I’ve always seen each year as a privilege not everyone is afforded. When I was 14, my uncle died.
He was 30 so I, naturally, thought he was decrepit and was baffled by everyone crying about how young he was.
As I approached my own 30th birthday, the brevity of his time on earth began to dawn on me, and I held my breath for the entirety of that year, hoping I would make it to the other side.
When the morning of my 31st birthday arrived, I cried, having finally overtaken him.
I am now 32 and I like being in my 30s. I feel as if I know who I am but I’m still open to changing; I’m not arrogant enough to assume that I don’t have anything else to learn.
In some ways, I feel younger now that I did at 22. I was in such a rush then, desperately wanting to tick off boxes (live with boyfriend; move to New York; write novel), listing milestones that I thought I ‘should’ achieve by a certain age.
It took me some time but I’ve come to realise that there is no schedule that we need to adhere to and everyone’s path is different. Life has a funny way of working out the way it’s meant to.
What I dislike, however, are the limitations that society attempts to place on you, usually using the word ‘we’. We shouldn’t be clubbing at our age, we’ll be the oldest ones there... We can’t wear crop tops, those are for teenagers... We need to be more careful with what we eat, our metabolisms are slowing down. We’re getting older, you know, we can’t have as much fun anymore.
I’ve been hearing this ‘we’re getting older’ line from friends since we were in our mid-20s (there was much talk about the need to start using eye-cream the year we all turned 21) and my response has always been to laugh and tell them that I’ll remind them of this conversation when we’re in our 70s.
As we get older, I’ve also noticed a growing reluctance to try new things or to meet new people. I have my friends now, those in their 30s and beyond will say. I don’t need any more.
Now, would you say that you had tasted enough food and you were never going to try a new meal for the rest of your life?
That you quite liked Ireland so didn’t see the point of ever going on another holiday?
There’s a closed-off mentality and a lack of curiosity that accompanies the ‘no more friends’ rule that is incomprehensible to me.
While there is nothing like a childhood friend (Hi, Áine!) to call you out on a white lie because your left eye involuntarily twitched as you spoke, or a school friend (Hola, Grace!) to remind you of that time she held your hair back as you retched uncontrollably in the club toilets — note to self, sambuca is evil — I must admit that making new friends is one of my favourite things to do.
I have an inability to maintain professional boundaries with anyone I work with for an extended period of time, as my agent, editor, publicist, and everyone involved with the Asking For It documentary will attest. I love people.
I want to know their stories, their motivations, the boy/girl who broke their heart when they were 15, the secret ambition to join a circus that they’ve never told another soul. I’m consistently open to the possibility that today could be the day that I meet a new person who will change my life forever.
I met one of my best friends from Trinity at a bus stop.
A girl in my dystopian fiction class mentioned she had a spare ticket to see the Spice Girls reunion tour in London.
A classmate in DIT told me she was going to New York and that I should come too.
A colleague at ELLE suggested getting tattoos after a party in Brooklyn. I was chatting with a friend of the groom at a wedding and discovered we were both getting the bus back to Dublin the day after.
I took a small role in an amateur drama production and said I didn’t mind sharing a room with two people I barely knew when we toured the festival circuit.
I admired someone’s shoes at a book conference in Dun Laoghaire.
I asked my favourite author if we could go for coffee and then basically begged her to adopt me.
I interviewed one of the most compelling women I’ve ever met.
I went to a birthday party in a castle for a dead British king and a blonde woman with bare feet opened the door.
I met each of these when I was an adult and they are some of the most important people in my life now.
It frightens me to think that I could have missed out on their warmth, their humour, their kindness, and their love, if I had said “Well, I have my friends now. I don’t need any more.”
Life is constantly evolving. You might move. You might get a new job. You might have children or decide not to. You might decide that CrossFit isn’t actually a cult and is a perfectly normal way of keeping fit.
It’s only natural that as your circumstances change that you will meet different people who have more in common with you at this stage of your life.
It doesn’t mean that you discard old friendships, throwing school friends away for a new, shinier, model, but it does necessitate a flexibility, an openness to the fact that there might be room for new people in your world.
The more people, the more love.
I promise you.