don’t care any more if people see my itunes account has everything from old hanson songs to eminem to Nancy Sinatra to crowded House to “Once More With Feeling” (the music from the Buffy the Vampire Slayer musical episode).

I don’t care that I can’t wear heels like other girls. I now have a nice collection of flats (lots of wittner, 6 different coloured converse and 2 pairs of Ferragamos!) to go with just about anything.

I don’t care if people know that I watch “I Love Lucy” and laugh harder than I do at any modern comedy.

I don’t care if people (including my MIL) think homeschooling is a bad idea…it works for us and our girls are happy and that’s all that matters.

30 years and I am just finally learning to live for myself, and not others. I don’t even believe that I have to live for my children any more. I love them more than life itself, but surely showing them to be who they are without apologies is the best lesson I can teach them?

When I turned 22 I was so upset (stupidly) and made everyone pretend I was 21. I just don’t feel that way any more. I found grey hairs this week and some fine lines under my eyes … would I give all this knowledge and self awareness, and possibly being happy for the first time in my life….to be 21 again? Not for all the tea in china (and if you know me, and know how much I love tea….)

Me on my last day of my 20’s. First photo I have posted in years that has no retouching on myself (being a photographer I know all the tricks to look amazing….but this is me, as I am). I did edit the whole image using a vintage style action….but that was it.

project:girl – 30 years old and damn it feels good!


6 thoughts on “Thirty

  1. Thanks so much Jennifer 🙂 – if you are interested the lipstick is Laura Mercier “Mistress”. So far my day has been wonderful.

  2. What a beautiful post. And so well written. I wish I was brave enough to write like that 🙂 Happy birthday! I love my 30s so much so far (4 years in!)… SO much better than the 20s.

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