Single in your 30s: The beauty of being selfish

Written by Jenni Shaw

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I was listening to a podcast recently when the presenter used the phrase ‘positively selfish.’ It’s a phrase that seems to keep cropping up in my world, now becoming a mainstream term.

I then began to ask myself if ‘positively selfish’ could be an empowering way of describing the advantages of being a single 30-something. A single who (mostly) has their s**t together and is loving life.

Imaginary milestones

Society largely dictates that there are three main areas (or imaginary milestones, as I like to call them) in which one should be striving for that ‘s**t together’ status. They are: Job, Property and Partner.

It’s fairly ingrained in us that by the time you reach that milestone 30th birthday, you should (ideally) have the job of your dreams. Oh, whilst also owning a property and being settled in a perfect relationship.

No pressure then.

Now, I am in the very privileged position to have achieved two of these three ‘milestones’ (Job and Property, in case you’re wondering). I’ve come to the conclusion, however, that two out of three might in fact, be a pretty awesome scenario.

Hear me out.

The tough years

We’ve all been there: 20-somethings working all the hours under the sun for a pittance of a wage. And then there’s the emotional and mental rollercoaster of buying your first flat.

But now all of that’s done, how fantastic is it that we can live our 30’s and 40’s exercising some positive selfishness and enjoy life on our own terms?

Whilst I’m not denying the fact that I occasionally look on with a mix of envy and admiration at many of my married friends who are expertly popping out babies, I am also pretty thankful that I’m at a place in my life where I can do what I want, when I want.

Life lessons

I’ve realised that life is a continuous lesson, and the more I learn the more I find myself content with my situation, and my single life!

Throughout my teenage years and much of my twenties, I was so concerned with pleasing others that I didn’t exercise my right to an opinion. I would go along with whatever plans were on the table. I would agree with people even when I strongly disagreed. All so they would like me. 

With age comes wisdom (or so I’m told) and I now find myself with the confidence and life-experience to be respectful of my own time.

This, I believe, is where the concept of being positively selfish rings most true. I say no to things now, I choose to spend my time with the people that matter most to me. I voice my opinion, and I know it won’t make people dislike me.

If anything, they respect me more, and I am more fulfilled.

The benefit of being single and 30

Me only doing things I want to do is, I suppose, inherently selfish. There’s an upside, though. I am happy, and this happiness radiates into all areas of my life.

My positive selfishness (hopefully) means I am a much nicer person to be around, offering me the capacity be a better friend, sister, daughter and colleague.

Had I not spent my twenties stumbling through the minefield that is life and getting my proverbial s**t together, I wouldn’t be in the wonderful position that I now find myself.  

I understand that for some, this single (or as I prefer to say – solo) status may not be attractive – the call of the family too strong to ignore. Do remember, however, that there’s another view to be taken. A view that recognises we are in the unique position to live in the moment, to see the world and treat ourselves.

To live our best lives, as it were.

Embrace the freedom

To conclude, we’re all living much longer these days – we have plenty of time to settle down. So for now, I say we should relish the freedom that comes with being a 30-something solo with no responsibilities. Allow ourselves to be just a little bit smug as we live our positively selfish lives. 

Last week, I decided I wanted to go on holiday. Three hours later flights to Costa Rica were booked. Just saying…

EXERCISE YOUR RIGHT TO BE POSITIVELY SELFISH ON ONE OF THESE TRIPS…

Immerse yourself in Finland’s Arctic wilderness

Reindeers, snowmobiles, husky sleds and night-time Northern Light expeditions – our Finland adventure may be short but it’s oh so exciting. Fly beneath snow-laden boughs on an exhilarating husky sled before learning a new skill on cross-country skis, and end your days next to warm crackling fires in picturesque lodges. Just remember to always keep an eye on the sky for those illusive dancing lights.

Take me there

Smash your comfort zone in South Africa

More in the mood for adventures under a warming sun? Then South Africa could be your winner. Abseil down Table Mountain (yep, it’s a thing), learn to surf and spot the ‘Big 5’ on a game drive. Then, balance out the adrenaline with a touch of self-indulgence as you spend a day vineyard-hopping for tastings of some of South Africa’s most revered wines.

I’m ready, lets go

Explore the wild frontiers of Oman

From bustling, sense-assaulting souks to vast stretches of empty rolling dunes – Oman is a world of contrasts your inner nomad will relish exploring. Conquer dunes on a self-guided hike to your Bedouin camp in the heart of the Wahiba Sands desert and look up to a sky alive with the sparkle of stars. Invigorate yourself with a waterfall-jump into a hidden grotto and then haggle your way through a local market. A few days in and you’ll soon be an expert Arabian adventurer.

Get me to the dunes


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