Hello 34!

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I’m not a huge fan of celebrating my birthday. Not because I don’t like growing older, it’s because being a January baby is the *WORST*. It has always been difficult to celebrate my birthday because come January,  everyone is broke, detoxing, suffering from the January blues, giving up alcohol or embracing Veganuary. I often let my birthday sneak by with a very lowkey celebration with a couple of friends. But since I turned 30, I’ve enjoyed celebrating and realised how important it is to talk about my age. In a world obsessed with youth, it feels like a rebellious act to be loud and proud of being a 30-something.

When I was younger, 30 felt ancient. As I’ve grown older, I’ve realised this is a total myth which is mostly maintained by the media. Rather than bucking the trend, the blogosphere has followed suit. It’s seen as a 20-something’s game and you often see ridiculous things like someone in their early 20s promoting anti-ageing creams because – God forbid – they actually have someone who age-appropriate who looks like their actual customer base in their campaign. What a revolutionary concept!

We live in a world where age equates beauty; you’re at your most beautiful in the first flushes of youth after which your beauty fades each year. Well, I beg to differ. Each morning before I hastily apply my make up before rushing out of the door, I study my face. I see laughter lines around my mouth from giggling with my godson or that time in Capri when an old man started stripping on the table of a club (true story). I see little crinkles on the corners of my eyes from laughing so hard I can’t breathe and from squinting at the sun while visiting somewhere beautiful. Tell me, what’s more beautiful than seeing the signs of a life that has been lived fully? What’s more captivating than signs of a happy, joy-filled life?

Years ago, a friend of mine made a beautiful analogy. He showed me a plain piece of paper and asked me to look at it, which I dutifully did. Plain, white, straight edges. He then screwed up the piece of paper and attempted to flattened it out and asked me to look at it again. It wasn’t smooth and sleek anymore, instead, it was full of bumps and crinkles. He explained that the first sheet of paper looked perfect but it didn’t make me feel anything. On the other hand, the second sheet was interesting, it told a story. Each crumple was like a line in a sonnet. He made me see that perfect gets boring very quickly but there’s beauty in imperfection. The crumples and crinkles are intriguing, fascinating and draw you in. I thought it was such a lovely way to look at life, it really stuck with me and helped me to appreciate my wrinkles, stretch marks and scars as beautiful.

Truth be told, I rarely think about my age and I often forget how old I actually am. Occasionally someone will ask and I’ll need to pause before answering. I don’t see age as very important, most of the time I feel like I’m still 26 so when I answer and remind myself of how old I am, it comes as a bit of a shock that I’m actually 34!

I’ve really appreciated the last decade of my life and I’ve found a peace which you only really feel after you turn 30. I feel like I’ve unfolded into myself. I’ve spent a lot of time appreciating who I am and what makes me tick. It’s almost like having a friendship with myself, peeling away a layer at a time and learning who I really am.

Each year feels like another exploration of who I am and it feels so glorious. Last year, I wrote about turning 33 and wanting to celebrate the fuck out of life. And over the last twelve months, I’ve had a riot. I visited 9 different countries during 13 trips abroad. I’ve had crazy nights out, done rum shots for breakfast with a tobacco farmer, hiked to picturesque waterfalls, stayed up to see the sun come up and added to my collection of laughter lines. I’m so grateful for the best 33rd year.

And what am I hoping for from my 34th? Well, I want to grow up. Stop procrastinating. Get on with it. I have a ton of things I need to tick off my list, they’ve been languishing there for quite a while. I’m gifted with great language skills but haven’t been able to commit to learning any properly. I love photography but I’d rather watch Netflix than hone my craft. In a way, I want to go back to school this year…just with better shoes and school trips. Travel-wise, I want to continue venturing off the beaten path to lesser-known destinations like Uzbekistan and Namibia. Not bad for someone in their 30s, right?!

Top – Halpern x Topshop | Skirt – Halpern x Topshop | Shoes – Aquazzura

Photography by Kylie Eyra.

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Reena Rai

Reena Rai is a 30-something London-based fashion, travel and lifestyle blogger. She has been blogging for 10 years (!), previously at fashiondaydreams.com before launching her self-titled blog.

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