5 Lessons On Being The Only 30-Something In A Group of 20-Somethings


This summer, it happened. I turned thirty. Admittedly, I’m a late bloomer, and because of acting like I was in my thirties during much of my twenties, I am back in college. My friend group is much younger then me, so I am the first to turn thirty. The oldest. Granted, I’m only a few months into this whole thirties thing, but it’s taught me some lessons.

1. Sometimes it’s okay to have all night ragers.

I work hard. Real hard. I’m raising an awesome kid. I’m a full time student, and the Student Body President of my university, doing a double degree in unrelated fields. I bust my ass so that maybe, just maybe, I can defy the odds and actually get a job that will someday allow me to pay off my education. And sometimes, that sucks.

What my friends in their twenties do when something sucks for one of them is for all of them to convene at that awesome bar in town. You know, the one with the cheap drinks, and outside patio that you can actually smoke on. They go hard, drinking way too much PBR, and chain smoking. When they close the bar down, they find a swimming hole, strip off their clothes, giggling and tripping in the dark, and plunge into the cool water. Sometimes, they make out with an old flame, or a new face. Inevitably, they show up at work the next day where, instead of getting anything done, they text each other about how damn hungover they are, and how they want food from the local greasy spoon.

This summer, I have learned that sometimes the best way to deal with an overwhelmingly awful situation is to follow suit. Go with them. Because in the light of that raging hangover, the one where you dry heave in the shower the next morning, the original suck isn’t quite so bad.

2. Sometimes, you just have to say no to the all-night ragers.

This summer, my best friend, who is twenty-five and has admitted some alcoholic tendencies, has gone through her hardest breakup to date. Both of us are water signs, and love hard, but neither of us has ever been like this.

So, we got drunk. We got drunk, again and again, over and over. Not just me and her, but our entire group of friends.

One night, though, I was done. I couldn’t show up at work, or in class, with another hangover. My girlfriend, the introvert to my extrovert, missed me. I was verging on broke. I had a giant cut on the ball of my foot from stumbling through the woods, drunk, in the dark, to take a dip in the river. I could not get drunk with her again. So, I said no.

I stayed in. I made popcorn and watched too many episodes in a row of Orange Is The New Black. I went to bed at a reasonable time, after I put some hydrogen peroxide and a Band-Aid on my foot.

It was glorious.

3. Confidence is hot, no matter your age.

When I was in my 20’s, I worried constantly about how I looked. I’m fat. And I’m not ashamed of it. At least, not these days. I have amazing tits, and beautiful eyes. I wear dresses that are maybe too short for someone in their thirties, but I don’t care, because I’m not old and boring.

I also get hit on, constantly, by 19 year olds.

My prime demographic is actually 19-year-old frat boys. Being a queer girl, I don’t often return their affections. I don’t know what it is , but those boys love me, even though I am the polar opposite of everything they’ve been told to want.

Actually, I do know what it is. I am confident. I like my body, something that most of my friends in their twenties haven’t figured out how to do yet. I am proud of my brain, and my tits. I’m experienced, both in bed, and in life. I can cook, and know how to do practical things. Of course these boys love that. Who wouldn’t?

4. You won’t be the only responsible one forever.

Like I said, I’m the oldest. I have a kid. I budget. I plan meals. I do my laundry instead of buying new underwear when I run out. Actually, I now do my laundry before I run out of clean underwear. I have a specific savings account for rent – and one for tattoos. I’m generally fairly responsible, but it took me a long time to get here. Ask my mother. She now is elated when I post on Facebook that I did some menial chore.

It’s fascinating to watch my closest friends figure out how to adult for themselves. Some of them are going back to college, for things they love and are passionate about, instead of slinging drinks, and working crap jobs, just because it pays for booze, piercings, and road trips. I got to give one of them advice about CDs and savings accounts.

Hell, one of them will follow me into their thirties in just 9 months.

5. But don’t be too responsible.

I don’t remember who wrote it or where I say it, but there was an article that came out right around my birthday about what your Facebook feed looks like in your thirties. The article said it was all ‘Babies!’ and ‘5Ks!’. It was true.

Honestly, that bores me to tears. I had my kid young, not necessarily on purpose, and I don’t want any more. I’m very happy that you love your baby, but I don’t really care. Just like I don’t care that you signed up for the Cupcake Zombie War Paint Run, Facebook friends in your thirties.

I want to keep caring about things I enjoyed in my twenties. I can be responsible and still want to wear the highest heels possible. I don’t want my dreams of fighting the patriarchy to die, just because I’m going to graduate soon, and I got older and more complacent.

Don’t let the stability of your thirties shadow the badass dreams of your twenties.

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