30 feels like the last milestone birthday before you’re over the hill. Growing up, milestone birthdays always meant something amazing. They made you want to grow up faster because you had permission to do something you previously weren’t able to. 16 meant freedom. You got to drive and take yourself wherever you wanted (aka wherever your parents said you could go, but the point is you didn’t NEED them to get there). 18 meant going out on your own to college or getting a job, you were “grown.” 21 meant you could drink… the end. 25 you were FINALLY able to rent a car (lame) but you felt seasoned… or went through a quarter life crisis *raises hand.”
30 is… well, 30 is saying bye to your 20’s and feeling like you have to be an actual adult now. Clearly we have all just been faking it. 30 is the new 20 so “they” say, whoever “they” are. 30 is a good time to do some reflecting. As I was sitting down to write this post, I was thinking about all the things that have changed in my 30’s. Like when I used to be able to eat whatever the hell I wanted and not gain weight. Now I have a bite of a cookie and gain a pound. Or when I could drink multiple days in a row and now I have 2-day hangovers and think I got roofied every time.
This led me down a rabbit hole… what is 30?
30 is bottles of wine at home, watching Netflix instead of shots of vodka in a club. It is feeling “old” when you get out of bed and killing yourself in a spin class to keep up with the 20 somethings. 30 is making plans hoping the other person cancels. It is 9 o’clock bed times and automatically waking up before 7 because who needs to sleep in (rolls eyes)?! It is asking for an adult and realizing you are the adult.
But what happens when you’re 30 and you don’t have your shit together? You figure it out! 30 is you stepping into your boss self BUT, there are a few musts to make the absolute most of your 30’s. I know this after tumbling face first through the first couple years of my 30’s. Grab your wine girl!
Let Go of Expectation
The first thing you HAVE to do is let go of the expectations you have for where you thought you would be in your life at 30. Or what you thought you should have or who you thought you would be or what you thought you would be doing.
When I turned 30 I had just graduated with my doctorate and (drumroll please….) was an intern…yup you read that right! A 30-year-old intern with a doctorate. It was like I was living the real-life movie The Internship when Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson were interns at Google except it was way less funny or entertaining. It was actually a little demoralizing. Ok… a lot demoralizing. Here I was thinking, I’m this BFD because I got a doctorate before the age of 30 and all I had to show for it was a mound of student loans and a summer internship that had zero potential of turning into a “real job.” Oh, and did I mention the internship required me to live in a dorm room for three months?
After a couple of weeks of feeling sorry for myself, I realized I was actually in a really awesome situation.
I mean, I didn’t have insurance but intern or not, there was an amazing opportunity right in front of me. I got to spend the summer in Eugene Oregon, one of the jewels of the Pacific Northwest. The organization I was interning with planned and ran the NCAA Track & Field Championships as well as the Olympic Trials. Like, the best runners in the country and in some cases the world competed right before my eyes. I got to work with kids and underserved individuals in the local community. This was a once in a lifetime experience that I almost missed because I was caught up in where I thought I should be, what I thought I should have, who I thought I should be on paper, what it looked like to other people.
Maybe you thought you would be married with kids living in your dream home. Maybe you thought you would be living your best Sex in The City life but are a supermom instead. Or maybe you thought you would be the VP of the company you started in making multiple 6 figures. Maybe you thought having a doctorate would allow your dream job to land in your lap. Regardless of what you thought, you are EXACTLY where you are supposed to be, in this moment of your life, which leads me to my next point.
Embrace the Journey
Too often we rush through the process. We are waiting to be truly happy until we have what we want. Even if we don’t know what the hell that is outside of millions of dollars. We are just ready to be “THERE” wherever “there” is. What we don’t realize is that “there” is not a true destination. When you accomplish one thing you will want something else and that something might not even bring you the joy you think it will.
Right after my internship and a much-needed vacay, I spent a few months looking for this elusive “real job” I was so eager to have. I worked part-time for a nonprofit and spent the other part of my time worrying. “What if I never get a job? How is this possible? How can someone be over educated? I need a job now! Wait… I don’t want that job. I mean I’m not just gonna settle… well maybe I will just apply anyway, beggars can’t be choosers. Never mind… nope I can’t. I’m hungry, I’m always hungry… ugh!”
I was always stressed and just riddled with worry and doubt. Here’s the thing, looking back, had I gotten any of the jobs I applied for, I would have had to move away from my house, relationship, and friends. And let’s be honest, I ended up not even liking the job that I did accept, which was my “dream” job (ok the job that would lead to my dream job).
Every day felt like Ground Hog’s Day.
Show up to work at the same time, sit in the same tiny cube, do the same kind of work, leave at the same time. I was thinking about my life before this job, when I was worrying all day but could workout at 10 in the morning and wear tights all day… or no pants at all. Why was I in such a rush to get to wherever “there” was? I didn’t enjoy those months I had the freedom to do anything. I missed a time in my life when I could simply BE.
It is the journey that offers growth, character building, and lessons that serve us. Being an engaged participant in the journey allows you to have increased joy, build relationships, cherish experiences and have a new appreciation for life. Having goals are crucial to get to where you want to go but you can’t have tunnel vision so bad you forget to live. Sometimes your GPS takes you on the scenic route so instead of worrying about it taking longer, enjoy the damn ride!
Own Your Shit
Have a sip of wine and take a deep breath. It is time to accept that who you are and where you are in life is all your doing… both good and bad. I know that isn’t the most fun to hear but this step is important. It can be so easy to get caught in “victim mode” and think the world is against you and everything is happening to you. That’s the bad news. The good news is you being responsible for where you are right now also means you are responsible for where you go in the future. It is all you. Isn’t that empowering AF? You get to decide.
Understanding and excepting where you are is the only way to figure out where you want to go. I have always been the kind of person that can’t tell you what I want but I can tell you what I don’t want. When you get to your 30’s, it’s time to call the shots. You are the BOSS and you get to decide. Figuring out what you want and taking action is key.
When I was in my “life sucks, everyone hates me, I have no job” phase, I was convinced everyone that wouldn’t hire me was insane. They simply didn’t know what they were missing out on because let’s be honest, I’m pretty amazing. Turns out, I was not in alignment and had no idea what I really wanted. I was coming from a place of desperation. When you know what you want and you feel good about it, you can literally have, be and do anything. Get clear, get aligned, get movin’, and have the grit and resilience to push through until you get to where you want to go! Then, rinse and repeat!
So What is 30?
30 is being the boss at work and in your own life. It is momming the shit out of your kids or watching your friends be amazing mothers. It is finding your independence, coming into your own, trying new things and figuring out what you truly want in your life. 30 is saying “screw it” to popular demand and creating your own path. It is raising your standards, taking action and saying yes to the things that you have always wanted. It is knocking things off your bucket list, loving yourself more than ever and taking chances. 30 is whatever the hell you want it to be!
Cheers to making our 30’s the best decade of our lives!