Last week, I turned thirty four. T H I R T Y F O U R.
When I was a kid I dreaded turning thirty. I saw thirty as being SOOOOO OLD. Like, the end of the line kind of old. I have vivid memories of my mom’s thirtieth birthday. Being a naive five year old I was so excited to have a big birthday party with cake and presents for her, but she failed to share in my excitement. When I asked her why she wasn’t super excited for her birthday she jokingly remarked how once you’re past twenty nine you don’t want to get any older, so turning thirty wasn’t something to be excited about. I heard similar sentiments from other family members over the next few years as well.
For some reason, this stuck with me.
I spent most of my youth dreading my thirties. I spent my teens and early twenties trying to have as much fun as possible and embrace all of the benefits that come along with being young (as best as I could being super neurotic and overly mature and responsible for my age), while each year cringing as I got closer and closer to thirty. I obsessed over every new wrinkle or grey hair, as if I would morph into some sort of elderly troll at the strike of midnight on my thirtieth birthday.
Now that I’m a few years in, I’ve realized that my thirties are actually not so bad. In fact, I’m kinda loving them. Here are some of the reasons i’m embracing being thirty something:
I’M MORE COMFORTABLE WITH MYSELF
When you’re in your teens and early twenties, it’s all about fitting in and trying to find your place in life. Experimentation is the name of the game. You float around to different groups of friends, interests, hobbies, college majors, sex, drugs, everything and anything. While some of those years were fun and amazing, and completely necessary in helping me grow and become who I am today, they were also emotionally exhausting. There’s so much insecurity that comes along with being young. I spent so many years being paralyzingly shy and self conscious. I struggled with low self esteem my entire life. Like most young adults, I definitely struggled with “finding myself”, often trying to mold myself to what I thought I should be or what the people around me were doing.
Now that I’m in my thirties, I’m so over that shit. I know myself, and I’m comfortable with myself. I’m even learning to actually love myself for who i am and not who I aspire to be.I know what I want out of my life and how to weed out the bullshit. I know that there are way more important things in life to worry about other than what I look like or how many friends I have. And that’s a really great feeling. Which brings me to my next point:
I GIVE ZERO FUCKS
I’m not sure if it’s six years of sleep deprivation, life experience, an increase in confidence, a general increase in bitchiness, whatever it is…I just have zero fucks left to give for petty bullshit. You don’t like me? I don’t give a fuck. You don’t like how I’m raising my kids? I don’t give a fuck. You don’t like how I’m dressed? I don’t give a fuck. Etc, etc. Pretty much anything non important..I just don’t give a fuck. I’ve been through enough at this age to not care about the little things anymore. I don’t thrive on the drama and the gossip, I want no part of it.
I KNOW WHO MY TRUE FRIENDS ARE
Relationships come and go throughout life. Some long, some short, some unmemorable, and some completely life changing. I’ve had some great friends that only stayed in my life for a short time, and toxic friends that I clung to for way too long. At this stage of life, I’ve learned how to cut the shit. I no longer have the time or energy to foster relationships with people that aren’t good for me. I have my casual friends that I’m able to have fun with without trying to develop a deeper friendship or expect more from them than I should, or obsess over whether or not they really like me, blah, blah, blah. The biggest thing I’ve embraced in my thirties is appreciating quality over quantity. I know who my true friends are and that’s super comforting. I have a handful of people who I know would drop everything and run to my side if I ever called them for help. The kind of friends I can invite over without cleaning my house, brushing my hair, or even getting dressed and they wouldn’t even notice. I have old friends I can go months or even years without talking to or visiting with and when we do finally get together it’s like we never skipped a day. These are the people who matter. I don’t need to be invited to endless social events or have 500 Facebook friends to feel like people like me or that I’m worthy of friendship. I’m so appreciative of the real friends in my life. Just thinking about my twenty something party days exhausts me. I’m way happier chatting at the park during playdates or texting from my bathtub with a glass of wine at 8:30pm and going to sleep by 10. Netflix and (literally) chill, YES PLEASE! This is my social life now and I’m totally good with it.
