Like most people, I had a minor freak-out as my thirtieth birthday approached several years ago. Thirty just sounds old when you’ve spent ten years in your 20s. My 20s were filled with drama and life changes like moving away from home, finding a spouse and starting a family. So much can change in such a short amount of time, and when you’re looking the big 3-0 in the eye, it can appear as though the fun part of life is waning and your better days are behind you.
This, I’ve surmised, couldn’t be further from the truth. My 30s have been amazing so far and it’s because I’ve learned and found peace with who I’ve been and who I am now. It’s been a time of reflection. Here are ten epiphanies I’ve had which explain why my 30s are the best age ever.
1. I’m comfortable in my body.
I may not always love it, but I like it almost all of the time. A pimple doesn’t send me over the edge. A bad hair day is what it is. A little muffin top isn’t the end of the world. I have the body I have and I no longer obsess about it. I aim to be healthy without being obsessive. I’m proud of what my body has done and will do, and I cut it some slack.
2. I don’t have time for bullshit.
If my dentist appointment is at 1 p.m., and I’m still in the waiting room at 1:45 without anyone checking in with me, I’ll be looking for a new dentist. If I’m waiting 30 minutes for a menu after being seated at a restaurant, I’ll be seeing my way out. My time is valuable and if you’re not going to respect it, then I will be taking my money — and my teeth — elsewhere.
3. Friendships are more about quality than quantity.
This is a slow lesson you learn after high school or college. You go from being surrounded by people you call friends all day, every day, and then you find yourself having to make actual plans days in advance to connect and catch up. You learn who you care about and who cares about you, and you hold on tight to those real friendships even though their number may be fewer than it used to be.
4. I eat what I want.
In my 20s, I would obsess a little bit about my weight or the calories in things and ask myself, “Do I really need that piece of cheesecake?” Nowadays, I follow the “everything in moderation” rule, so if I want to make a chocolate cake from a box and eat half of it for dinner, I’m going to do it with zero remorse or regrets. This is my life, this is my body, and I’m done worrying too much about what I put into it.
5. I’ve learned the importance of self-care.
I don’t do all-nighters anymore like I did in my 20s. I don’t drink excessively the night before I have to go to work. I know what my body needs. I know when I need to get a good night’s sleep and I make it happen. I know when I need to pop in a workout DVD and get my sweat on to rid myself of some lethargy. I’ve learned how to listen to my body, listen to my mind, and do what I need to do to take care of myself.
6. I think I’m awesome.
I’m not perfect, so I still have insecurities — but for the most part, I kind of dig myself. I know I’m a good person. I know I have a better-than-average sense of humor. I know what my skills and gifts are and I know how to use them. I know who I am and what I’m about, and I genuinely think I’m a damn good catch. If someone disagrees, screw them. I’m amazing.
7. I dream bigger than I did in my 20s.
So much of my previous decade was spent asking questions like, “Who am I? What am I about? What do I want to do with my life?” Now that I’ve found myself to a degree, I can look in the right directions and aim for the skies. Rather than trying to figure out what I should be doing with my life, I’m instead using my mental energy to discern what I want to do with my life. So much freedom and so many dreams to catch.
8. I know what I believe.
My religious leanings are figured out. My stances on social justice issues are well-researched and decided upon. My parenting philosophies and thoughts on marriage are strong and bring me solace when I’m questioning myself. Whereas I used to be easily swayed by mediocre opinions, I now know where my faith lies. Though I am always open to a different path and not close-minded, I am now confident in my beliefs.
9. I accept my flaws.
I’m a terrible housekeeper. I have a bad temper. I don’t wash my face every night before bed. I’m not saying I don’t want to continue to improve myself and my mind and body, but some things just aren’t going to change and I’m okay with that. It’s part of who I am, part of what makes me me, and I’m done stressing out about them.
10. I’m optimistic about my future.
Now that the extensive, exhausting soul searching of my 20s has come to completion, I feel good about where I’m going in life. I feel like I can raise good kids. I feel like I can be a good wife. I feel like I can make a difference in the world, and it feels good. I have a lot of hope about where I’m going.
My 30s are shaping up as a pretty incredible decade. I’ve heard from older women that it only gets better in my 40s. While I know many of my peers are stressing out about getting older, I am stoked for the life experiences and wisdom to be gained and the continued self-confidence I’ll get to grow within myself. Bring it on, life.