30 before 30 – things to be proud of

Tomorrow is my 30th birthday. At the moment, I feel pretty okay about that. No doubt it’s a big milestone, but I also don’t think 30 is old anymore. I never made a list of things I wanted to do before I’m 30, either, so there’s no sense of a deadline hanging over me. My 20s were huge in terms of personal growth – I feel like I’m coming out of them a totally different person in so many lot of ways. But I still like to celebrate birthdays in the same way so tomorrow will be a quiet day, with a proper celebration happening in May – a trip to Warner Brothers Studio, which I am way overexcited about!

One thing that seems to be remaining with me from my 20s to my 30s is an occasional lack of confidence. So, though I didn’t make a list of things I wanted to do before I turned 30, I would still like to make a 30 before 30 list – things I have accomplished or am proud of in other ways. Some are funny, some random, some serious, but all are important to me. I’ve found this a great way to put my life in perspective, and I hope it might inspire you to do the same. So, without further ado, in no particular order:

  • Become an aunt, twice.
  • IMG_3190
  • Fallen in love & gotten married.

    Dumbelton wedding May 24, 2014, in Mountain Grove, Mo.
    Dumbelton wedding May 24, 2014, in Mountain Grove, Mo.
  • On a related note, planned a handmade wedding from another continent. And made a wedding cake. And catered for 40 people.

    Dumbelton wedding May 24, 2014, in Mountain Grove, Mo.
    Dumbelton wedding May 24, 2014, in Mountain Grove, Mo.
  • Gotten over my fear of public speaking
  • Made croissants from scratch.
  • Used a recipe that has only a list of ingredients.
  • Helped build a house.
  • Travelled to another country for a job interview (and not gotten the job).
  • Held one of the jobs in my list of all-time dream jobs.
  • Arrived in a country without knowing where I was going to live.
  • Survived a sexual assault &, a few years later, revisited the area where it happened.
  • Marched in at least 3 domestic violence/sexual assault awareness events, 2 in the US and 1 in the UK.
  • Grown & donated my hair to Locks of Love at least 3 times.
  • jens ponytail cut off
  • Bought a house.
  • Spent several months researching & writing my MA dissertation in the Duke Humphrey’s library at the Bodleian.
  • Danced next to one of Babbage’s difference engines.
  • P1050865
  • Maintained deep & meaningful friendships across several countries & 2 continents.
  • Learned a second language (German).
  • Knitted a lace dress & worn it in public.
  • P1170731
  • Stayed overnight at a convent (visiting family).
  • IMG_0690_1
  • Sung as part of a small ensemble at a performance of Handel’s Messiah.
  • Drawn a picture that is still hanging up in a public place. (A picture of grapes & wine that I was paid $5 and is still on display at my mom’s workplace.)
  • Travelled to 8 countries and 11 of the U.S. states.
  • Learned to love being by myself.
  • Literally had my life saved by a church; I was severely depressed for part of university & there is at least one specific moment I am 99% sure I would’ve attempted suicide if I hadn’t had a friend from church I knew I could call. I consider myself extremely lucky.
  • Met Neil Gaiman twice.
  • P1150481
  • Gone overseas just for a concert (Arcade Fire in Berlin).
  • P1030630
  • Taken part in a falconry demonstration.
  • falconer
  • Taken 2 writing classes with one of the poets I admire most.

Oh, and I’ve had to wear coordinating outfits with my sister:


I guess that’s not as much as some people have done by the time they’re 30, but it’s not too bad, really. There are still a lot of things I’d like to do in the next 10 years – lots more travelling, lots more adventure and maybe even growing our family.



5 thoughts on “30 before 30 – things to be proud of”

  1. Happy birthday for tomorrow!!!!! 30 is not old in the slightest. 😃 As a woman it is an amazing decade. You are so lucky to just be starting it. I am about to turn 40 (but still don’t care). Getting older is a beautiful achievement. Each year that passes I am more “me” and more unapologetic for being me. Life is beautiful (even when the immediate is frankly shitty). So beautiful stranger, welcome to the 30s club 😃


  2. You’ve done lots of amazing things!!! A very happy birthday to you! I’m 35 now (gloooooooooooom!) and it’s not soo bad!!
    And yay for the Hallelujah (I played the Messiah recently!) and also for the church!!x


  3. Jennifer, I learned so much about you from this post. You are so incredible. And that dress you knitted, wowza. SO BEAUTIFUL! I know I am late on the birthday train but I am so happy to know you.


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