I am so. very. tired of all of the "things to do before you're 30!" lists. I mean, what, if I didn't do those things by now I missed the boat? I'm calling BS on that. Sure, I did some pretty cool stuff in my 20s. Stuff that shaped who I am now. Started a business, traveled to Paris, published a book, etc. I have found, however, that the older/wiser I get the more I appreciate things. The more I've had to work for them is one reason but another is that I am able to enjoy things more. I have more of a frame of reference, I have more financial ability, I know myself better and can therefore assess any kind of experience with new clarity.
So, in that light and in honor of my 32nd birthday today I give you 16 Things That Are Even Better In Your 30s.
1. Travel - You make better choices about where to go and what to care about. You know it's ok to go to bed early in your hotel room. You experience culture from a different perspective. You keep away from tourist traps (hopefully!) and instead experience truly the best of what a city has to offer.
2. The Actual Process of Traveling - You know what to pack and what not to pack. You don't get flustered in long airport lines. You no longer worry about who will take you to or pick you up from the airport because you just call a cab or Uber like a grown-up. And at this point you may even have real-life friends you met at an airport bar. (Hi Doug from the Chicago airport! Hey Matt from...wait where did we meet?)
3. Moving - Yep. Packing boxes isn't an issue. You know what goes where and how to wrap it and label it, and you hire movers. Someone else gets to carry the stuff and drive it to the new house. Holy moly. A huge thanks to South Hills Movers for taking my stuff all over the country. Godsends, they are.
4. Clutter - Whether you're moving or just cleaning house, your attachment to things has changed. You may cry when something seemingly insignificant breaks because to you it mattered, but you can also pitch boxes of stuff that just doesn't matter anymore.
5. Taxes - I still have a breakdown every year when tax time looms, but instead of crying on the phone with my dad while he tries to tell me what numbers to write where, I just sent everything to my accountant and say a prayer.
6. Community - Aside from your movers and your accountant, of course. Your friends become your connection to the world, and you choose them well. There's not cattiness or pettiness. No more drama. They are the people you work with, you celebrate milestones with, you sip wine and share belly laughs with, who see you and love you for exactly who you are, and who come to admire your new home, grateful they didn't have to help you move.
7. Alone Time - As amazing as your friends are, by now you know that you don't need them around all the time reminding you how great you are. You can spend a Friday night in with Scandal on Netflix. You can travel, check in to your hotel, find your way to dinner, and sit there alone and enjoy it. You can hear your inner voice and know what its asking you for, and then you make it happen.
8. Dating - It's no longer that personal. He is for you or he isn't. You really like him or you don't. It's working well,even if sometimes it's work, or it isn't. You communicate more kindly and boldly, you listen more openly and bravely. You know what you can accept and what you will not. And you know that, if you're single, you don't need to be dating all the time. (Side note: If you're married, you're still dating your spouse - or you'd better be!)
9. Break-Ups - Hopefully by now you've had at least one break up that, despite it being horrible and not what you wanted when you set out and all that, ended with a kind of, "well, I still really love you and wish you well and will cheer you on." As opposed to, of course, imagining all the ways you may injure or punish or secretly ruin the life of this person.
10. Food - Yes, by now you know it matters what you put into your body. A night of drinking doesn't sit the same way, and you've learned to eliminate (or let's be real, limit) those. You choose organic or locally grown or grass fed or whatever when possible. You don't make dinner of ramen noodles and a bag of chips. Ever. But at the same time you can enjoy a piece of cake at a friends party, or a half pint of gelato while watching Scandal, or a burger and fries at dinner with friends, and not beat yourself up about it.
11. Feelings - They're yours. You own them. You can be aware of them and assess them and share them or not share them and if you do share them you can carefully decide who with. You don't have to make excuses for them. They don't have to make sense, but you can always find a cause even if not logical reason. And you can ask for help when they're too much for you to handle, even if that means seeking counseling.
12. Investing in Wardrobe - You bought all those stupid things in years past. (A green striped polo shirt that was not cute, not flattering, and not quality fabric. Then $13 martinis at a bar where you could be "seen," except you were wearing the terrible polo shirt, so that was a wash.) You now blissfully ignore the latest trends in lieu of personal style. You know what you like, what suits you, what fits into your wardrobe, where to buy it, and how much is fair to spend on it, high or low. And fear of judgement of any of this is a thing of the past.
13. Money - Aside from building the killer wardrobe over time, and probably mostly in black, you make better decisions about where to direct your money in other ways. Savings, investments, life and health insurance, travel, food, fitness... You can choose when and where and how much. Hopefully you have more income to work with, and less debt.
14. Home - The art is framed and not taped to the wall. You dust your baseboards. Things match. That's pretty much all it takes.
15. Work - In your 20s you were a waitress, a retail salesperson, a babysitter, a mail sorter, a coffee runner, a personal assistant, an intern, an intern again, and then you began working in maybe, hopefully something that related to your college degree. And maybe you were right or wrong about how much you'd like that thing. By now, whatever you're doing, you can kind of see how all those things formed a kind of path and you actually, really like what you do each day. You're pretty good at it. And you want to keep doing it. I think the word here is career - you have a career!
16. Love - This is debatable, honestly. There was something pretty awesome about falling in love when I was seventeen and being completely blissfully unaware of the hurt that love could do. But then again, even that first love came with some tumultuousness after a certain amount of time, so none be spared. What's better now is you know how precious love is, that it's a choice and and action and not just a feeling, and it no longer takes you away from the true core of who you are.