Ah, the dreaded 3-0.
You probably didn’t think you’d even live this long, but alas, you have. I used to think I’d hate being 30 and that once I was out of my 20’s I’d officially be “old.” Each year approaching 30 was one step closer to my grave and the loss of my youth. But when the day finally reared its ugly head, it was as though a burden had been lifted off of my shoulders. My 30th birthday was a breath of fresh air in an otherwise stagnant state of being.
You are about to read about being 30 from two people who live very different lives with different struggles, different backgrounds, and different obligations who have one big thing in common… we both embrace the fact that we are at this point in our lives.
You are in the prime of your life, BAYBEE! You’ve managed to survive your doubting twenties, now it’s time to release your inner Tina Turner. But before you go rolling on the river, let’s take a look at some of things that brought us here.
In your teens you were infallible. Even if you failed, you knew you had time on your side, but this conviction progressively withers as you stumble in your twenties. You suddenly get extremely anxious about silly things like not finishing your AA/AS in two years, and any trace of residual cockiness is replaced with existential insecurities about who, why and what you are. You soon realize you have a lot to learn and you can’t keep eating all the fish tacos you want.
Although you are convinced your twenties are the prime of your life, silly insecurities simply drag you down and quietly seep to other areas of your life. However, the closer you are to your thirties the more you realize you are in control of your own universe, and, as long as you keep opening doors, you will find the right path for you. This, my friend, is why your thirties are the cream cheese on God’s bagel. While twenty year old you is stuffing your body with all sorts of things because you don’t think anyone will ever love you, thirty year old you is too much into yourself to be into anyone else. Thirty year old you is screaming, “I’m Oprah; hear me unwrap a turkey sandwich!” So you get the best of both worlds: you still eat all the Chicken burgers you want, but you don’t lie to yourself about it. This is my body, and I am making daily decisions to shape it, good or bad. If I don’t change it, it is only because it is not my priority. “It’s my body; I do what I want” takes on a different meaning. You grow to be comfortable under your skin. To put it in plain terms, you just stop caring so much about what other people think, and start thinking about what makes you happy, even if that means eating all the cheese fries you can.
Pause with me for a minute. Look around you. What’s your reality? What are the lies you tell yourself every day? What can you do on a daily basis to steer away from them? You want to build up toward a drama-free, safe, and adventurous future. What decisions are you making today to make it a reality in your future?
It’s not you; it’s me (but mostly you)
Dating is a huge part of your twenties. You are learning who you are as a person through your interactions with other people. Along the way, you probably dated a few people. I know my range spanned from sane and spiritual to all kinds of deranged people. In my twenties if I knew I was going out on a date, I would start getting ready about six hours ahead of time, which only takes into account the time invested in shower, shaving, hair, makeup, putting on clothes. The day before, I would get my nails done, or do something else that would make me feel good about myself, like get a facial. Thirty-year-old me doesn’t give a flying ****. Is my beard too long? I’m wearing the same clothes I slept in? Who cares! Let’s go get a Slurpee! Life’s just too short, man!
On the flip side, I used to get intense anxiety if I had to break up with someone, but thirty-year-old me breaks up with panache- usually in the form of toilet selfies until the other person stops responding. Of course you can always go to the good old “it’s not you it’s me”, and you definitely should if the other person is into toilet selfies, but spice it up. Thirty-year-old you is a grown adult, and you understand that your needs come first, so you make the adult decision of not staying with someone because the other person wants to be with you (even if you want out of the relationship).
In your twenties, an even bigger part of beginning or ending a relationship is actually staying in one. If you were anything like me as a twenty-something year old, you probably equated negative attention as a form of love. Whether it’s because that’s the only form of love you knew growing up or because you think so low of yourself that you see it as a good thing (or both), you thought the words “you are SO stupid” were cute and funny. It’s not; it’s abusive and toxic. Guess what, these words are demeaning and will slowly tear your soul at the seams. Don’t ever let anyone who is supposed to love you tell you that you are dumb, even as a joke. You are a beautiful German garden gnome, even with all your faults you are better than most. In your thirties you learn how to differentiate good from bad in all aspects of life, intimacy and love being one of them.
It’s as if by some divine miracle you understand that all these insecurities were only in your head, and you just don’t give a fudge. You start to see a reverse of what you went through in your twenties. You start to care a little less about what other people think and more about what makes you happy. Sure, you still pass on dessert at social gatherings only to stop by the doughnut shop on your way home, but you judge yourself a little less for doing that. You welcome your thirties prepared to navigate the emotional situations you are faced with. With a leveled head you can identify and emotionally articulate your thoughts and feelings.
Finding meaning in yourself instead of in things.
