Age is just a number, or so people tell you as your particular number begins to grow. As I find my 30th birthday fast approaching, now measured by days rather than years, I find myself a little bit excited. I know, every woman is bombarded with messages telling her to dread her thirties. We are taught, from a very young age, that 30 is when our ovaries shrivel up and die, when men stop caring about our existence (which apparently is the only thing women are supposed to care about), and if we aren’t already "successful" (by whose measure?) by the time we hit That Age, it becomes official that we probably never will be. At 30, there’s supposed to be nothing left to look forward to. Life is settled and there’s nothing to be done. And also, we get old and ugly. This is what we're told. So if turning 30 is supposed to be so terrible, why do I feel like I can’t wait to embrace it?

I’m not grossly naïve or expecting some previously unknown trust fund to kick in; I'm not expecting my life to change for the better in some dramatic way; There's nothing unusual about my life that I'm about to reveal which will illuminate my "unusual" happy anticipation for turning this age corner. Nope, my reasons for excitement are pretty standard things. To be perfectly frank, they are the reasons I think every woman should be looking forward to 30, or looking back with fondness if the day has already gone by. Because maybe, the best things in life are still in my future. And even if they're not, doesn't it just make sense to always kinda believe the best things are still ahead? Maybe, possibly, I hope, the road doesn’t end here. But here are some reasons I’m genuinely excited about turning 30:

I Know Who I Am

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OK, I get that this is a very cliché thing to say, but it would be a huge oversight to exclude it from this list. There’s something about finally figuring out who you are that makes the future more exciting.When I turned 20, everything was an open-ended question. While that felt freeing at times, it also meant I spent a great deal of time and energy on things that didn’t really matter to me. Older and somewhat wiser, I’m able to choose to spend my time and energy on the things that match best with who I am – and figuring myself out was something that only came from time. Maybe it's nice to feel like you have "all the time in the world" in your 20s, but what's even nicer? Knowing yourself well enough to make way better use of your time in your 30s.

I'm Moving Forward

I’m not in the exact spot I want to be. I don’t have everything I eventually want to have (translation: still stamps to put in my passport and people left to hug). But every day is an opportunity for forward momentum, and I feel infinitely better equipped to effectually get myself to where I want to be now. I have more tools in my belt. I'm better at my life. 30 used to feel like an expiration of sorts and now it feels like a new adventure, and one I'm better prepared to take.

I Can Do My Own Taxes

This and a dozen other things like it are why I look forward to aging. I may not have six-pack abs anymore, but I have knowledge and understanding, certainty in tackling challenges, which is something I didn’t have in my 20s.

I Have Real Friends

When my daughter was little, every new child she met was her “best friend” and there was no telling her otherwise. I guess we’re all like that to some extent. In our youth, we think the people we love are the people we will love forever. I’m excited that the friends I have now are friends who have endured the real-life stuff. We’ve been there through the big moments together like getting our advanced degrees, weathering breakups, and attending funerals. We’ve spent enough of our lives and enough of our emotions to know we will be there for everything and anything and always.

I've Loved And Lost And It Didn't Kill Me

There are certain emotional events in your teens and 20s that you think will kill you. You feel so certain, at one point or another, that there are people you can’t live without. Then you wake up one cold, fall morning and realize you’ve lived years without them and it didn’t crush you. You’re able to smile about the good memories and let go of the rest.

I Know What I Want

I have desires, ambition, and goals left to achieve. Maybe I’m not as far along in my career as some would say I should be but I know what I want and I’m going after it.

I Know What I Like

Whether it’s in the bedroom, the kitchen, or my professional life, I know exactly what I want and am able to communicate it clearly. Albeit, sometimes I still end up communicating what I want with a scream that’s less articulate than it is impressive, but still, at least I know what it is I'm screaming for.

I Don't Know Everything, And I'm Fine With That

I realize this isn’t the standard reason for being excited about turning 30 but it’s been a progression of understanding. When I was 5 years old, I firmly believed I knew everything and was in complete control. When I was 16, I was positive I knew more than everyone around me. A few days from 30, I laugh at the vast expanse of what I don’t know. Because it’s deep and wide and bigger than anything I could ever imagine. But that’s half the fun. If I learned anything in my 20s, it’s that there’s more to learn. And what could be more exciting?

Images: Tonglé Dakum/Unsplash; Giphy(8)