Intolerants Rant: Getting Better and Better With Age – The “Love for 30 Project”
Honey, welcome to my box. – Samantha Jones, Sex and the City
I can’t help but wonder if getting older in today’s world is harder than it was seventy, fifty or even twenty years ago. What, with all the commercial capitalism, photoshopped bodies, faux appendages and Crème de la Mer faces, it’s hard not to feel like you’re flagging behind in the wake of all this perfection.
And those are just the physical things.
On the other end of the spectrum are the notions of what we should want and should have. Marks of achievement that may include three perfect children, one high flying job, a thriving entrepreneurial business, a single white picket fence and three platinum Visa cards that take you on holiday to places that claim that supposedly treat you like the VIP you of course are.
Sometimes it’s exhausting just thinking about it, much less trying to keep up. Thankfully, being in my 30s has softened me in many ways, and has resulted in taking a pause from racing around the hamster wheel to rebel against various societal notions, let go of things that don’t work anymore and constantly reevaluate what is important…to me. Right now. At this point in my life. It’s been an interesting journey so far, replete with challenges and successes, errors in judgement and roads not travelled. Along the way I’ll catch of glimpse of my 20-something self, as she’ll either come up in temperament or I’ll see her emerge at the corner of the mirror. She never sticks around for long, but when she does stop in for a visit I try to get her to divulge what she thinks of all this. Whether she approves of the path I’ve chosen to take.
I’ll normally pause and wait a few moments, then find myself chuckling inwardly mainly because my 20-something self makes me laugh, but also because what’s great about being in your 30s is that you start to march in time to the beat of your own drummer.
You stop giving a damn about meeting everyone’s expectations.
You stop counting the shoulda, coulda, woulda’s.
Erin Kennedy who runs My Thirty Spot (a fantastic resource for women in the 30-something zone) has been busy building up the Love for 30 Project. It’s an initiative geared towards women headed for/in/about to leave behind their 30s and allows them to share various thoughts, ideas, hopes and fears on what it means to be 30 (and fabulous…exclamation point). With my 20-something self in mind I decided to write a letter to her. Nothing fancy, just some tips for the forthcoming decade and sharing a few subtle reminders that could help her along her way.
Perhaps ease the transition as she crosses over.
Dear 20-something me,
I hope you’re well and not reading this through a haze of vodka and sleep deprivation, though I have a sneaking suspicion you probably are. I also hope you managed to turn in your dissertation on time and you didn’t kiss that cute European guy at the bar last night. Ah yes, those 20-something years…what a riot! I know you’re having a fantastic time as you work towards your aspirations and find your place in this world. The reason why I’m writing you is that I know – deep down – you have some reservations though about turning thirty and moving through that decade towards 40, 50, 60 and (let’s hope) beyond. I know it’s incredibly tricky to get from point A to B even when there’s a map to provide guidance, so I thought I’d offer ten tips that may be useful along the way and could assuage some of your fears. Yes, I know you have them.
But don’t worry. I won’t tell anyone.
First off, try to manage your expectations because life will not work out how you planned and, sadly, there’s no way to circumnavigate this hard, cold fact. Be flexible with your timeline(s) and wily when it comes to overcoming obstacles. Be open to forging new paths and leaving behind the patterns and places that no longer work for you. Be prepared to deal with malicious people, envious people and people who feel that sabotage is the only way to get what they want.
Don’t stoop to their level, but don’t cower either; and whatever you do, don’t settle.
Secondly: You’ll be in amazing shape in your 30s and your brain will naturally start to override things like XXS, size 0 and over-photoshopped magazines. You will gradually find yourself adopting practices that allow you to balance your mental, physical and spiritual selves. You’ll figure out you don’t care for processed, sugar-laden and additive-filled foods along with all the other things that make you feel like you’re operating in a thick grey fog. You will learn that while a rich and boisterous Rioja still tastes divine, drinking a bottle of it in one sitting won’t do you any favours.
Do not panic. Reach for the corkscrew. Have a glass of Chardonnay and call it a night.