I celebrated my 31st birthday a few months ago. I'm not panicking about growing old (honest) - in fact I like to think that I am embracing it. But, it has to be said that I have noticed some significant changes going on. From priorities and ideals to physical signs, there are several ways to tell that you are - most definitely - in the fourth decade of your life.
Here are 30:
1. Hangover Hell
The recovery rate from a boozy evening to feeling like a normal human being has slowed dramatically. You have a fair few beverages on a Friday and, somehow, you are still lagging by the Sunday. Send help.
2. Caffeine Hit
You need a coffee before you can even think about starting your day and then require caffeine on the hour, every hour, to get you through it.
3. Aches and Pains
Oh my. Walking up the stairs isn't as easy as it used to be, is it? Also, I'm sure I never used to let out an unexpected groan whenever I stood up.
4. Staying In
An evening snuggled on the sofa, in a blanket, with a glass of red in hand and a film on the TV becomes the perfect Friday night in. And Saturday. And most nights.
5. Take a Seat
When/if you do manage to drag yourself out for drinks (well done, you), finding somewhere to park your bum is of vital importance. No seat - no entry.
6. Pack your Flats
You used to be able to potter around in heels with no trouble at all. Now you never leave the house without a pair of trusty flats in your bag. (You definitely wouldn't have used the word, 'potter', back then either.)
Just. So. Comfy.
8. The Haircut (Fringes Only)
Once upon a time, your choice of a fringe (/bangs) was a style choice. Now it is far more practical, providing a wonderful shield for your wrinkly forehead and unkempt eyebrows. Attractive, huh?
Notebooks, anti-wrinkle cream and candles rapidly climb up the list of your top 10 gifts to receive.
10. The Gravity Game
Erm...excuse me, breasts - where do you think you're going? (Don't - just, don't.)
11. Going Grey
Thank the lord for hair dye.
You pull a complete 360 and wear your rucksack using BOTH straps again - with pride.
Deciding whether you should only show either legs or cleavage becomes a thing of the past, as you pull on your ten layers of clothing (thick tights 'n' all). FIT.
14. Green-eyed Monster
"Oh wow, have you seen what those girls are wearing?" we say, mouths open in shock at the flock of twenty-something-old beauties flaunting about in their skimpy clothing and bare legs. What? No, we are not jealous. MUCH.
LOL. YOLO. PML. ROFL. FOMO. FML - well, quite. Pass me a step-by-step guide on what is 'cool' to say please, because I don't have a flipping clue.
16. Childhood Memories
It seems so long ago since you were wearing Clarks Magic Steps shoes, hearing that (bloody annoying) dial up tone to get on t'internet, taping the radio on a cassette, arranging meet ups via the good old landline, playing on your Gameboy and watching Friends from the very beginning. It seems so long ago because it really was.
17. How Many Years?
When someone asks when you were at University and you start to count on your fingers only to realise that you don't have enough.
18. Hashtag Keep Up
Just as you are finally mastering the art of the retweet and the regram, some other social media tool/app/trend swoops in and leaves us all confuzzled once again. Blink and you miss it.
19. "Oooh, Isn't He Young"
The latest Hollywood hottie is no longer hot to us. He's twenty-one years old for goodness sake - far too young.
20. The Older Man
Who is that older, wiser, silver-foxed man over there? That's more like it. Yes please.
21. Grocery Shopping
We use to moan as our folks dragged us around M&S and Waitrose but now we pop in proudly and must tell everyone about it when we do. (When I'm not doing that, I'm moving a meeting so that I can be in for my Tesco delivery, because I can't possibly carry several bags of shopping anymore.)
Remaining calm as someone pushes in front of you in a queue or shoves you out of the way while getting on the tube is long gone. Now we tut. Really loudly.
You get better and better at what my friends and I like to call, 'life admin'. Bills, budgets, invoices, tax spreadsheets, insurance - who the hell am I?
You still love to handwrite your schedule in a paper diary.
25. Life Events
Approximately 12 weekends of your year ahead are now set aside for hen do's, weddings and such like.
People around you are having babies.
Facebook is full of babies.
You want a baby.
You can't look after a plant very well so begin to panic about having babies.
27. Being Addressed
Being referred to as a, 'girl' has been replaced by, 'ma'am', 'woman' and 'lady', and we aren't quite sure how we feel about that. (Or at least, I'm not.)
28. Getting Id'ed
You're at the counter with your alcohol. The cashier gives you the double take and you think, 'Go on - do it'. It actually happens - they ask for ID. Cue mini victory dance (unless you don't actually have any ID on you and have to walk out wine-less. Burn).
The older you get and the more life experience you store up, the less you care about the little things in life - we filter out the trivialities and focus on what really matters.
Now, this is the best thing about growing older - the beautiful realisation of knowing ourselves better than ever. It's empowering. We are confident in our strengths and how to use them and we note our weaknesses and how to work on them.
Oh, and if someone doesn't like us for who we are? Well they can, quite frankly, do one.