Reflections on Turning 30: all the things I never expected and more

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It seems to be the done thing to write a post about thoughts on reaching certain milestones in life, and I suppose 30, despite being a totally arbitrary number, is one of those milestones. If you’d asked Baby Sarah to comment on where I’d be at 30, well I probably wouldn’t be able to speak, but I’m sure I’d have a lot to say.

  • Still no horse…
    I cannot remember a time that I haven’t yearned for a horse. Ever since my mother first read me Miss Jump the Jockey I have peeked out my bedroom window every morning on my birthday, holding my breath on the off chance there’s a horse tied outside my window, like in the book. 30 birthdays later, still no horse. I think it’s fair to say that riding has given me more joy than anything else in my life and I am disappointed with myself that I haven’t yet achieved horse-parent status. Maybe I’m just not old enough yet…Having said that, I have now ridden horses all around the world, from Marwari horses in Rajasthan to Arabian horses in Oman, and travel is certainly something I would have had to cut back on had I had the financial burden of my own horse, so in many ways I’ve still managed to indulge my true love.

  • On that note, no husband and no children either!
    Of secondary importance to my desire to have a horse was my desire to be married and with 2 little darlings by 30. How very far off the mark that was! My younger self would be absolutely horrified at this childless and single status. But as they say, 30 is the new 20, and recent studies have shown that we only start stabilising emotionally when we get to 30. How can you find your forever person if you haven’t figured yourself out yet? I have met so many incredible people, and had the honour to share a lot of years of my life with one in particular, however I needed more time on my own.
  • Dealt with real loss
    On a more serious note, in the last few years I’ve come to realise just how much every person you meet is suffering their own personal battle, and harbouring their own grief. Part of being an actual adult seems to be having dealt with loss. In the past few years I have lost two people I truly loved – my Grandpa and my Holly dog.My grandfather was my role model in many ways, he was such a strong personality, he achieved so much in his life and he seemed to care little about anyone else’s opinion, carving his own path through life. Despite being rather prickly on the outside, he was the softest, kindest person I have ever met. I’ve now learnt that you don’t ever get over the loss of a loved one, you just learn to adjust to that pain, learn to live with it, learn that the pain is a manifestation of your love. I just hope he knew how much I loved him. When my Grandpa passed away he was 98 years old, and it really made me reflect on a meaningful life. Would I be proud of what I had achieved when I passed away, have I contributed in a positive way to this world? Grandpa fought in a World War, what had I done?
  • Recalculating..
    My military friends will understand the importance of a Nav Check – stopping to make sure you’re on the right route to your destination and haven’t accidentally steered off course. Additionally, destinations and goals can change and in which case, you need to allow your inner GPS to recalculate your new route. I always wanted to study Peace & Conflict Studies after my Undergraduate degree and work in that sector, and yet 4 years later I found myself working in a niche area of digital marketing. Even though my job was a lot of fun and I had the best colleagues I could have asked for, I wasn’t going in the right direction. So in 2016, with turning thirty looming ever closer, I stopped and recalculated.
  • Been through the desert on a horse with no name
    For a very long time I’d dreamt of spending a season working on a cattle ranch in the US and I finally realised that dream, quitting my job and getting on a flight into the unknown. For the first time in my life I left books and academia and what is now considered a traditional desk job behind. My new set of skills were a lot more physical, on top of the 6 or so hours of riding a day, observing and herding cattle, I also helped make and repair fences, learnt to trim hooves and shoe horses, vaccinate, brand and castrate the calves and all the other jobs associated with life on a ranch. It’s a tough grind, but for the first time in my life I felt like I was really doing something worthwhile, something that had meaning. If you ever want to get back in touch with your true self, ride across the desert on a horse!

    I’ve been through the desert on a horse with no name
    It felt good to be out of the rain
    In the desert you can remember your name

  • The Kindness of Strangers
    My mother’s favourite quote is from A Streetcar Named Desire: ‘I have always depended on the kindness of strangers,’ and I have to say, having now spent 30 years in this world, the kindness of strangers is real and it’s humbling. Pay it forward!
  • I joined the Army
    ‘See, I did join the army, but I joined a *different* army. I joined the one with the condos and the private rooms.’ – Pte BenjaminI can’t ignore the biggest elephant in the room. I suppose in hindsight it does make sense, camouflage cargo pants at the age of 10, military dog handler ID cards at 12 and dubious choices to swim in our outdoor pool in November because I wanted to be tough.

    Somewhat like Pte Benjamin in the classic movie, I struggled with the physical demands and basic green skills at first, but have eventually found my niche in the international and diplomatic sphere of the Armed Forces.

    Though my grandfather never got to see me commission, I remember him, and all those who made the sacrifice every time I put my uniform on.

  • Tried and failed to fix my snake phobia, have now accepted it
    Everyone who knows me knows that I have a rather crippling snake phobia, I am unable to look at photos and videos of real snakes without consequently suffering from vivid nightmares. When I was living at Cold Creek Ranch in Arizona,  Jean suggested I try hypnotherapy, and faced with the prospect of encountering rattlesnakes in my new job, I accepted any help gratefully. While the hypnotherapy worked on photos for a little while, Planet Earth II’s Iguana and Snake scene set me back to a level of phobia greater than ever before. I have now just decided to accept that snakes are evil and it’s only right and proper I shun them forever!
  •  Finally started playing Ice Hockey
    There are certain things in life that you always want to do, but you never quite find the time or make the time, even. However I’ve realised that life is unpredictable, you never know what will happen, so don’t put things off. In addition to wanting to work on a ranch, I’d also dreamt of playing ice hockey and last year I finally took the plunge. It is everything I ever hoped for and more. As much as I don’t like ‘bucket lists’, I’ve now written out a list of thirty things I want to do and have put off and I hope to complete them all in my thirtieth year.
    As Jack Kerouc said ‘in the end, you won’t remember the time you spent working in the office or mowing your lawn. Climb that goddamn mountain.‘ What is your mountain?
  • Family is Everything
    I’ll end these reflections by mentioning my family – my rock, my wolf pack. While I want to live a life that is meaningful and do a job that fulfils me, family is what matters most to me, both my blood family, and my extended London family. Like every family, we have our ups and downs but being together and supporting one another and giving unconditional love is what makes me truly happy.Over the past 30 years I have had the best of times and I have thrown myself at new opportunities and put myself out of my comfort zone time and time again. I’ve realised that the more you achieve, the more you realise you can achieve; the more experiences you survive, the stronger you realise you are.

‘I don’t know where I’m going from here, but I promise it won’t be boring.’

  • Chloe
    April 13, 2019

    This is so lovely, Sarah. You’ve spent your 30 years really well…and there’s always time for the horse. Also, I’ve never heard of Miss Jump the Jockey before but it looks super cute – will check it out for the baby niece!

  • Thomas Yellowley
    June 15, 2019

    Dear Sarah
    I haveput together some photos of your family history. If you give me your address of E’Mail I can send it to you. I like your photography.
    Kind regards
    Tom Yellowley

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