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Dear Fifi: I'm nearly 30 and I don't feel like I've clocked up enough of life's milestones

Boo! It’s Dear Fifi time.


It’s nearly Halloween, which for many of us means discreet costume planning on work computers at lunchtime, trying to figure out if a ‘sexy Burger King’ or ‘sexy crushing sense of ennui’ costume is the right side of ironic or not. 

As for me? Costumes in general freak me out. I think it stems back to seeing two girls have a vicious argument at an 80s themed party when I was 16. There’s no dignity in a lot of tipsy antics, but add crimped hair, striped blusher and leg warmers? It’s a dose of Fear waiting to happen.


Hi Fifi,

I’d love your advice on what I think is an impossible problem. I’ll be turning thirty shortly and I don’t think that I’m hitting any milestones that everyone else seems to. I’ve been single for six years, I like my job but my salary is quite low so I’m limited in what I can do.

I don’t think I’ll ever be able to buy a house, especially as I’m single and not making a lot of money. Moving home with my parents isn’t an option. Do you have any advice on being happy in my circumstances and how I can stop comparing myself to my friends and colleagues?

When reading and thinking about your letter, one thing struck me straight away. You don’t mention how you specifically feel about all this – if your job fulfils you outside of the wage, if you’re quite content or rather lonely being single, if your rental or flatmate situation gets you down or adds stress to your life.

There are a lot of interesting, motivated and happy people out there who will not get married or be in the position to get a mortgage by 30. Or perhaps ever. In fact, outside of the professions for which this was never typically the path – the likes of artists, musicians, writers – the net is widening out to those in secure, so-called professional careers who will not follow this road either. What perhaps used to be a set railroad of milestones is diversifying, for many reasons.

Does it matter? Well, it matters if it matters to you. As difficult as it seems, lay down the rulebook. No one is enforcing a life timeline on you except you.

By all means, make an active attempt to get back into dating if you think a partner would improve your life, but not because you feel an arbitrary sense of obligation to get married by a certain age. If you feel undervalued in your career, seek recruitment guidance and make a plan to move on and upwards. A mortgage these days isn’t a certainty for anyone, but it may follow on from your career objectives, if that’s what you decide to go for.

It might not be those set things either – it could be taking up a hobby, studying again, travelling, volunteering, anything that makes you tick.

In terms of comparing yourself to others? It helps to remember, as often as possible, that no one’s life is as it appears from the outside. While you feel you’re coming up short, I can guarantee there’s someone looking at you thinking about how self-assured and independent you seem, envying where you are in life. The whole reason comparisons are fruitless is because we never really know what we’re comparing ourselves to.

(And bear in mind, people who want to confirm the validity of their own life choices may try to impose them onto you. Don’t take any shit in that regard.)

Do a bit of soul-searching. You’re nearly 30, it’s the time everyone freaks a bit. Harness the energy in your itchy feet to figure out where you really want to go and then make it happen. Just make sure it’s where you want to be, not where you think others have been before. And don’t forget to have fun!


Want to talk?

Confess a story, ask for help or just shout into the void for a bit and see if that helps. All welcome. Anonymity totally guaranteed always. 

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