Wait- you're how old?
Updated: May 21
Time and tide wait for no man, but time always stands still for a woman of thirty. -Robert Frost
The day I turned 30, I had one of those moments. You know the one- a: “what the actual f**k” moment. One minute I had been in my 20s, with a whole life and world ahead of me and no need for anything other than impulsive decisions. Now I was a full-fledged adult who had to know about things like the constantly changing socio-economic climate and how to do my own taxes. I don’t even like scheduling my own doctor appointments, so the thought that I was now considered capable of that, and more, scared the crap out of me. I remember my 30th birthday party- a trip to San Diego- and I remember hitting downtown one of the nights, ready to get hammered in celebration. But the strange part was, I didn’t get hammered- I hardly even got drunk. I ended up making sure everyone else was having a good night, not getting too wasted, being safe. And that was when it hit me- this was adulting. The reality was more depressing than the lead-up. I was now the person who checked on everyone and told them to drink water, all while pulling saltine crackers out of the purse that used to hold lip gloss and condoms (sorry, Mom) to help sober people up.
Look, I am being a tad dramatic. After the initial shock of turning 30, I settled into it (kind of) and I realized there were some perks to being older and slightly wiser. I also learned some important facts about turning that corner from 20 to 30, and that it isn’t as scary as it sounds. So, for all my thirty-year-olds out there, these are some pieces of wisdom I have gained while navigating my early years in the “official” adult world.
“I don’t even have a pla..”- Phoebe Buffay
Growing up with older cousins, I thought by your twenties you had met the love of your life (we will come back to this one) and were on your way to seeking that picture-perfect life. Your career was a few years under your belt, maybe kids were on the horizon, and you definitely had a nice starter house or condo. That was how I saw their lives, anyways. I’m sure it wasn’t always sunshine and daisies, but they had a plan. Most of them knew where their lives would take them, and when they finished school many walked right into those dream jobs. My parents were the same- they came from a generation where you had a plan. Even if that plan changed, you changed with it to make it come to fruition.
When I got to 30, I realized that quote from Friends- you know the one Phoebe depressingly adds when the girls are worried about their lives: “I don’t even have a pla..”(Phoebe Buffay from Friends). Yeah, that quote was my new mantra. It summed up my entire world. I had no plans. I had been working in the nightclub industry in Las Vegas since I was 24, and I had no clear vision of what was next when, eventually, I was too old to sell party tours. Which let’s be honest, at that point I was. It is one thing to tell 21 years old’s the party is going to be “lit” when you are in your twenties. Once you hit 30, saying things like “lit” in a non-ironic way feels strange. So, one day I decided to start doing what I felt I do best. I started writing. I was just doing it on the side, nothing big. But I noticed I was getting more and more writing jobs and spending less time worrying about my future. If I was writing, I was working toward something.
I was also talking to a lot of my friends, many of which are in the same age group. None of them had a plan. Everyone seemed content to be winging it- working when they wanted (or needed) to and using their savings to travel when they could. Not one of my friends could tell me their 5-year plan, because our generation doesn’t really work like that anymore.
While generations before us had a set schedule, and generations after us are still learning their place, we are the free spirits who have our foot in both. We can see the world through the incredible technology only developed in the last few decades, but we also learned about it through stories from our parents and grandparents. As for us? We are the ones that want to see and experience it firsthand. We want to explore the world before we settle down into it, and we want to find out about our roots before we plant new ones. I found, over these last few years, that there is no shame in not having a plan. In fact, I implore you to embrace the “plan-free” lifestyle and let your soul roam. There is plenty of time left to settle down, but once you do it is always harder to go back out to that freedom.
It is in the thirties that we want friends. In the forties we know they won’t save us any more than love did. -F. Scott Fitzgerald
As for the topics of love, building families and having kids: being 30 always seemed to be the time those decisions became set in stone. What do we say to everyone who asks when we are going to get married or have kids, when many of us are choosing not to? How do we tell people we enjoy the excitement and the thrill of encountering new people and falling a little bit in love with everyone we meet? What is the huge rush to find someone and settle, when we are still finding ourselves? So many more people started asking me after 30 when I was going to have kids, and my answer was never what they wanted to hear. But while I kept disappointing them, I was enriching myself by building a stronger relationship with the most important person: me.
I’m not ready to give myself completely to a kid, nor do I know if I personally will ever be. I still want to be a little bit selfish, but I urge those of you that feel you are ready- don’t rush or push it because you are racing against time. Your time will come to have the perfect family, but it is ok that things haven’t fallen into place quite yet. Your thirties will fly by, sure, but they will also last longer than you think. Take this time to keep learning about yourself and falling more in love with that person, so when you meet the right guy or girl and have that beautiful child, you will have such a full heart to give.
My final thoughts on being 30 thus far are this:
· You are wiser and therefore less inclined to make all the mistakes you made in your 20’s, though you’ll continue to make some.
· You get more excited about the little things: warm coffee on a cold morning in your pjs, fresh sheets and clean towels, and Target runs that you can now (almost) afford because you are kind of an adult.
· You stop overthinking or caring about what others think. Look, we are already 30, our 20s are gone, so what is the point in worrying about that douche bag who never called or what you’re going to wear to the club. Let’s face it, we’re probably going to be too tired to go out in the end, anyways.
· Drinking alone is more socially acceptable. I made this one up, but thus far I have had zero pushback on it. Don’t overdo, of course. But a glass of wine while you pop on [someone else’s] Netflix (because does anyone really have their own account?) by yourself is just heavenly.
· Potentially, 30 is a good age to own a dog, and then you technically would not be drinking alone.
So, for anyone about to turn the big 3-0, or all of us that are already there, don’t fret. It is actually a fabulous adventure. Sure, you are too old for some behaviors, but you really don’t miss them once they are gone.
Share your comments, tips, or stories about your 30s below!