“I never thought that in my 30s I would have to worry about being popular,” my girlfriend, Kristin, confessed to me as we drank coffee on a park bench. Her honesty caught me off guard and I patiently waited for her to explain further as we watched her small children clumsily climb ladders and chase friends, totally naïve of any social pressures to be cool.
“I mean, high school was bad enough. Didn’t I escape the social hierarchy of popularity when I graduated? I can’t believe I’m uncool again in this group of moms. Seriously, I’m the nerd all over again.”
I was stunned. My friend was a talented game designer with a master’s degree and adorable family, yet she promptly fell right back into her same old role of “the nerd” amongst her new group of “friends.”
“I try to talk to them, you know? But, I can just tell they’re not interested in what I have to say. Probably because I tend to sway conversations towards electronics. I really need to start reading some pop news or something.”
Kristin took a sip of coffee and anxiously glanced over at the group of moms crowded around a picnic table, laughing in their spandex pants and Ugg boots. I could tell that Kristin was lost deep in thought as she then fixated on the group of moms that she desperately wanted to be a part of. Her vacant stare suggested that all of her insecurities and self-doubt from high school were bubbling back to the surface.
And that was fucking ridiculous.
She is an adventurous, successful woman who is smart as hell. Not only is she successful in her career, but she traveled to numerous countries chasing her bird watching hobby- and that is fucking interesting. And if it wasn’t to this group of Stepford moms, who cares? She is doing what she wants to do. She is happy. And she is enjoying life.
So, why should she waste her time on people who don’t appreciate who she is?
Or be jealous of people that she clearly isn’t?
The moms with perfectly curled hair (seriously, I swear they just stepped off of a Disney Channel set) weren’t better than Kristin and I.
And they weren’t worse.
They were just different.
Embracing your brand of different is the beauty of turning 30. You finally have the confidence to shed your insecurities and grow into your own skin. It’s a time to understand yourself, accept your strengths and weaknesses, and stop giving a fuck about the little things.
1. You don’t give a fuck about the “Like” button.
Social Media is a popularity contest on crack. Caring about how many people like your post, photo, status, comment, etc. becomes an addiction. The irony is that the people who are competing for attention are all equally insecure and simply looking for their next fix.
You are smart enough to know that handing out “likes” on every post you see (even the ones you don’t agree with) is like being a 10 year-old handing out Pixy Stix to make friends. You post what you want, when you want- because your social media is an extension of you, and you don’t give a damn who “likes” it.
2. You know thy self.
“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” –Albert Einstein
You know what drives you, what your strengths are, and what you’re just no damn good at- because you took the time for deep introspection to understand yourself. And it wasn’t easy. Instead of wallowing in self-pity every time the world crashed down on you, you learned something from it. When someone gave you a compliment or made you cry, you took a mental inventory of how you appear through others eyes. Armed with this knowledge, you decided what you like about yourself and what matters to you.
Now you’re happily trotting along on your unique path of happiness, building on what you’re good at and doing what makes you happy- and you won’t apologize for it.
3. You don’t expend energy on those who “don’t get you”.
You give others around you a chance to get to know you while you get to know them. But, when someone can only focus on your negatives, because they either don’t understand you or don’t appreciate your strengths, then you drop them like a bad habit.
4. You love deeply.
The people who matter in your life are the people who support you and push you to grow to your full potential, despite your crazy ideas or your quirks or your insane cheese fetish. They stick around when your mascara is running down your face and you’re elbow deep in a tub of ice cream, and when you’re flying high as an eagle, they don’t get jealous, but cheer you on. And in a heartbeat you would do the same for them- because that’s love.
5. You are a master of your craft.
Not only are you forging your own path, but you’re improving yourself every step of the way. Whether it’s diving deep into additional training to become the subject-matter expert at your job or if it’s to simply educating yourself through reading or if it’s improving a skill, like learning new recipes to feed your family- you’re never done learning.
6. You don’t share your whole life on social media.
You don’t need to prove a damn thing to anyone- especially your “Facebook” friends. So, you finally stopped taking 50 photos of yourself to get just the right one. You started actually enjoying your vacations instead of posting a 1,000 pictures to show “friends” how much you enjoyed the vacation. Best of all, you live in the moment, not through your social media page.
7. You accept others for their brand of happiness.
Everyone has endured the popularity contest of high school and gone through their own grueling self-exploration process- so why hate other people for choosing their own unique brand of happiness? Or be jealous of their brand? Or compare yourself to their brand? Some people want to reach for the stars, some people are just fine with the daily grind, some people are social recluses and some are social butterflies- and as long as you’re not hurting anyone- it’s really, truly all okay.