I vividly remember turning 21. I threw myself a big party at a very trendy place in NYC. I was so proud of not having to use a fake ID to get in. It was July, so I had an amazing tan. I bought the perfect dress and had perfect hair and makeup to go along with it. Everything seemed, well, pretty perfect. But on the inside I felt insecure, self-conscious, always worrying about what everyone else is thinking of me. These are just some of the things that I don’t miss about being in my twenties.
On my thirtieth birthday, I asked my husband to take me to Canada for the weekend (where I don’t get cell service) because I didn’t want to receive a million “Happy birthday!!!!” calls from every aunt, cousin and friend just because I turned 30. The big 3-0 is a scary age to turn for most women. By 30, the world expects you to have achieved a lot. At the very least, you should be married, have a few children and a career that’s taking you places, right? Not having all of that can make the ticking clock in your head get louder and louder with each tick.
Like everyone else, I had to face turning 30 head on. It took a little time, but all of as sudden I realized how great being in my thirties is. Here’s why:
- I am so much happier.
- I spend 50% less time staring at myself in the mirror.
- I only care about what people think of me 30% of the time.
- I am so much closer to being in touch with the real me than I ever was before.
I am happier because I am able to appreciate the good in people around me. I am less judgemental of friends and family, and I am able to just let things go when I have to. My twenties were filled with erratic emotions, reactive actions and holding on to grudges. I assume it has to do with our hormone development or maybe just maturity, but I am so glad that I don’t feel bound to that behavior anymore.
When I was in college, it used to take me an hour to get ready in the morning. I used to spend the better part of that hour in front of a mirror. I had a mirror in my purse to check myself while en route. I had a mirror attached to my computer because, of course, every eyelash had to be perfect at all times. It makes me cringe to think about how much of that decade was wasted staring into a mirror.
While in my twenties, a big part of my decision making process was governed by what others thought. Everything from my outfit to what I did on the weekend, the people I did it with and pretty much everything in between. Why did I care so much? Probably because, like most people in their twenties, I was still discovering who I was and was afraid of not being “cool” or that I had a made an “uncool” decision.
Today, being in my thirties for a couple years now, I find myself so much more in touch with the real me than I ever imagined I would be. Even though I may not have accomplished everything a 30 year old is expected to, getting to know myself (who I really am) and making decisions from that inner place is, in my opinion, quite the accomplishment (pat on the back). Ultimately, that is why I am much happier. As a thirty-something, I am less vain. I am more confident. I care less what other people think. I care more about what I think.
And thinking ahead, maybe 40 isn’t as scary as it sounds!