I turned 31 this week and all year I have been thinking about how I wish I had an article to read in all the years that I was worried about turning 30 (like I would cross an invisible bridge into some shittier existence I couldn’t turn back from) that would calmly and reasonably say ‘calm the fuck down there’s no reason to freak out.’ And there wasn’t, it turns out. There have been so much goodness and healthiness to this year that my good friend and I keep chalking up to “the magic of 30”. Things are different, but not in a ‘before and after’ kind of way — but in the way that sometimes you look back and realize things have steadily gotten better. I like myself, I feel good about what I can do. People are nicer! I am less interested in bullshit. It’s pretty good.
Here is the article I wish I had, 30 things you can look forward to holding in loving gratitude in your 30’s:
1. You know what you want to do for a career, or at least the direction you want to head in. The future isn’t wide open, and that’s ok. It’s much more fun to be excited about something specific than just the generic “you can do anything.”
2. You don’t have imposter syndrome. You have a decade of being thrown in the deep end and making it out all right under your belt, you now have the confidence that comes with experience. You can take on new challenges with the security of believing in yourself.
3. Money. While you may not be rich you’re in a way better place than you were 10 years ago and while money can’t buy happiness, it does ease a lot of needless anxiety.
4. The confidence not to take someone’s bullshit and excuse yourself from situations that don’t serve you.
5. The knowledge of how to fight right in a relationship: together, towards the collective goal of happiness, not as if one of you wind and the other loses.
6. Good sex. Like, actual good sex not just telling your friends it was good sex because the guy was really hot and you didn’t know any better.
7. The genuine joy you feel watching your friends grow up and be successful. Like a proud parent you get to see what your friends are capable of when they spread their wings, and it feels cool to be part of such a talented crew.
8. Getting to decorate your home the way *you* choose but could never do before because you loved with roommates/couldn’t afford it.
9. Getting to date adult men instead of shitty twenty something men. (This alone is worth turning 30 for.)
10. The ability to see through frauds who parade their perfect lives on Instagram. You’ve seen the inside of enough people’s lives to know that the rule of thumb always applies those who have “it” (money, happiness, success) are never the ones flaunting it.
11. The blessing of being able to have a relationship with your parents, as equals.
12. Being old enough to spend an entire weekend watching Netflix without feeling like you’re missing out, but young enough to totally embrace your party side when the situation calls for it.
13. Knowing all the boring things that make life a lot easier: how to budget, how to pay taxes, when to hire a lawyer, health insurance, 401ks, etc. and when you don’t know, having the presence of mind to ask.
14. The loss of desire to procrastinate. Life is so much better without the drama of always being late!
15. The realization that your mom was right: 8 hours of sleep a night is one of the best things you can do for your health.
16. Going on vacations where you sleep on a plush hotel bed, not a floor because you’re sleeping 6 to a room to save money.
17. Having goals that are both bigger than you ever thought they’d be, but also feel totally within reach.
18. Truly being friends with your siblings, instead of being at each other’s throats. It’s nice to have a confidant to completely gets where you’re coming from.
19. The feeling of satisfaction that was so hard to find in your 20’s because you know who you are and what you want. You know how to make yourself happy and you don’t feel any stress if it differs from how you’re *supposed* to get your happiness.
20. Not waking up with a hangover every day, not relying on adder all to get any work done.
21. Dating is better. In your 20’s people are insecure and the biggest predictor that someone is going to treat you badly is their own insecurity. Confident people are happier and more generous, more forgiving and less judgmental. We all treat each other with respect, even if we’re turning someone down.
22. People are nicer in their 30’s. Your 20’s kind of seem like a fire sale and like there isn’t enough success/happiness/hot guys to go around. But everyone calms down and becomes a better person for it.
23. If you don’t want to know how to use Snapchat, you honestly don’t have to.
24. The knowledge that failure can feel good, too. It means you tried, it shows you the path that won’t work, and probably a few others that actually might. It’s part of living a life that’s bigger than your fears.
25. Not fighting with your friends. You lose a lot of friends in your 20’s, but those that make it to your 30’s are friends for life. You don’t have falling outs the way you used to because you realize life is a lot bigger than petty drama and that everyone in the world has shortcomings — including you. If you want people to be patient with you when you monopolize the conversation, you’re going to have to forgive them for constantly being late.
26. Fashion in your 30’s is a lot more comfortable than fashion in your 20’s which once seemed bleak but is honestly a relief.
27. Knowing how to cook.
28. All the ways it feels like weight is being lifted off of you because you struggled for so long to be the person you have become, and now you just get to be her.
29. The realization that 30 is very, very young. If you want it, you have an entire life ahead of you to do the things you want.
30. That you got to live your wild and crazy 20’s but more importantly — that you will never have to go through that crazy anxious decade again. All the nights you stayed up worrying about things that no longer bother you were the price you paid for what people romanticize as the time in their life when they were the most free. But, truth be told, it was a little bit awful under that shiny veneer and it’s kind of a relief to be on to something new.