6 months before I turned 30 I was at boozy brunch with my best friend because I am a basic bitch who also loves alliteration. I mentioned being apprehensive about 30 and she said “I can’t wait for it. It’s going to be all red lipstick and zero fucks given.” That moment marked a turning point for me. She had given me permission to rewrite my mindset. I realized I had never really been worried about turning 30 myself but was letting others’ judgments seep in. Suddenly I was psyched for 30. Who knew what it would bring?!
Now that I am beyond that magical 30th year, I reflect on lessons I’ve learned.
1. Nobody cares.
I recently went to a yoga class with two friends. After we left, one asked “Didn’t you love the music?” I hadn’t noticed. I commented on the teaching style and which parts I liked and didn’t. Neither had noticed. My third friend moaned that he had thought he was at the back of the class but had actually positioned himself at the front by mistake and was convinced everyone could see his errors. Neither of us had even known where he was in class.
No one is paying attention to you. I mean that in the best possible way. Nobody cares if you wore that sweater last week, or you’re stretching that blowout beyond its limits, or you stumbled in your presentation. We are all so obsessed with maintaining our own images and personas that we don’t have any extra time or energy to spend noticing others'. It sounds harsh, but really it’s liberating. If nobody cares that I stuttered over the name of the new SVP, then instead of obsessively worrying over it before I go to sleep, I can spend 11 pm to 2 am lying in bed actually…sleeping?! Which will make me better at my job? And happier? And then I’ll actually produce better results and mess up less? What a delightful cycle! Spend less time focused on what others may think of you and do what your personal values tell you is right.
2. If someone wants to get in touch with you, they will.
This is true for jobs, dates, friends, family, prospective clients... everyone. I can’t count how many times a potential client has reached out to me with the best intentions and then canceled a call, or flaked on a follow-up, or just never responded beyond the initial contact. And don’t even get me started on the number of ghosters I’ve dated. People need to be ready for whatever it is: coaching, a new relationship, a sales pitch. Whether they admit it or not, people do know themselves, and something in the back of their minds prevents them from committing. I had a boyfriend in college who got drunk one night and tried to break up with me for a very confusing, convoluted reason. When I pressed him, he finally mumbled, “I’m just going to screw it up anyway. You might as well get out now.” I didn’t, and it took 2 more years for us to spectacularly burn down what we had built. He knew himself and I wasn’t ready to listen. So don’t force it. It won’t end well for anyone involved.
3. Your #girlgang needs to be pared down to your ride-or-dies.
The year I turned 30 was the year I slashed and burned relationships that were doing me no good. I implemented a full-on scorched earth policy. I had believed deeply in forgiveness and second chances, right up until I turned 30, looked at every person I had ever given a second chance to, and realized that 0% of those chances yielded returns on my investment. As Dr. Maya Angelou said, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them.”
Yes, minor issues with people you care about should be worked through before throwing in the towel. And bigger issues should be worked through with those you consider family (blood or not). But when someone hurts you, or betrays you, or treats you in a way that does not acknowledge the goddess that you are, you are done. That won’t change. Anyone who wants to make themselves seem brighter by dimming your light (or stealing your wind!) is toxic, and must be cut out for your own sake. Turning 30 made me realize that there is nothing wrong with burning a bridge if the only thing it connects you back to is pain.
As the great Audre Lorde said, “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence. It is self-preservation and that is an act of political warfare.” 30 was the year I stopped doing juice cleanses, bootcamps, and fad diets. Instead, I committed to a lifestyle that is primarily focused on food that comes from the earth, but stopped beating myself up for “slips.” Anyone who knows me that when it comes to alcohol, I am as basic as they come: white wine or bust. I’ve been yelled at by nutritionists who tell me it’s pure sugar, who beg me to at least learn how to drink red wine because it has resveratrol, or to give it up completely in favor of vodka. I try. But I keep coming back to my one true love.
I accepted that catering to extremes is not healthy for me. Now, I go to CrossFit regularly but don’t berate myself when life gets busy and I miss it for multiple days in a row, because the muscle I’m building doesn’t disappear overnight. I got a panel of bloodwork done that revealed issues with my iron levels and my thyroid activity, and I took steps to correct them. I look at the money I spend on these things as an investment in the next 100 years (yes, I am quite optimistic about my longevity). I get regular facials, invest in worthwhile beauty products, and get enough sleep. But the number one most important way I put myself first is that I forgive myself for transgressions big and small.
5. Let go of FOMO.
I can now admit that I enjoy watching The Crown on a Friday night instead of going to a bar. Who even meets someone at a bar, anyway? (Answer: my parents, who just celebrated their 35th anniversary. Whatever.) I cherish the relationships I have with my girlfriends (see #3) and make time for long, luxurious dinners and brunches with them. We make no plans after, and never make one another feel squeezed into our lives. Some of my most rewarding friendships now date back to early high school, and I am so grateful that we have all grown and changed in ways that support each other and light each other’s torches.
Overall, I feel so much more comfortable in my skin. People who were older than I am told me it would happen and I scoffed. I felt that I was pretty well established into my identity by my late twenties and couldn’t see how a birthday would make a big difference one way or another. I was so pleasantly surprised to be wrong, and I wish everyone the kind of feeling of being at peace with themselves and their choices that I have. I know who I am, I know what I value, and every decision I make comes from that place. Happiness will always ebb and flow, but because there is no disconnect for me between my value system and my actions, I am able to have faith that a flow will always follow an ebb because I am always doing what is right for me.