My little sister turns thirty today. THIRTY! I’m pretty sure that even though we used to be seven years apart, she’s catching up to me and we’re getting closer and closer to converging at the same age. That’s possible, right?
I remember waking up on my 30th birthday and startling myself by starting to cry. I wasn’t even sure why, but for some reason turning thirty hit me much harder than I thought it would. Maybe it was because I didn’t know what the next decade would bring and the unknown can be scary. Maybe it was because I wasn’t measuring up to the expectations I had set for myself by this milestone. Maybe I was panicking about the fact that I could no longer deny that I was actually an adult, so I knew I had to start acting like one.
Little sister, if you’re having any of those anxieties, don’t fret. Your thirties are going to be the best decade. Here’s why:
1. The panicky “What am I going to do with my life?” self-questioning ends. At least sort of. Resume creation turns into resume updating and job interviews become easier because you actually have relevant experience you can expound upon (much better than having to make up bullshit about how your job waiting tables has prepared you to be an excellent project manager). After your first “real” job or two you have a trajectory to follow, a sense of where your current job could lead to, something you couldn’t fathom when you first graduated from college. Each piece of training, each gain in proficiency is a unique little snowflake, and you continue to build your repertoire of involvement and competencies, creating a gusty little success storm. Before you know it, your self-assurance and your expertise snowball into an avalanche of amazingness.
2. You stop renting with roommates. Finally you escape the financial need for roommates and you get out on your own, or you start living with someone because you actually like them and you want to, not because you found them through a desperate newspaper ad because you had to. Now you only have to deal with your own dust, your own dishes, your own pile of hair stuck in the drain at the bottom of the tub. (Why is your own pile of hair so much less disgusting than your roommate’s?) It’s true that home ownership can be a huge pain in the ass at times, but it’s worth not having to split the cable bill with a potential psychopath.
3. You decide whether or not you want to have kids. For some of us that decision can be hard, agonizing even, trying to weigh the pros and cons of maintaining freedoms like endless traveling, drinking margaritas at the bar until 11:00 pm every Thursday night, and comfortably retiring at an early age, versus bearing the great responsibility of having little mini-yous running around the house, ruining your furniture and obliterating any chance you might have had at staying up past 9 pm (even on the weekend) or buying that yacht when you’re in your fifties. It’s an important decision. A defining one. So, it’s a relief when you figure out where you stand.
4. You become comfortable in your own skin. You’re in good shape (quite possibly the best shape of your life) and you finally figure out what kind of clothes flatter your figure, which is no longer changing as wildly as it did in your teens and early twenties. You’re fit and you’re cute, and to top that off you begin to understand that looks don’t actually matter all that much, so you stop wasting time meticulously anointing yourself with eyeliner and foundation, or applying, taking off and reapplying mascara, or trying on a million outfits before deciding what to wear when you go out. You free up a lot of valuable time and you master the art of the messy bun. This combination of physical strength and mental confidence make you the sexiest you’ve ever been.
5. You figure out how to prioritize your time. This is the decade when you acknowledge that having a steady paycheck and a job with benefits is important. But you’re also beginning to notice how nutrition affects your energy levels, how good friends and work-life balance affect your well-being, how spending time with loved ones and how exercise and books and yoga (or whatever your hobbies of choice may be) are what enable you to fully inhale. And after you notice, you start planning and scheduling those things in. In other words, you finally figure out how to take care of yourself. This is the decade where you begin mastering the art of adulting.
The Thirties might be intimidating to the youngins who are worried about being over the hill, but those of us who have already crossed that hump know how awesome this decade really is.
Happy 30th, little sees. Welcome to your best decade yet.