Leaving your twenties behind isn’t about turning into a yuppie or about adopting arbitrary dating rules –- it’s about knowing and being comfortable with who you are. Which is so much better than a new couch.
Stop Telling Me How I'm Supposed To Be In My Thirties
Being in your thirties is, without a doubt, one million times better than being in your twenties. Being in your twenties is almost the worst thing to be. Not only have you forgotten how to have fun without booze, but you no longer have the comfy cushion of parental financial support, you have to cook for yourself (and by "cook" I mean heat up a can of ravioli), and your teenage metabolism is gone forever. (Miss you, Two Cheeseburger Meal).
Burdened with the task of both survival and trying to figure out what you want to do with your life, all while drunk on vodka and Gatorade, is mostly terrible and fruitless.
During my early twenties, I was angry, confused, and broke. I had no direction or focus and the only way I could figure to feel good about myself was via male attention which, as we all know (or will learn someday), is fleeting. I had no idea who I was and therefore couldn’t be expected to like myself very much. You couldn't pay me to do my twenties over again.
Being in your thirties, in comparison, is amazing. You no longer give any shits about fitting in to a "peer group" and the thought of caring what others in their twenties might think about you is laughable. Sex is literally one hundred times better. You are likely more confident, know yourself better (and are comfortable with that self), and you've learned that roommates are an unnecessary evil.
I am now responsible enough to have a dog and I don’t get regular noise complaints from my neighbours/landlord. I like spending time alone, I know exactly what I want to do with my life, and have learned that I love cooking. Sometimes I listen to the young folks talking and it sounds like they’re desperately trying to crawl out of their own skin.
“JUST RELAX. YOU’RE FINE,” I want to yell at them. Watching someone trying to invent and project a personality into a crowded bar is so painful.
This isn't to say there aren't many, many awesome, interesting people out there in their twenties -- there are. Several of whom I am either very good friends with or am sleeping with. It's just to say that there is nothing about that time I miss. Your twenties are a steep learning curve full of jagged rocks, pointy sticks and sidewalk barf; the only good thing about them being that you can get away with not washing off your makeup before bed. (I didn't own makeup remover until, like, two years ago. It is now a staple. Enjoy the freedom of wearing the same eyeliner two days in a row -- it won't last.)
So those lists of all the ways in which your life is better in your thirties are not unwarranted, but some of the things included on said lists make me screamy.
Here are some of the ways they get it wrong:
1) There is no 30-something trust fund.
Reaching your thirties does not mean you suddenly have a ton of disposable income. Many of us continue to struggle, not only throughout our thirties, but through our entire lives, to make ends meet. It only exacerbates feelings of inadequacy when having tons of money and expensive furniture is positioned as "normal" in your thirties. Having chosen the lucrative path of “freelance writer,” I don’t expect to have much financial security anytime soon. Also, I believe you’ve all met the economy?
2) No, we aren't all the boss now (but we do all love Springsteen).
Just because one has escaped 20-something status doesn't mean one has power in the workplace. Being 30 does not necessarily mean you are the boss instead of the assistant. Lots of people spend their lives working their asses off for shitty bosses and continue to be treated with little to no respect. Ever heard of the "pink ghetto?" Women spend their lives stuck in it. Not just during their twenties. They count, too.
3) Turning 30 does not magically make you love kids.
Turning thirty does not infect you with baby disease. Most of the women I know who have or love or want kids now also loved and wanted kids during their twenties. I am equally as disinterested in the baby-humans now as I was 10 years ago. Stop forcing some non-existent mothering instinct onto me because of my old-ass ovaries. Thanks.
4) Turning 30 doesn’t make you a rules girl.
Thirty year olds still have sex on the first or second or third date, yes they do. Is there something wrong with that? The only difference between the sex I have on the first or second or third date (HA! As if I've ever waited till the third date) now is that I don't give a shit if the dude thinks I'm "easy" or not. Because the men I date now aren't judgmental, sexist, douchebags/frat boys. No one cares when you sleep with who on what date. Not my friends, not the people I date. What a waste of brain space.
5) I’m pretty sure we don’t become more rigid about gender roles as we age.
So let me get this straight. Turning 30 means reverting back to the 1950s and we now expect men to pay for dates? Don't get me wrong, I think it's perfectly nice and polite for men to pay sometimes if they are so inclined. But generally, these days, I date Communism-style; meaning that whoever has money pays. Otherwise we both chip in. I had waaaaay more silly, princessy expectations as a 20-something around men showing me they loved me via material things and by splurging on fancy dinners and drinks. When the man pays all the time it sets up a weird power-dynamic that I am much less stoked on now than I was when I was younger.
6) Making out in public is fun for everyone (except the people who aren’t making out).
This list thinks that because I'm in my thirties I'm supposed to be over PDAs?! Hell no. Making out in public is the most fun part about falling in love. There's only so many months you have in a relationship where you can't keep your hands off each other and yeah, it's totally gross for everyone else around you, but WHATEVER. If being a grown-up means my boyfriend isn’t allowed to touch my ass in public, being a grown-up can shove it.