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Billie Piper nails the big difference between life in your 20s and 30s

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Kayleigh Dray
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Billie Piper has opened up about undergoing a “massive life crisis” in a powerful new interview.

Last year, Billie Piper and Lucy Prebble, the writer of Secret Diary of a Call Girl, confirmed that they’re creating a new TV show together, which is focused on a woman in her 30s going through a life crisis.

Discussing the as-yet unnamed project with Stylist at the time, Prebble said the show would focus on a woman in her 30s going through a life crisis – a topic which she and Piper could “both relate to”.

It’s a fair point: in 2016, Piper ended her eight-year marriage to actor Laurence Fox. Within eighteen months, the actress had embarked on an emotionally shattering performance at the Young Vic with Yerma – and collected a prestigious Olivier Award for Best Actress in the process.

Now, in an endearingly frank appearance on the Stagecraft with Gordon Cox podcast, Piper has addressed her own “life crisis”, opening up about the difference between life in your 20s and 30s in the process.

“I think [your 30s] are very challenging,” she said during the episode.

“ I think your 30s are a time when you start reflecting on everything you have or haven’t achieved, and where you’re going and what your mental health is like — are you in a circle of repetitive, negative behaviours?”

Piper continued: “Your 20s are fun, wild and without consequence. Obviously there are dark moments in your 20s, but pretty much when you compare them to your thirties, they’re a bloody walk in the park.

“In your 30s it’s like, ‘Wow, s**t is getting real’.”

The award-winning actress added: “It’s a good climate to talk about being a woman and what you’re subjected to and how you move forward.

“You have to laugh at a moment’s life crisis because otherwise it just kills you.”

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Of course, Piper is not alone in experiencing this sense of crisis – many of us feel a burst of unrest when we transition from our 20s into our 30s. 

This can be due to any number of reasons, be it the fact that you’re actually settling down, reflecting more on your past, feeling increasingly unsatisfied in your chosen career, or worrying that certain doors are being closed off to you. Above all else, you may be feeling pressured to make big decisions about your personal life, which is enough to make anyone feel under attack (it’s pretty much a guarantee that thoughtless friends and family members will begin making those annoying ‘biological clock’ comments as soon as you hit 30).

In short, it’s a difficult time, to say the least. So what do we do about it?

Professor Robert Taibbi, writing for Psychology Today, suggests that you use this period of unrest for “self-reflection and recalibration”.

“What is it that you need most now?” he suggests we ask ourselves. “How, based on what you believe and have learned, is most important for you to focus upon now? What on a good day is your purpose of your life?”

Taibbi adds: “Realise that, though you may feel trapped at times, you are actually never trapped and it is matter of realising your choices, however limited right now they may seem… take the risk of speaking up rather than biting your tongue [and explore] new activities through lessons and volunteering.

“Not achieving a goal doesn’t mean failure but that there may be another road that you need to explore and take.”

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While Taibbi warns against making any big changes on a whim, there is no denying that these decisions can help you feel as if you are regaining control over your life.

When Prebble interviewed Piper for Stylist last year, she asked the Collateral star if there was a “specific moment” in her life when she thought ‘I am going to change things’.

Piper responded: “Yeah. I think there are times when you change something quite fundamental because something in your life becomes unmanageable and then you get addicted to changing things. So the temptation is to change everything, which has the reverse effect and causes more trauma than is healthy.”

She added: “I feel like taking risks professionally has always really paid off for me. I don’t think about work being risk-taking and strategic moves. I just think if I don’t do different things, I get bored, so most of the changes – the decision to play a prostitute or a woman who can’t have a baby – are born out of boredom in a way… not boredom, but like a sense of adventure.

“I feel like doing Secret Diary was a massive risk, but I didn’t feel the risk and I think that backfired a bit, but it led me to you! So I feel like some of the backlash from that was worth it. I feel like everything is part of some cosmic plan.”

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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is editor of Stylist.co.uk, where she chases after rogue apostrophes and specialises in films, comic books, feminism and television. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends. 

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