Tag: Aging

Why (So Far) My 30s are Better Than My 20s

“With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come.” 
― William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice

I’m on the cusp of another birthday so I thought I’d reflect a bit on why, thus far, my 30s are leaving my 20s in the dust. I always looked forward to my 30s in my teenage years and young adulthood and I was not wrong to do so. You could not pay me to set the clock back to my previous decade. Here are a few reasons why:

Body confidence. Don’t get me wrong, I still have a shed load of insecurities but I’m no longer crippled by excruciating self hatred for my corporeal form. Thank god, I never want to go back to that dark self-inflicted shame spiral! I also, shock surprise, actually like quite a few things about my body which is a future 21 year old me could never imagine. Which was foolish and short sighted in the extreme because I now know in my 30s that my 20s body was pretty good and I miss it.

A somewhat congealed sense of self. I feel like everyone is a bit lost or up in the air in their 20s and though on paper I was ticking a lot of boxes, the truth was that I had no idea what I was doing most of the time. My identity was all over the place and most of my identifiers were external. Now, in my early 30s, I feel like I have a handle on my personality and personhood (warts and all). I may not like all my traits, but I also know which ones I want to work on improving, and which are 100% okay to accept. I own my likes and dislikes, my strengths and my terrible weaknesses, my ambitions and my shortcomings much more handily than I could have ever imagined a decade ago.

A developed professional grounding. Ten years ago I was about to graduate university and had no clue what I was getting into. Now I’ve been able to try a couple of different jobs and ways of working, and learned the things I value in a workplace. I’ve freelanced full time and worked in offices, and while I haven’t found the perfect balance (I’d like to get more creative or writing work back into my life), I’m earning where I feel I should be at the present moment.

Fewer ****s to give. I care less about what other people think about me than I have ever done and it’s great. There are a few, carefully identified people in my life whose good opinion matters to me and whose judgement I value. The commentary or disapproval of anyone not on that list barely registers anymore. This shift has been life changing.

Goals accomplished. There have been setback and surprises and there is a long list of life goals that I feel behind on, but in my 30s I feel like I can say I’ve started achieving some of the things I’ve prioritized and that are important to me. I wanted to move back to London, and we made it happen. I wanted to try to freelance full time and I did it for three years. I wanted to be making a certain salary and I’ve hustled hard towards that goal and it’s within reaching distance. Am I where I’d thought I’d be in all cases? HELL NO. Am I okay overall? HELL YES.

I’m going to spend the weekend being grateful for where I’m at.

30 Things I’ve Learned in 30 Years

“The afternoon knows what the morning never suspected.”
― Robert Frost

Be kind.

But…be your own first line of defense. If something is bad for you–a person, a habit, a situation, too much sugar–learn to say “no…”

Because “no” is a complete sentence.

It’s fine not to have a five year plan.

It’s okay to ask for help.

Mistakes do not a failed project, career, or life make. Messing up is inevitable and a lot less soul-destroying than anxiety often makes it appear.

It’s really nice to be liked, but not everyone is going to like you. That’s okay. Find the ones who do like you that you like back and hang out regularly.

Likewise, figure out whose good opinion truly matters to you and whose doesn’t. Prioritize accordingly.

Style matters and it’s occasionally okay to focus on the superficial. Make up is fun!

I am allowed to change my mind about desires and goals. So are other people for that matter.

Working hard is not the same thing as working smart and the former is a straight, fast shot to burnout if sustained too long…

Meaning that vacations are important. Take them. Don’t be such an puritanically-descended American. 

Ambition is not unattractive in people in general and women in particular. People who think it is have their own issues to work through.

No one is required to justify their emotions to me, nor I to anyone else. Emotions are real and true to the person experiencing them and just because I cannot see what someone else is going through, that doesn’t unmake its reality to that person.

Fear, intimidation, or lack of experience are inadequate reasons to avoid trying new things.

Being appreciated is not the same thing as being valued.

Stereotypes are useless; I like Louboutins and medieval history. Everyone else is just as fractal.

There is no “one right way” to do anything and people who claim there is generally have a lot of secondary agendas. The job, expectations, family set up, priorities, or working style of another person will not work for me and mine. If I want to demand respect and space for how I choose to live, I must in turn give the exact same courtesy to absolutely everyone else. Like unto stereotypes, judgement of how other people choose to make it work is pretty useless.

