Playlist: I’m Turning 30 Tomorrow — Here Are 20 Songs From My Twenties

Tomorrow, I turn 30.

Tomorrow is May 30, so it’s also my golden birthday.

I’m not sure how I feel about turning 30 yet.

But I do know this: There isn’t a single 30+ queer person in my life who doesn’t/didn’t like their thirties more than their twenties. My queer friends in and beyond their thirties agree with Jenna Rink from the film I have brought up approximately 75 times this year due to my impending big birthday, 13 Going On 30: Your thirties are iconic. Your thirties should be celebrated, not dreaded!

Sure, no one has claimed that a sudden sense of security or confidence or self-knowledge comes overnight the second you turn 30 (and many people have warned me that the hangovers are worse), but almost everyone I know talks about their thirties as a time for genuine self-actualization. It’s like your twenties are about figuring out what you like, and your thirties are about really doing those things you like.

And again, I’m not pretending like I’ll have everything figured out tomorrow or the next day or the next year or even in the first half of my thirties or even half of things figured out. I came out in my early twenties, and I already feel like such a different person than I was a decade ago. And yet. I also, in other ways, feel I am the same. You see why I’m not sure how I feel about turning 30, don’t you? I love paradox, and I love self-contradiction. I think my thirties will bring more clarity but also more questions.

This I know for sure: I want tomorrow to be full of friends, music, good food, good hair, loud laughs, a dash of Gemini chaos, costume changes, I know I already said good food but HOT DOGS, dancing, fernet, flowers, and say it again with me: good food.

I made a very poppy playlist for the occasion, selecting two songs from each year of my twenties, from 2012 through the end of 2021 — 20 songs for my twenties. I’m a big music video person, so find a playlist of all these music videos at the end of this post! Is this like the most BASIC pop playlist ever? Yes, and that feels exactly right for my birthday, which always falls on or around (in the case of this year, on!) Memorial Day, which is for many the official~ start of summer. I love mainstream pop year-round but especially during Gemini season. These are admittedly all songs I had on 🔂 at some point.

I plan on listening to the playlist while getting ready for my Yellowjackets-themed costume party that I ordered several tubes of fake blood for a few weeks ago. Heading into my 30th year, I remain very true to my brand.


I’m Turning 30 Tomorrow

  1. “Call Me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepsen
  2. “Diamonds” by Rihanna
  3. “Applause” by Lady Gaga
  4. “Work Bitch” by Britney Spears
  5. “Bang Bang” by Nicki Minaj, Jessie J, and Ariana Grande
  6. “Habits (Stay High)” by Tove Lo
  7. “Cool For The Summer” by Demi Lovato
  8. “Girls Like Girls” by Hayley Kiyoko
  9. “Work From Home” by Fifth Harmony
  10. “Work” by Rihanna
  11. “New Rules” by Dua Lipa
  12. “Strangers” by Halsey and Lauren Jauregui
  13. “Nobody” by Mitski
  14. “Miracle” by Chvrches
  15. “bad guy” by Billie Eilish
  16. “break up with your girlfriend, i’m bored” by Ariana Grande
  17. “Rascal (Superstar)” by Tinashe
  18. “XS” by Rina Sawayama
  19. “traitor” by Olivia Rodrigo
  20. “t r a n s p a r e n t  s o u l” by WILLOW


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Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya

Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya is the managing editor of Autostraddle and a lesbian writer of essays, short stories, and pop culture criticism living in Miami. She is the assistant managing editor of TriQuarterly, and her short stories appear or are forthcoming in McSweeney's Quarterly Concern, Joyland, Catapult, The Offing, and more. Some of her pop culture writing can be found at The A.V. Club, Vulture, The Cut, and others. You can follow her on Twitter or Instagram and learn more about her work on her website.

Kayla has written 459 articles for us.

6 Comments

  1. Happy birthday!!!!!!!!! I turned 31 this year. About 2 years ago, I dreaded turning 30 but it’s really not that bad! <3 Not much has changed, yet everything is different (now more than ever that my mom passed away at the beginning of this year), if that makes any sense?

    I know it's silly but I was pretty excited about turning 31 because there's 31 days in October lol I celebrated in my own way (put on a cherry 1950s dress, a pink feathered hairflower, boots, moon and stars fishnet stockings and black low-top Converse shoes) and went to Ruby's diner restaurant.

    Let's enjoy our 30s babes!

  2. I rented a roller skating rink (jointly with another grad student) for my 30th birthday party, and it was a very good time. I have to concur with many others that my 30s were so much better than my 20s.

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