WOMEN REACH THEIR SEXUAL PEAK IN THEIR THIRTIES
BEING A “REAL ADULT”
People take you much more seriously in your thirties than in your twenties. We bought our first house when we were 26 and our second house right after my husband turned thirty, and there was a very big difference in the level of respect we received from realtors and lenders. When I was 27 we started trying for our first baby. I knew I had fertility issues before we began trying, and when discussing options with my (then) OB, she actually told me that there was no way my husband and I could possibly afford to have a baby at 27. That we would both need to get second jobs to pay for the fertility treatments and to raise a baby. That I should wait a few more years. Needless to say, I never saw her again after that day. But those weren’t the only moments of age discrimination I encountered in my twenties.
Besides the increased respect that being in your thirties brings, I actually enjoy the increased responsibility as well. I like the security that comes along with my husband having a steady job, with a 401K and retirement plans. I like having a home that is ours. I’d prefer to go to a fancy restaurant and sip an expensive bottle of wine than go to dollar wing night with $5 pitchers of miller lite. I like that my kids give me a good excuse to stay home and go to sleep by 10 on Friday nights, because that’s what I’d want to be doing even if I didn’t have them! I like being a “boring old person”.
AN ALL AROUND GREATER APPRECIATION FOR LIFE
If you haven’t experienced a great loss by the time you’re in your thirties, you are extremely fortunate. At this point in life, I’ve definitely dealt with loss, and watched helplessly as most of my friends and family have as well. I’ve lost dear relatives and friends. I’ve learned of old friends from high school or college my own age or younger who have battled severe illnesses or passed away. I’ve known women who have miscarried, and lost children. I’ve seen friends of mine get divorced. I’ve been through a lot of painful shit, and watched others go through shit. It definitely puts life into perspective. When you’re young you have that feeling of immortality. You don’t always take very good care of yourself. Life seems to stretch out so far ahead of you, the future is an abstract concept. You’re more careless and less appreciative. You feel like you have the time to sit back and wait for life to happen instead of actively making things happen.
By your thirties, you realize that life is short. I’m so much more appreciative of all of the blessings I’ve received in my life. I try to embrace and live life to the fullest. I also try to take much better care of myself and focus more on my health, both physical and mental. I’m trying to live life in the now, and not keep waiting until my kids are older or I’ve saved more money or we find our dream house, etc, etc. I’m also more responsible now which actually allows me the freedom to accomplish a great balance of living for the now while preparing for the future at the same time. That’s definitely something I wasn’t able to do in my twenties!
I BELIEVE THIS MAY ACTUALLY BE THE BEST TIME OF MY LIFE
My mom always says that the best part of her life was when her kids were all little. I hear this from a lot of people whose children are now grown. The whole “appreciate every minute because it goes by too fast” schpiel. For me, that time is now. I had my first son when I was 28, so I’ve spent (and will be spending) the entirety of my thirties raising tiny humans. My youngest will be six and heading off to kindergarten when I turn forty (ouch!). I’ll admit, right now a lot of the days seem long, hard, and exhausting. But they are also filled with the most intense kind of love a human being is capable of feeling. The love a mother has for her children just can’t be described. I got to bring three beautiful little souls into this world and get to spend each day watching them grow, learn, and becoming the people they are meant to be. There’s something just magical in that. As hard as it is raising little kids, I just can’t imagine anything else I will ever do in my life will be any more important than what I am doing right now. I imagine that on my death bed one day, when I look back on my life, I won’t remember the exhaustion, the temper tantrums, or the events I missed out on because I couldn’t get a sitter. I doubt I’ll be thinking about the college parties or kid free vacations either. I’ll remember the first smiles, the sounds of their giggles, first steps, first days of school, the delicious smell of their little newborn heads *sigh*. The way they feel curled up in my lap playing with my hair and telling me they love me in their tiny little voices. These are the most perfect moments in life, the things that make life worth living and give it meaning.
And it’s happening right now.
So bring on the next six years. I’m here to embrace them and live them the best I can.
But forty, you evil bitch, you can just stay far far away from me…