Turning 30 is terrifying. I know this because I am turning 30 this year and even typing that out chills me to the bone. If I was on X Factor, I'd be in the upper echelons of “the overs” category, singing ballads at a piano in a long, ankle-length dress. Even referring to X Factor makes me feel old, like when parents type “Tick Tock”. The other day, I thought about the fact I was walking around in the 90s – the real 90s – before broadband internet existed. Who does that?
Anyway, one thing that happens before you turn 30 is that you learn stuff and then – if you work at a media company – you make a list about it. Those are the rules. You cannot turn 30 without making one of these lists which say things like “wear sunscreen!” and “something something hangovers something.”
Here is VICE’s “turning 30” list. And listen, a lot of research went into this: I asked around and harvested knowledge from multiple friends and strangers online. This is the product of some serious cumulative wisdom.
Here is the only list about turning 30 you are going to need.
1) Look after your skin properly
Imagine being 27 and just pure slathering on St. Ives Apricot Scrub in the shower before pounding your face with Clearasil moisturiser. You may as well just dunk your head in a basin of washing up liquid every morning. That's how much you are looking after your skin.
As someone who has suffered from acne for most of her adult life, here's what I've learned: most products don't work unless you already have clear-ish skin. If not, just keep it simple. Use alcohol-free, non-comedogenic products with minimal ingredients. Invest in some retinol. And if you have stubborn acne, get a prescription from your GP to do the heavy lifting. Also, yes: Wear sunscreen.
2) Learn basic cooking skills
This should really be something you do before turning 25, but whatever – it's never too late. Basic cooking skills include but are not limited to: using pasta water with your sauce. Cooking one cup of rice with two cups of water. Marinating chicken, fish and tofu properly. Knowing the length of time it takes to cook a soft-boiled egg (six to seven minutes).
Also, don't throw onion and garlic in the pan at the same time like you did at uni. The garlic will burn. Wait until the onion softens first.
3) Go to therapy
Being a toxic little bitch might have been cute during your sixth form Euphoria era, but it doesn't quite have the same ring to it when you're inching towards 30. By then, you're not “impulsive” and “hard to pin down” – you're just easily triggered with deep-rooted attachment and communication issues.
If you can't afford therapy, however, there's always –
But only the good ones. Bad drugs include things like crystal meth and cocaine and even MDMA. Good drugs include things like mushrooms and DMT and LSD. Look, I’m sorry but you’re too old to be staying up until 6AM in a stranger’s living room yabbering on about surveillance capitalism. It’s more about going on “journeys” and becoming enlightened now. Or that's what everyone keeps saying anyway.
5) Hack your hangovers
Other lists will tell you to drink less. Throughout your 20s, drinking so much that you're sick the next day goes from “ha ha legend” to “I'm seriously concerned about your wellbeing, here are some numbers you can call.” And the healthiest way to avoid really bad hangovers (and the concern of others) is to simply cut down on alcohol.
That said, just because you're getting older doesn't mean you have to stop getting on it entirely. But you will need to learn how to manage hangovers if you want an easy life. For me, this has meant using low-sugar mixers, popping hydration tablets after a night out and always drinking a pint of water before bed.
6) Invest in some sewing materials
I know what you're thinking: can't be arsed. But there's no reason to throw away those Levi’s jeans that makes your butt look juicy just because they have a huge hole in the crotch. Sew up the hole! Sew up the hole and let the world admire your butt while you still have one! Do this with all your broken clothes!
7) Learn how to hand wash your clothes properly
Speaking of clothes, why not actually start hand washing the items you're supposed to hand wash? I personally put this off for ages because I couldn't imagine myself wringing out some yarn over a basin like some kind of medieval hag. In reality, it takes about 15 mins in total and now my knitwear doesn’t look like it belongs to Cabbage Patch dolls because I put it in the washing machine.
