When I told women I admire that I was turning 30, something sorta weird happened. Each woman friend and mentor of mine responded in the same way: “You’ve arrived.”
Now, you have to believe me here, this wasn’t just one woman who told me this, it was every friend and mentor over 30. You’ve arrived. It happened so much it got creepy. It was as if 30 was some sort of weird fucking cult I’d not applied for, or wanted to join, but been admitted to anyway.
I shook it off as odd. I didn’t feel any different really— yeah hangovers are worse, and traveling is more comfortable, but I didn’t necessarily feel older.
I got a phone call from a friend a few days after my birthday, she was angry on my behalf about what she perceived as a slight against me (as good friends are). She had put my name forward to a leader we both know for a speaking gig, and his response was in the vein of, “Oh, I didn’t know she was at that level.”
It wasn’t the first time this particular brotato had underestimated me, and my friend was indignant on my behalf.
I waited to get angry, and it didn’t come. I wasn’t even a little annoyed.
I figured, this will sink in later.
The anger never came.
I continued to not give a shit through the whole day. I got a lot of work done.
A day before I turned 30 I was at dinner with my husband panicking a little bit— worried I was behind, that 30 had come too quickly. He smirked at me from across the table and said “Walk me through your 20s, every year, what happened?”
I highly recommend this exercise to anyone romanticizing their 20s.
My 20s were wonderful. They were also full of anxiety, pulling all-nighters in grad school, worrying about career decisions, being underpaid, paying rent, paying off student loans, drinking at awful clubs, dating less than ideal men, being cheated on by less than ideal men, being in situations thinking “this doesn’t feel OK” all the time, and not saying anything about it. 20 year old me hadn’t yet built a foundation— so anyone could knock her off her game. She measured her worth on the opinions of people who didn’t care enough about her to matter.
In our society, aging is a sin every woman is destined to commit. We know we’re not supposed to get older, but there we are, aging every day. We joke about it to cover our fear, and sometimes our pain.
There is a reason we’re socialized to fear aging— every year we get older, we step further into our power. Our foundations get stronger, as does our resolve. Our skin thickens, our minds focus, our bonds to each other strengthen. We become unshakeable.
I’m grateful to men who underestimate me. They strengthen my resolve and fuel my fire.
I have arrived.