I know this sounds very Julia Roberts in “Eat, Love, Pray”, but it’s a little bit true… When you are in your twenties you think you need all this stuff... Cooking stuff, clothes, toothpaste, etc, but your thirties teach you how to be practical. What do I really need? Do I want to keep hoarding ketchup and butter packets in the fridge? I don’t even like ketchup that much…. I heard it has rat shit... Throw it in the trash. In its place a myriad of new, practical things become important such as: sunscreen, lotion, sensitive shoes, transition eyeglasses, pumice stones, and baking soda.
You know what you need to do in order to get to where you want to get. You understand and come to accept that different people have different paths in life, and all these paths are different, but so long as you keep opening doors, they will take you to the right place in life. You will be where you are supposed to be. Even if a little bit of doubt persists, you have a stronger sense that you will make the life that you want for yourself if you keep working toward it every day…. We all have to burn these stages in life, but don’t be so hard on yourself, your thirties are almost here (or already here). A good friend once said, “why do you care so much, ain’t nobody got shit on you”. They don't.
Thanks, Cecilia. I’ll take it from here. I am so ecstatic every day knowing that I have gotten myself over the hump of my twenties. People say that your twenties are the best years of your life, and they wish they could be young again. I, for one, would jump off a bridge if I had to live my twenties again. Here is why thirty is better than any age that precedes it:
The heartache of your twenties is over. Let’s face it. Bad shit happens to you when you are in your twenties; events that are probably more upsetting than the drama-filled garbage that hurt you as a teenager. You are going to suffer some serious blows and you are going to have to learn to overcome them and deal with them… as an adult. You can’t count on your family to fix the problems for you like you did when you were younger, and it’s just. Plain. HARD. Here’s the thing though, you only have to go through that heartache once. That’s not to say that bad things won’t happen to you ever again, nor that the exact same bad thing won’t happen more than once, but next time it won’t hurt as bad. It won’t shock you as much because you’ve already been through it. You’re stronger, older, wiser, have different priorities, and understand how to deal with these shit storms. You can open up your history of pain and use those hardships to your advantage! Thirty year old you doesn’t have time to waste feeling bad about this. Thirty year old you is going to climb whatever mountain comes your way, and you are going to come down the other side a better, stronger person, and forty year old you is going to take these types of hits EVEN BETTER.
Filling Holes. For me, I used to try to fill the emptiness inside of myself with things like… hmmmm... Heavy drinking, Taco Bell, other people, things that hurt me and I knew they hurt me but I did it to spite myself, and so on and so forth. As you get older, you get to know yourself better. I understand myself so much more than I did in years past and I understand the itches I get. I know that I can’t count on other people to make me happy, because they will let me down every time; not necessarily on purpose, but because they are also their own individual human unit and it is not their job to make me happy. People have their own agendas, their own motives, their own problems, and I cannot count on them to fix me. Any hole they fill for me is only temporary, (Freudian slip, *high five*), and if I rely on others to make me happy, then I will ultimately be let down, searching for something else to be a liquid band aid.
I can fill my own holes permanently if I am doing what I love and getting enjoyment out of it. It’s as simple as that.
CONFIDENCE AND FREEDOM! I spent a lot of time during the past ten years feeling bad for and about myself because I had so many dreams, but felt like I was incapable of meeting them. I faced a lot of rejection and it made me question my worth. I felt I had done everything that I was always told to do to have a successful life, and it still wasn’t enough. Sure, I went to college, even got a master’s degree, but I could not get a job as a teacher. Sure, the economy was bad in California and a lot of people were in my situation, but I took it really personally. This rejection and intense, constant personal reflection stopped me from doing a lot of things because I felt like I would either be rejected yet again, fail at them, or who even knows what else.
As I got older, I used my negative experiences to push me to keep trying and eventually I got that teaching job I always wanted. At this time, I was more prepared for it because I was more mature, and it meant that much more to me. Had I gotten it when I was 23, I wouldn’t have been very good at it because I just wasn’t ready, (as much as I thought I was).
I also stopped myself from doing things I wanted to do for no real reason other than the whole “I can’t do it now, but I can do it someday” mentality. I got to the point where I asked myself, what am I waiting for? I can do it now. And I did. I went skydiving, bungee jumping, started getting tattoos, shaved half my head (it’s cute, not crazy), started traveling more, started going places and living each day as an individual unit, not just saying that I would wait until the weekend or wait until I was older… I started doing it NOW. Because, why the hell not?
Stop sulking. Get out of your own head. Go get after it. Before you know it, you'll be 31. Don't let it slip by. We're with you all the way.
Ashley and Cecilia work hard, play hard, write stuff, read stuff... because they don't know what else to do with their lives.
I- We should buy something superficial
II- Buy odd clothing
I- An Unusual Social Event
I- We should go somewhere with dangerous animals
I- Somewhere with strange food
When we get ten total votes, the item with the highest number of votes will be our next expedition.
(One vote per reader, per category).