8) Get Botox and fillers
Ha ha, just kidding. Fuck body standards etc, etc. No but really, there comes a point in everyone’s life where you have to choose between ageing rockstar (Patti Smith, Liam Gallagher) or iconic bimbo (Pamela Anderson, Amanda Lepore) and maybe that point… could be now? Unless you’re Courtney Love or Pete Burns when he was alive, in which case you can be both.
9) Make and keep plans with new people
When you're a teenager, “having mates” consists of showing up to the same classes or house parties, going halves on Glen’s vodka and gossiping about people you fancy. In your 20s, it gets harder and harder to make new mates until you're suddenly 28 years old and surrounded by the same five people you’ve known since school or uni, who are all getting married now.
Having old mates is fun and good, but in order to make new ones you'll need to step out of your comfort zone. Make plans with people. Actually follow up on them. The other day, someone I barely know messaged me to ask if I wanted to go for a walk. I said yes. We had a nice time and will probably do it again.
10) Buy a set of tools
I don't have a set of tools, but everyone keeps telling me I should have a set of tools? So yeah: Buy a set of tools.
11) Take more photos
Remember when you were 18 and you thought you resembled a baked potato slathered in fake tan, but when you look back on pictures now you actually appear youthful and glowing, with perky round tits or actual pecs? Yeah well, I’m guessing the same thing happens when you reach your 40s, so take a lot of photos of you looking fit right now, even if you don’t think you look fit.
Having lots of photos to look at also makes you feel good and grateful for the life you have lived thus far. You may think that your 20s was just you bingeing Netflix and doomscrolling about Donald Trump, the pandemic, climate change or war, but look at all these photos: You were having a blast!
12) Stop being embarrassed about weird sex stuff
There's nothing more embarrassing than being embarrassed. Especially about sex stuff. Especially by the time you turn 30. So you’re into getting pegged while being called “Mommy”? What of it?
13) Learn how to roll tobacco
This specifically goes out to the 20-something smokers, social smokers and “non-smokers” who ask people to roll for them after exactly three drinks. See also: Buy your own tobacco.
14) Keep your plants alive
Apparently keeping plants alive involves more than just watering them when you remember. People who have vibrant, jungle-like flats with ivy climbing up the walls use misters and fertilisers and change the pots and soil of their plants regularly.
If you’re considering becoming a “plant person” as you approach 30 – which is relatively likely seeing as everyone seems to become a “plant person” at 30 – do a bit of research. Otherwise your bedroom is going to end up looking like Little Shop of Horrors on dark mode.
15) Stop ghosting people
By “ghosting”, I don’t mean forgetting to reply to someone on Hinge. That’s just living your life. I mean having sex or dating someone for three to six months and then pretending you’re dead because you saw them tie their shoelaces before crossing the road once and got the ick. Don’t be 32 years old and ghosting people. Send an email, at least.
16) Get to grip with taxes
This one time, I didn’t understand my taxes correctly and HMRC started saying I owed them £10,000. They started sending letters that said “You owe us £10,000!” even though I was at college and working a minimum wage job in retail. Then, every time I had fun, or laughed, or enjoyed myself even slightly, the number £10,000 would flash in my head in bright red and I would stop abruptly. £10,000.
Don’t be like me. Get to grip with your taxes. Learn what the jargon means. If you tend to zone out as soon as you see terms like “accrual basis” then get a professional to sit down and explain things to you. If you’re a freelancer, hire an accountant to help with your tax return if you have the means to do so.
17) Wash the walls
Bit of a weird one, but have you ever noticed how walls can get grimy sometimes? You can just wash them.
18) Have relationships that are easy
Too many people spend the pertest years of their lives in screaming matches with their on again-off again “soulmate” from college. But relationships should make you feel good at least 75 percent of the time. When you look at your partner, you should feel nicely pumped up on oxytocin like a milk-fed baby. They shouldn’t make you feel like writing tortured poems, or seeking revenge. That said–
19) Have relationships that are fun
Just because you’re turning 30 and have a significant other doesn’t mean you have to consign yourself to nightly Netflix murder documentaries and “what should we have for dinner?” forever and ever, for the rest of your lives. Do new and different things. Go to parties together. Get a random bus to a random location. Slip them a little finger in the Uber (YOLO! *sticky out tongue face* *peace sign*). Whatever you like, just keep it moving. Or just–
20) Don’t be in a relationship at all
No £1,100PCM one bedroom flat in Forest Hill is worth having to live with a 29-year-old skater who asks what’s for dinner every night and won’t go down on you.
