I’m 29 and have been pretty relaxed as I get closer to 30. I had a freak out when I was 27 and briefly living in Melbourne and cried the whole day. I cried for two weeks afterwards and couldn’t stop thinking about my career and what I wanted to achieve so I moved home. After my ‘27 freak out’, I chilled out and released a lot of fear and self-doubt. Turning 28 and 29 was a breeze. I embraced it because life is more than good and we are lucky to be alive.
It’s a standard day, I wake up from a full 8 hour sleep, what a treat. Shout out to Melatonin and half a ‘zoppie (Zopiclone) the night before. I go for a 5.30am walk run with the birdies and and am treated to a fiery beach sunrise. I come home full of endorphins, jump into the shower, listen to Louise Hay power thoughts and affirmations while I get ready, make a smoothie filled with all the superfood goodness, take my vitamins and am ready for the day at my dream job I worked 10 years to get.
Life is great. I am happy and strong, I am very grateful.
THE FIRST FREAK OUT
Sorting my summer plans and it looks like I’ll go back to work on January 14th, one day before my birthday, my 30th birthday, where I will no longer be in my 20s. I start feeling quite emotional This quickly progresses to tears (I’m a crier, especially when I need to release stuff). My rational mind is like ‘It’s only September Bel, chill out mate.’
I can feel it coming. Hello my old frenemy Panic last name Attack, it’s been quite a while.
THIS IS NOT A GOOD TIME PANIC ATTACK I HAVE TO DO A NATIONWIDE RADIO SHOW TODAY CAN WE DO THIS LATER?
Relentless, it’s on. If you’ve ever had or watched someone have a panic attack, you’ll know they are ugly. There’s something primal about them. I’m full on crying, holding on to my surroundings. It’s an old habit, I used to feel like I was going to get swallowed into the ground when I had a panic attack and had an irrational fear I was going to die it was so intense.
I swear it feels like you’re birthing a demon that doesn’t want to come out. Fear is furiously leaving your body.
I sit on the floor trying to turn my shallow breathing deeper. “Deep breathes Belly, breathe. You have got this, you are strong, you are ok, you are doing just fine, it’s going to be ok, you are safe.”
More breathing, I find some Lorazepam (a prescription medication used to treat anxiety) some rescue remedy and a calming essential oil I give a good sniff. Herbal tea and cold water and a rose quartz crystal I found in my pocket. I did it, it’s over. I get on with my day and did a really good show.
I could quite easily keep this to myself. I’m cautious to share, especially about my panic attack as I get worried people will use it against me, or think I’m not capable. The thing is people would never know if I didn’t share it. I have never let it affect my study or work.
TAMING YOUR MIND
I cannot stress enough that years of self-work and certain experiences have helped make me very mentally strong.
I am able to create space in these moments unlike when I was younger and overcome them pretty quickly.
Most of if not all of what we’re battling with is in our mind. Learn to train your mind. Be careful what you allow into it, this includes the way you speak to yourself. Meditate, practise mindfulness and positive self-talk daily and be grateful. Focus on all of the good in your life. There is always something to be grateful for.
PUSH THROUGH IT ANGELS
Whatever you are going through, push through it. Use it to fuel you and fill you up with strength.
People often ask me how radio announcers manage to do a show when you’re having a bad day or are upset.
First of all you get used to it and become really good at switching off anything affecting you while you’re on air. It’s a magical place where you don’t feel sad.
How I see it is I’m paid to do a show, it’s my job. Just like any other job you are paid to be there and do your work and be professional. I never want to bring anyone else down, I love to make people feel good (people pleaser from way back).
It’s not fair for my listeners if I don’t do a good job for them, so I push it aside and truck on 'cos I’m a battler from way back.
I’m very lucky to feel happy most of the time and I truly love my job, it’s one of my happy places.
LA Radio Host Yesi Ortiz put it perfectly on a ‘Girlboss’ podcast I listened to saying “It should be your sacred time to be fearless. Whatever’s going on you take that energy and you pour it back in as love into yourself and you give it all you’ve got.”
APPARENTLY THE I’M TURNING 30 FREAK OUT IS A THING
It’s the I should be in a long term relationship if not married, I should have children, an incredible career earning this much $$, own a house, the whole white picket fence (I’m sorry but I don’t think white picket fences look that cool anyway so who really cares) and have my life totally sorted by now. The I haven’t achieved anything or what I thought I would’ve by now. The I have failed and the fear you’re being left behind.
We’ve felt like we’ve had all the time in the world and then all of a sudden time catches up and you’re like 'well shit’ *insert put way too much pressure on yourself here.
EVERYONE’S TIMELINE IS DIFFERENT
Repeat after me: everyone’s timeline is different. And that’s totally ok. It does not mean there is anything wrong with you.
We fall into this human trap of comparing ourselves to others and where they’re at.
Some people will settle down and get married earlier and have a family, others like myself chose to focus on our careers.
I settled down early, bought a house at 24 and could’ve followed the ‘natural’ progression and stayed in that life for the rest of my life, but I chose not to because it wasn’t right anymore and I can’t not live my truth. How lucky are we to have the freedom of choice?
I live in a bigger city where there are more people and it’s perhaps more progressive. I know a lot of people in their late 20s and 30s that are single and don’t own houses. Having lived in regional New Zealand for a lot of my life I understand that things are not the same. I feel for people living in these places where most if not all of your friends are coupled up with houses and families, it’s hard to not feel like last one left.
SAYING GOODBYE TO OUR 20s, ADIOS AMIGO
Can’t I just be 29 forever? It’s just a number Belly who cares. But it signifies so much more. You’re closing the door and saying goodbye to a decade of your life.
A decade of memories, the really freaking good and the horrifically bad.
We’ve felt our best and our absolute worst.
We’ve gone through a serious amount of personal growth.
We’ve had a lot of really great times and plenty of shit ones. Our 20s are beautiful but often unpredictable times.
A lot of us have experienced very hard times in our 2os. Not getting into the course or the dream job we wanted. Painful break-ups, abusive relationships, sexual violation, addictions, deaths. I don’t mean to be the grim reaper bringing up the nasty times but our 20s can be so messy.
I overcame things I never thought I would and found myself in some scary situations, like when a boyfriend try to take his own life in my bedroom while I was asleep and endangered my life. I’m not trying to drop #poorme bombs, this is stuff I have well and truly worked through. I don’t dwell or think about it often and it doesn’t define me but shit I’ve seen some things and I’m proud of myself.
We’ve learnt a lot about life and how it really works.
We’ve got to meet and know so many different types of people. The lovers, the friendships which may have drifted and ended.
We’ve got to travel and experience new and exciting places.
All of the parties, drinking and hangovers (omg the hangovers that have seen us lying in bed with chronic hang-xiety for a whole day feeling like a dehydrated corpse (ok woah Bel GRIM tone it down a little).
THE SILVER LINING
We would not be the people we are without everything that’s happened in our 20s (and before then too).
It’s shaped us into the beautiful and strong people we are now. We know a lot more about ourselves and what we’re willing and not willing to accept in our lives and where we want to be.
Use it not to define you but carry you forward. Work through those hurdles until it no longer holds you back.
Instead of thinking about the things we don’t have, we need to focus on what we do and be proud of ourselves for what we have achieved. I’m a big fan of flipping things to the positive.
You only need to have a scroll back through your Facebook photos (omg cringe) to find photos from your past which just by looking at your can see your growth. I’ve dug out an old breakfast radio show photo from 2009 and on the right is the strong 29-year-old woman I’ve worked really hard to become.
Here’s to us and living our best lives in our own time.