thirtysmth

Author’s note: So, this is now the treble post in what I like to call “Juliet’s Tips for Crushing It and Being Awesome Always.” Since its becoming apparent that a lot of things keep happening in threes these days, I promise that after this post, I’ll take a break from offering life lessons in the form of five seminal points. Until then…

Ahh, 30! It can be a year (or a decade) of wonder, realization, and contentment. Or it can be a crazy rollercoaster ride of emotions and questions about the meaning of life. I think that for most of us, our experience falls more into the latter category and we use this year to benchmark our success: we’ve been on this earth for three decades now. What do we have to show for it?

Though it’s been said a thousand times before, when we look at those benchmarks, it’s common to bemoan our third decade problems. Maybe you’re single, jobless, debt-ridden or childless.  Maybe you’re a combination of all those things. Maybe you’re only now waking up to the reality that no, you can’t grow up to be a firetruck, even if you attend all the right schools.  Yes, it can be tempting to look back at your life-spreadsheet and weep at your lost youth and bad decisions, or rail against the life that has passed you by. We’ve all heard about redefining happiness and success, blah blah blah. But that’s not what this post is going to be about (that’s what this post was about).

Despite my third-decade crisis, I’ve found that being 30 (or in your 30’s) is actually better than being in your 20’s. You look a lot like you did in your 20’s (sometimes hotter!), only now you’re smarter and wiser and probably more confident. I’ve enjoyed this  past year and am looking forward to crushing it for the next nine.

So as someone who is about to cross the threshold from being 30 to being officially  “in her 30’s” here are some friendly (and unisex) tips to making this decade your best one yet.

1) One word: Moisturizer!
I was blessed to have a mother who knows her skincare. She made me start moisturizing at 11, dotting eye cream around my eyes with my ring finger at 16, and blending face cream into my neck in upward motions at 25. So I often get mistaken for being in my 20’s (that and the fact that I have a whimsical sense of humor and use terms such as “like” and “you know?”). Also, to all my fellow single, childless ladies (and gentlemen), you do realize that the pluses of not having children is having the time, eight-hours of sleep and disposable income to look amazing all the time right? Always look on the bright side (of your skin). If you haven’t started taking care of your skin, then stop reading this post IMMEDIATELY and go get some moisturizer and put it on (but sparingly. You can’t make up for lost time in a day). Geez. This doesn’t just apply to women. Yeah, you might think its a “chick thing”, but here’s Robert Redford when he was younger:

Robert Redford, in his youth (Photo Credit: www.starfetch.com)

And here he is now:

Robert Redford…now (Photo Credit: paxarcana.files.wordpress.com)

So this is why it’s important to…

2) Get in shape!
Did you spend your 20’s day drinking? Night drinking? Twilight drinking? Working crazy hours? Did you always plan to have some kind of workout regime, but just never got around to it? Then stop reading this post IMMEDIATELY and go for a run. Get off your butt: no ifs, ands, or..buts! Well, unless you’re reading this at work. If so, now is as good a time as any to do some dead lifts with the water cooler!

In all seriousness, you’re going to feel a lot better about yourself if you don’t just accept that “you’re old” (you’re really not) or that it’s too late (did you just die? If so, I’m sorry. You probably have your own set of third circle problems. If you didn’t, then quit your bitching, it’s never too late). Start working out. Better yet, find other friends who are in their 30’s and want to keep it tight (first definition, thank you!) and work out together. Just stop making excuses.That’s what kids in their 20’s do. Like “I can’t go to the gym, I need to find out if Bella chooses Jacob or Edward!” or “I already got such a workout from playing beer pong at 3am.”

And while you’re at it…

3) Quit whining!
Remember when I told you to quit your bitching about how it’s too late? That life has passed you by? Sorry to interrupt your “Sally Albright weeping to Harry Burns that you’re going to be 40 in eight years” moment.

Did you have a good cry? (Did you also sleep with your best guy friend? Wait–don’t tell me, I don’t want to know.) Honestly though, quit it! It’s really unattractive and a sad and pathetic 30-something stereotype (especially for women, but on guys I can only imagine that it’s emasculating for you too). Ok, so you didn’t get married by the time you were 30. You don’t have children. Or you don’t have the career you always imagined. Dealing with disappointment isn’t easy and while I don’t want to minimize your pain, I know that wallowing in it won’t bring any of those things into your life. Probably the opposite. Quit your whining (IMMEDIATELY) because your life only needs to be as bad as you let it be. Suckiness, like looking good, is a state of mind.

On that note…

4) Surround yourself with positive people!
Once you quit your bitching, you’re going to want to make sure you don’t relapse (a condition not yet in the DSM, but the Association of Former Whiners is campaigning hard). That means finding friends who can remind you about how wonderful you are. Yeah, you can still hang out with the bitter folk who whine about their lives. Just make sure you bathe in some positivity and inject a dose of reality into your veins afterward (reality being: it’s never too late. Unless you’re dead and while I’m so sorry about that, how in the hell are you reading this?)

Speaking of finality…

5) Think about your eulogy!
Recently, my grandmother turned 94. That’s right, having once been 30, she’s lived over three times that age and has led a full and beautiful life. So, remember when I said it’s never too late? It’s really not. You hopefully have a whole long life in front of you, filled with many fun and interesting twists and turns. Ok, you didn’t get to have all your ducks in a row by 30. Who cares? You still have probably another 60 years to do that. And while we’re on the subject, if you’ve spent three decades carefully herding birds into size order, maybe that’s why you’re single, childless and potentially jobless?

At any rate, what’s the fun of life, if you’ve already met your benchmarks? You’d still have to come up with a whole new set of them, only with more constraints (like maybe now you can only line up mammals, instead of birds). Think about what you want your grandson or granddaughter to say about you one day. Do you want to be remembered as a positive person, who lived your life well, who ran the course set out for you and crushed it (even when it felt like life was crushing you)? Do you want to be remembered for taking risks and trying new things, instead of living your life according to a rigid “to-do list”? Or do you want to be that friendless, bitter old man or woman, with craggy skin, poor health and whose grandchildren who won’t even write about them in blog posts? It’s your call. Because, friends, you’re in your 30’s now. Leave the angst (immediately!) for Bella Swan and her vampire husband (talk about shiny skin!).

Written by Juliet Vedral

Juliet is The Wheelhouse Review’s Founder and Executive Editor. She is also the founder and editor of Perissos, a devotional blog. Juliet is also a regular contributor to Sojourners and The Body Politic. But if you don’t have a long attention span, just follow her on Twitter.