Photo: Lena C. Emery

There’s oodles of great writing on the interwebs about turning 30.  Lots of it is true and also humbling. Most of it is humorous.  But the bottom line is, people are thinking it’s a big deal – which it is – but it’s not a bad thing.  Sometimes we all need a confidence boost/reality check to reflect on what you’ve done and realize that this might just be your best decade yet.  I’ve noticed real, tangible changes to myself – some good, some bad.  With three decades of wisdom under my belt, I don’t care if I am well-equipped or not to draft some advice. Here it is.

There’s a lot I don’t know
Everyday I learn something new but, the bottom line is, there is a lot of stuff to learn.  Trying to think cleverly isn’t always the answer.  In work meetings, where I’m worried that I need to speak up or else people won’t feel I’m contributing, I can’t miss the fact that by simply listening I’m picking up what I need.

There’s a lot I know that I can start taking credit for
You are under-qualified for a lot, but also overqualified for lots, too. This means updating your CV to reflect that change.  You don’t really need your high school job on there anymore.  Nor do you need basic skills listed beneath a role.  Talk about accomplishments, because you got ’em.

Be good to yourself – specifically your lower back when you’re scrubbing the tub
Minor pains have been creeping up on me in places that used to (and 95% still do) function well. But, the idea that I can bend over for 10 consecutive minutes while trying to eliminate stubborn shower scum from the far reaches of my bathtub is becoming one of wishful thinking.  I was cleaning my bathroom yesterday and my lower back seized. My posture shot upwards.  I felt uncomfortable standing still.  I had to take a break.  I couldn’t fathom not getting the job done, the comet still foaming on the porcelain, the mirror still spackled like a windshield during a tooth-brushing storm.  It subsided, but it will be back and I’ll be ready.

Don’t see this as the decline before the end
I’m reading Gone Girl.  In it, the wife, who is nearly 40, is talking about still being ‘pretty for her age’.  The dreaded 40s are looming before her and she’s thinking she’s past her prime.  So, when is ‘Prime’?  If ‘prime’ is just before ‘past-the-prime’ then we oughta think that the 30s are bitter-sweet, right?  No. One doesn’t go from amazing to awful in a few years.  Enjoy the transition and do it gracefully.  Thinking that 36 is the end of beauty is a bad way to tackle this decade.

Then there are the obligatories like get sleep, exercise, eat well, save money, don’t give up everything for a man… blah blah. One thing I do want to reiterate is that now is not too late to do something you really want to do.  When I was 25 I backpacked in Australia and felt more senior than my other travel companions.  That made me depressed, feeling like my window of opportunity was narrowing faster than I could escape from it.  Not true.  Go backpacking, start your novel, take that night course on home design.  Don’t say you can’t.  

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