21) Stop eating shit all the time
Seems unfair, having the taste palette of a seven-year-old boy and the body of a nearly 30-year-old. All I want to do is eat potato smilies and Burger King, but doing that for more than three days in a row is going to make me feel like a depressed slug.
There’s nothing morally wrong with eating shit – it is in fact morally correct – but the older you get, the more you need to look after your body. That’s just entropy, baby. So have some multivitamins or something, try kombucha, get really good at making medicinal soup. You will feel better for it.
22) Start using the word ‘lover’ to describe your romantic entanglements
Boyfriend or girlfriend? Too juvenile. Partner? Too earnest. Spouse? Too weird. Lover? Sexy and enigmatic.
23) Sleep more
Aside from chronic illness and depression, there is nothing in this life that cannot be improved by more sleep. Have a power nap on your lunch break. Catch some ZZZs on the way home. Go to bed at 10PM for a couple of nights and get one of those sleep apps that record you making sinister gurgling sounds at 4AM like you've just been possessed by a sleep goblin.
Slithering home from an afters at sunrise is fine and good when you're 21, but when you're nearly 30 it will make you feel like you are decomposing from the inside out – which in a way, you are.
24) Own at least three outfits that could be described as ‘smart’
Getting older means you have to go to more weddings, job interviews and probably funerals. So own something that isn't just a puffa jacket and some miscellaneous Weekday and Depop items. I am personally of the opinion that a black turtleneck can make anyone look serious and smart – whatever your gender – so get three of them and keep them in your wardrobe until someone dies, decides to wed or fires you.
25) Embrace how unhinged you are
What people don't tell you about approaching 30 is that you will experience a massive vibe shift whereby you will still be doing the same unhinged behaviours that defined your 20s, but you will simply cease to care. The shame just slowly shrinks with each passing month, until you are essentially shameless. Embrace it – you are free now.
26) Give good head
There is no excuse for not being good at head once you have completed your 20s, unless you don't have sex or don't own a face. The same goes for fingering. If you can do those two things with confidence and delicacy, you don’t need to worry about much else.
27) Stop being a big baby
When I asked Hatti Rex, VICE UK’s Social Editor, what she thought she needed to do before turning 30, this is the only thing she could come up with. See also: 3, 12 and 15.
28) Drink more water
Maybe you have a headache right now. Maybe you are experiencing brain fog. Confusion. A bit of lethargy? What have you had to drink today? What’s that? Seven coffees???
Drinking more water is actually – hear me out – really fun when you get into it. Your brain starts working like a smooth machine. Your skin develops a dewy sheen. The whites of your eyes become brighter. There are people on YouTube who film themselves drinking water – just drinking water – and while I think that might be taking “hydration” a bit too far, I can sort of see their point.
29) Keep listening to new music
A big fear of mine is becoming one of those people in their 30s and 40s who only engage in the music of their youth, like Gen X Dads saying wistfully, “You don't get bands like The Stone Roses anymore”. Just because you are becoming A Real Adult doesn’t mean that your taste has to freeze over and solidify.
But also, if you only want to listen to My Chemical Romance for the rest of your life that’s fine, too \m/
30) Enjoy the fact you are turning 30
Ageing is scary because you can only go forwards, never back, and “forwards” means closer to death, which is when you will cease to exist.
That said, there's lots to enjoy about reaching the end of your 20s. Getting older is about doing the things you love, because you love them and not because other people do. Peer pressure isn’t really a thing anymore. You might develop a jawline and can do makeup better. You’re probably a nicer or at least chiller person. Your style is a little more sophisticated, maybe. You know when to go out and when to stay in. And although you’re old, you’re not old old yet. See you on the other side.