Opinion: Emma Stone has called turning 30 ‘bittersweet’ – this is why it’s actually great

The milestone is a time for celebration, argues Jenny Stallard.

She’s set to hit screens in new film The Favourite opposite Olivia Colman, and she wowed us in La La Land – but it turns out that, just like the rest of us, actress Emma Stone has suffered a small crisis of confidence.

Speaking to British Vogue for its February issue, Stone revealed that, on turning 30, she felt “gloomy for about a week”.

But it’s actually a fabulous time, the opposite of gloomy, as you find your feet as a person and work out what you like – or don’t. Here’s why I think it’s great turning 30 (and then, recently, 40).

You’re more comfortable in own skin

Ahh, if only 30-year-old me could have told 20-year-old me that she’d like her body more as she turned the big 3-0. That she’d look in the mirror and say, ‘Hey, not bad, considering’.

As I’ve grown older, I’ve found that I appreciate my body for what it can do, not just what it looks like. This appreciation is a continual work in progress, for sure, but on turning 30, I found I wanted to wear a cute outfit, not cover it up in baggy jeans as I had a decade before.

Just before turning 30, I ran the London marathon, which felt liberating. Not wanting to make my 30s a time to slow down, I then did the Tough Mudder obstacle course race.  If that’s not a way to feel OK in your own skin (as you’re covered in mud, soaking and certainly not glamorous) I’m not sure what is.

You’re closer to friends

Sure, at college, uni or your first job, you form the friendships that could last a lifetime – but at 30 and beyond, you’ve had way more time to bond and get to know each other. Turning 30, I was surrounded by so many people I called friends, old and new.

I’ve learned the value of different friendships – and that (sadly) not all of them last as you expect, but that’s ok. Just like relationships, friendships change, or break up in your 30s. It’s a time for growth with friends, and finding new ones: As many of my mates married, I found new, single chums who are now close as I’ve turned 40.

You’re more accomplished in your career

Emma Stone after winning the Best Actress Academy Award for La La Land (Ian West/PA)

Or at least more comfortable in knowing what you’d like to do if it’s not what you’re doing right now. Stone talks in her Vogue interview about how she took a year off – and I fully advocate doing this, too, if you can.

Or, at least scheduling some time to work out what else you want to get up to apart from your work. And at 30, you can do this, because you’ve done the groundwork. Ten or more years in your job, or working towards the job you want, and it’s time to reflect and see what else is out there for you.

I took a career break in my early 30s, and after travelling and two ski seasons, realised that writing was my true love, so back to it I went. Just like Stone and her acting.

You work out where to call home

I’m not talking necessarily about owning a place, although as I turned 30 I got my first mortgage which felt like an amazing accomplishment. But this is more about working out where is home for you. That could be a rented room, a rented flat, mum and dad’s spare room which provides solace after a break up, or it might be a rucksack and a dorm in Australia.

By my 30s, I found that, just as with my style and body, I knew more how I wanted my home and personal space to look. I was more comfortable in my interiors skin (and that included very loud bedding, purple kitchen tiles and a Tiffany-style standard lamp). I’m still developing that, but I bet Stone knows more about what scatter cushions she likes now compared to her taste at 20. And we should all know what scatter cushions we like.

You’re less afraid to explore your own emotions

In my late 30s, I went to see a therapist – something I’d never have done in my 20s. It really helped me work out what I wanted in life, and who I was. Stone actually started therapy when she was 7 years old, for anxiety, and has spoken a lot about her mental health and worked with the charity Mind.

You become more daring

Oh, that Tough Mudder was just the tip of the iceberg. Stand up comedy, travelling, working as a freelance writer… I’d never have dared do those things in my 20s. But 30 and beyond gave me a certain level of confidence I hadn’t possessed before.

So it seems it goes for Stone, too. In The Favourite, she has a sex scene with Olivia Colman – a far cry from the tap dancing lightness of La La Land.

You realise you’re still a work in progress

This is something Stone has alluded to, and I can certainly relate to. With all of the above in place, you realise, too, that you are ‘still finding your voice’.

She added that she has realised “it’s ok if not everybody likes you” (try telling THAT to your teenage self!), and that nobody knows what we’re doing: “We’re all just a bunch of people trying to figure out how to get through the day.”

Whether you’re turning 30, 40, 50 or more, that’s a definite truth to hang on to.

- Press Association


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