I wanted to write about sunshine and daisies this week. I really did! But this week, to be honest, I find myself unraveling; facing the truth and contemplating what it means to be in my 30s.
I wanted to write about how traveling for the last three months has changed my mentality… don’t get me wrong, it has! Still… I’m in my 30s, and moving around from hostel to hostel only to find 20-something bestie’s who can sleep through anything (when all my would-be travel companions are employed, married or both) makes me feel freaking old. And let’s not forget, reading that there’s actually an age limit for certain tour groups- and I am too old- has got me feeling like I need to write something… more… honest.
Allora (I’m in Italy), all I can really manage this week is part-rant-part-possible-silver-lining to the woes of entering and moving through your 30s… You know, the first phase of your life where you realize you are actually mortal, after all.
Here’s the shi*t nobody tells you about your 3os
#1 If you have a timeline, it doesn’t work out. (Or, if your timeline did work out, it isn’t what you thought it would be.)
“I’ll give myself ten years to…” I said to myself, as I graduated from a theater university in NYC, “…be making a living off of acting, and then I’ll re-evaluate.”
It hadn’t even crossed my mind that by the time I was 30, which seemed so far away, I wouldn’t even be close to affording rent (in a major metropolitan city) just from my “acting” income.
Needless to say, I had followed all the rules, I did all the things, and yet, I have not received my Oscar. Weird.
When you’re young, it’s quite typical to look at your future-self and imagine where you want to be. It’s a lot rarer to actually achieve that vision. You might have expected to get married… but divorced? You might have expected to be an artist… but working three day jobs?
Even people who are fortunate enough to succeed in their projected field still might not feel the sort of satisfaction they expected.
Silver lining: When you enter the phase in your life where you realize things don’t usually go according to plan you become less dependent on your imagination and find more joy in the present moment. You have more flexibility and aren’t let down by expectations so easily.
Not to mention, when what you planned doesn’t work out, it means you have a blank slate. Essentially you can start anew, taking every little piece of what you’ve learned about your likes and dislikes and making the changes that you need to feel fulfilled on a day-to-day basis.
Related Content: 4 Life Lessons to Be Happy in Your 30s
#2 The economy sucks and you aren’t rich.
This is a hard one to face, especially because even those who grew up living a certain lifestyle (even if it was a modest life style) still find themselves living under the poverty line.
It might feel like we, as individuals, are failures because buying a house seems like a distant dream, let alone affording luxuries like shopping or travel.
Silver lining: It’s not your fault that generations before have messed up, leading to economical crisis! It’s easy to get swept up in what you’ve done wrong, but the reality is that more people than you would think are experiencing these frustrations. Safety-in-numbers.
As difficult as it is, I can vouch that not having a substantial amount of dough causes you to become more resilient and creative.
For instance, that moment when I realized that traveling on an (extremely) tight budget meant I couldn’t stay at desired accommodations, or book the tours I thought I wanted, or eat at the Michelin rated restaurants I craved; instead, I found myself in positions I never thought I would be in, volunteering at hostels, staying on stranger’s couches… and I got to explore new cities from a local’s perspective, make friends with people I never would have met otherwise… ride a Vespa through Florence, eat homemade pasta, and ultimately, better my understanding of new culture.
#3 Your body thinks you’re having a baby, even if you don’t.
“Hey! What’s up?! I’m your new body, complete with jiggles and wrinkles and stretch marks and flabs that you never asked for!”
When I turned 30, almost to the day, my body changed. It didn’t ask me, it just happened. My face changed. Everything changed. It’s as if my body conspired against me, determining that I should get pregnant and making all necessary adjustments to be able to do so (whether I wanted it or not.)
What’s that? You actually HAD a baby?! To you, I bow my head in defeat because I have only heard tale of the changes that birthing a child brings to your (not 20-year-old anymore) body.
I’m going to be very frank here. For the most part, women want to be and feel desired. Not just loved… but desired.
From everything that we see in television, film, magazines, music videos, Instagram, Facebook, dating apps, WHAT-THE_F*CK EVER, we see these tight skinned, minuscule waistlines of girls (not women) who look barely legal, and how are we supposed to imagine that we have a standing change in keeping our significant other’s (or potential someone’s) attention?!?!?!?
The reality is that we are mortal. We age, and suddenly we get less free drinks… less attention at the checkout line… those stares that you thought you didn’t want… suddenly, you want them.
Silver lining. Wear whatever the f*ck you want. Say and do whatever you want. Sure, you’re in a place where you’re competing with the elasticity of 20-year-old’s skin, but you’re no longer reeling people in solely from your physical appearance, meaning attraction is more substantial.
You’re still in that phase where you can buy a pair of knee-high boots and stockings and BAM, you’re a head turner.
You’ve basically achieved the most desired of statuses: those who love you do so because they love YOU. All of you. Not just your body (but also your body) but your mind, spirit, strength, intelligence, etc. etc. etc. Everything you have learned to be.
You are power. Sexy power.
#4 It’s a lot harder to whip yourself into shape.
Way back when (okay, two years ago) I used to be able to not work out for, like, six months, then, when the mood struck, jump right back into that yoga class, or boxing class, or head to the gym like no time had passed at all.
Today, when I go any amount of time slacking on my work out, the feat of getting back into it can seem substantial.
I can no longer touch my toes. I can no longer whip around those 5lb weights. My body, basically, cannot hang. (Sometimes literally.)
Silver lining: You still have time to develop better habits!!! Honestly, it might not be easy, but you’ve still got it. When you get older, it takes nothing more than a little bit of patience to get back into the good habits you might have established in your youth. Sure, this time around it might be a few months before you’re back into the swing of things, but it’s a goal worth being patient for to feel like you’re your best self.
#5 The age of swiping = competing with 20 year olds.
Who knew that in this day and age, we would be competing with possibility itself. Whether or not your single, the fact is that there’s endless possibilities, only a swipe away, and ladies as a bisexual I can tell you, there are scantily clad women who have mastered the manipulation of technology to make themselves look like slutty goddesses who are waiting to eat you, just around the corner.
If you’re single, how can you compete?!?!? If you’re in a relationship… (same question.)
Temptation used to be kept at bay because people had to be, you know, in real life. Now, your competition is a theoretical idea of smooth-skinned (face-tuned) women.
Silver lining: These women are nothing more than fantasies. In person, they can never live up to the contouring and editing. Besides, as you face a mid-life crisis, you know that youth is fleeting. These women will be no better off by the time they approach their 30s as we are.
The difference is, we are lucky enough to have lived in an age where personality and soul are weighed greatly. We do not measure our substance solely on “likes.”
It can be incredibly challenging to feel like you, or someone you love, or someone you WANT to love, could ever be satisfied when only a swipe away is some fantastical siren… something seemingly better… but you don’t hit the jackpot with an idea. You hit the jackpot when your soul connects with another.
Ladies, in the end, you do what you have to do to thrive and survive. Buy some sexy lingerie, meditate, work out, dump the motherf*cker who doesn’t worship you, work hard to get that promotion, delete your social media.
And as often as you can, remember all of the reasons why you love yourself, because those reasons will transcend any age, because your soul transcends any age.