I remember the pain and awkwardness of my 20s. My teens was painful and awkward, too, but it was pre-widespread internet usage, so I was not as aware in realtime of how awkward I actually was. When I was in my 20s, I could see everyone else being so put-together and grown up. Yet there I was, in the wobbly-baby-giraffe phase of my adulthood. It was no fun at all. I did have the benefit of several friends already in their 30s who had their acts more-or-less together (at least more together than mine) who were helpful beacons in navigating that decade of transition. Even though I claim to celebrate my 29th birthday again every year, I’m comfortably in the decade of “I certainly don’t have-it-all, but I’m satisfied with what I have.”
Inspiration for this post came to me in the shower this morning. The shower is my best thinking spot, especially when I make Mr. Beez take Baby Beez to school, leaving me to take a shower without a small person tapping on the glass door and demanding attention. 10 minutes of quiet do wonders for the brain.
In my few minutes of thoughtful solitude, I thought about all the ways that my 30s have been better than my 20s:
- I am no longer terrified of going into the movies or a restaurant or a bar by myself. Sometimes I even go alone on purpose. And LIKE it.
- I can comfortably navigate a bar menu and wine list.
- I am OK with my tastes changing from time to time. I can acknowledge that things I used to hate have become things I now love (see: mint, Indian food, massages, popcorn balls, Bloody Mary’s), without fretting that a change in taste has destroyed my identity. Who knows, maybe someday I will even develop a taste for dark beers or sweet white wines.
- I’m less hung up on what other people think. I can’t claim I don’t care what other people think, I still do, but I do not allow my life to be driven by the judgment of others. Because sometimes the comfort of wearing yoga pants completely outweighs the side-eye tossed in your direction.
- I’ve become much better at finding the “bright side” of things, even tiny mundane things. For example, recently I was stuck waiting in Family Court from 9am-4pm. In my 20s I’d be buzzing around furious. Now, I realize I have no control over when my case will be called, so might as well sit back, read a book on my phone, and relax. Maybe this has more to do with being better at realizing what I can control and what I cannot, but in any event, it makes life a lot easier.
- I have a better sense of my strengths. I am better at focusing my efforts (whether at work, volunteering, etc.) in ways that channel my strengths, and bringing in help to fill in the gaps where I am less strong.
- I have a better sense of my weaknesses. And I can tell which weaknesses are worthwhile to develop and overcome, and which ones I should accept and move on (I will never be a dancer or a concert pianist. And that is fine with me.)
- My friendships are closer and stronger than ever before. Your 20s is all about networking and casting your net as wide as possible. In your 30s, those friendships really develop into people you can count on, and who can count on you.
- I can finally do a reasonably good job at blowdrying my hair, applying my own nail polish and putting on liquid eyeliner. Those skills take PRACTICE. Relatedly, I can walk in heels without looking like a drunk flamingo.
- I can go to bed at 9pm and feel awesome about it. No more of this hitting the bar at 10pm business. That’s what happy hour is for. I like my sleep.