Intentions matter vitally. Where harm is not intended but caused, be generous whenever possible (again remembering rule 2).

I am not required to suck up unpleasant circumstances or experiences, particularly where there is no eventual benefit to be had.

Some circumstances require speaking up, others shutting up.

Anger is a tool to power you to and through an action, it should not be a permanent state. If it is, it’s time to change something big in your life.

In most situations, the worst thing that can happen is that someone will tell me, “No.” This, while not usually welcome, is far from the end of the world, and is also insufficient reason to give up.

Never, ever cede your will, or conscience to another person or group. Ever.

Self care is not selfish.

Relationships, whether personal or professional, are the most important things at the end of the day. Ensure the ones that matter and bring you the most value and joy are cultivated.

It’s easy to want, it’s harder but more important to establish needs.

Opportunities are not a blink-and-you’ve-missed-it phenomenon, they show up constantly. It’s learning to identify them and which ones to take that’s the challenge.

Anyone or anything that asks you to make yourself smaller, quieter, or more convenient to them does not have your best interest at heart.

And finally, my motto, life is not an either/or kind of situation. One path now does not preclude other paths later.




Pretentious Thoughts on Turning 29

“The afternoon knows what the morning never suspected.”
― Robert Frost

Granted I’m still in my 20s and therefore probably hilariously unqualified to make this statement, but I have zero problems with getting older.

I turned 29 at the start of the month and got a few friendly jibes about nearly being 30, which is no problem because most of my friends and acquaintances are hilarious and the puns were on point. But also, I’ve always looked forward to my 30s. I don’t know why, it just always seemed like a pretty decent decade to me, where in experience would be had and **** would be figured out, as they say.

2015-05-04 16.56.17

I’m not sure of achieving the latter in any notable way, but I’m still pretty positive that my 30s will hold a lot of good things that I’m looking forward to. I live in one of the world’s most incredible cities with a husband I’m rather partial to, we’re on our way out of student debt, in jobs that will turn into careers which we also happen to really like. I am infinitely more confident now than I was a decade ago, no doubt a result of being more skilled and technically intelligent. Getting older has come with some pretty great by products–a university degree, a good partner, almost ludicrously varied life experience, work skills, writing opportunities, travel… What on earth is there to be upset over about that? Wrinkles? Please!

Call me vain, but getting older also hold no fears thus far physically. Sure, I’ve already got some lines around my eyes started and still need to exercise more, but hand on my heart I can say that I look a lot better at 29 that I ever did at 19! I’ve never been hugely body-conscious, but neither have I been radically body confident, and I’m convinced that puberty is decently crummy all around on self-esteem. At 19 I still had a ton of teenage plumpness and, as a short girl, curves that were still not sure where they wanted to end up. At 29, things have settled down, symmetrically and largely without further incident. My figure and I fit each other (and probably more importantly, I’ve learned how to dress it. “Finally!” shouts my BFF from New York City who tried but failed to teach me the basics of hair care and style as early teenagers). I’ve grown into my own face. Or, perhaps this is all in my head and at 29 I simply care far less about what other people think about my looks and personality. This too is a delightful possibility.

I do not for one second subscribe to the idea that high school are college are the “best years of your life,” even if you have good experiences with them. I do not want to go back to being smaller (emotionally speaking, height-wise nothing has changed), dumber, narrower, less experienced, less confident, or less capable. I’m annoyed by social pressures, normally physical and largely directed towards women and girls, that make me feel like I’m supposed to stop, or worse turn back, the clock in some way.

Moving forward, I’ll get more wrinkles and my hair will go gray–I hope in patches so I can channel Stacey London. Or Cruella de Ville, whichever. I will wear bright lipstick until they nail my coffin down. I will keep learning to do things that feel beyond me. I may go back to school. I may have a family, if Jeff is persuasive enough. I will definitely get a dog. I will go fabulous places, both with my pretty awesome husband and by myself. I will keep doing work that intimidates me. I will probably be bad at most of these things at some point, and life will still tick on because I will also probably be good at some of them too.

The term “aging” needs to go. It’s called “living.”