On July 3, I turned 30. It feels so strange to say it, even though I'd been rolling it around in my head and on my tongue for months before the actual event, trying to get a feel for the sound and idea of entering a new decade. Here it is almost two months later, and I still can't quite grasp the concept. It just seems so foreign to me; the thought of turning 30. Honestly, the thought of entering my 30s never occurred to me until I turned 27. Strange as that may sound, I promise that it's true. I live in a bubble, people.
Part of the problem is that I've always acted younger than my actual age. Some people might call that being immature: I'll introduce those people to my mother, and they'll applaud me for being able to speak in an adult voice, and not break into baby-talk every third word. Looking at myself in the mirror, I certainly don't see a thirty-year old woman. I see the same insecure, chubby kid I always was, only in better clothes and the hint of laugh lines around my mouth. Maybe for my 31st birthday, I'll buy myself a Botox injection.
I don't even know how people in their 30s are supposed to act. Am I supposed to put away the things I love-- blogging American Idol, Heroes, dancing around the house in my pajamas while lip-syncing to Madonna and Fergie--and take up a sudden interest in horticulture and dinner parties? I look at other people my age, and they just seem so much..older. Not the people I graduated high school with, of course; they're forever burned in my memory as seventeen years old, as well. But people I meet, who are 30, 31, 32? They seem so together. I just start muttering and feeling like that same kid who never knew what to do with her feet and hands.
Being the list-loving gal that I am, I began to wonder if there was a checklist for those of us who don't know what to do with themselves now that they've turned 30. What should I know? What should I have accomplished by now? Lucky for me, I found just that, written by Pamela Redmond Satran, a contributor to Glamour magazine. (I have my comments in parentheses.)
1. One old boyfriend you can imagine going back to and one who reminds you of how far you’ve come. (Um, no to the first one. I've taken some hard knocks, but I'm happy with who I've ended up with, and know that I probably wouldn't have Richie if I hadn't been through them.)
2. A decent piece of furniture not previously owned by anyone else in your family. (Done! Actually, all my living room furniture is brand new.)
3. Something perfect to wear if the employer or man of your dreams wants to see you in an hour. (Naturally, I have this one covered.)
4. A purse, a suitcase and an umbrella you’re not ashamed to be seen carrying. (Gosh, I thought this was going to be hard! Maybe I've got this whole 30-thing down after all.)
5. A youth you’re content to move beyond. (Oh. Well, I keep trying to run from it. Does that count?)
6. A past juicy enough that you’re looking forward to retelling it in your old age. (God, no. I've probably had the most boring past every. Unless you count all my cautionary tales of dating.)
7. The realization that you are actually going to have an old age—and some money set aside to help fund it. (I'll admit it--it's scary, thinking about getting old. And no, we haven't started saving for it yet.)
8. A résumé that is not even the slightest bit padded. (Because I've changed jobs so many times, trying to escape banking, I've got this one covered.)
9. One friend who always makes you laugh and one who lets you cry. (I am one lucky girl. I have several friends who are both these people wrapped up into one. I love you all.)
10. A set of screwdrivers, a cordless drill and a black lace bra. (Yep.)
11. Something ridiculously expensive that you bought for yourself, just because you deserve it. (Not yet, but trust me, I have that pair of Christian Laboutin pumps saved in my bookmarks.)
12. The belief that you deserve it. (Again, trust me on this one. You people know that I know that I deserve it.)
13. A skin-care regimen, an exercise routine and a plan for dealing with those few other facets of life that don’t get better after 30. (I need to get to work on that exercise routine.)
14. A solid start on a satisfying career, a satisfying relationship and all those other facets of life that do get better. (I can finally say for the first time in my life, I've had two jobs back to back that I really like. HBR was the job I needed to get my confidence back after banking destroyed it; working in insurance is actually satisfying. You get to really help people.)By 30, you should know:
1. How to fall in love without losing yourself. (I fell in love at an early age--and kind of lost myself for a while. But luckily, I married a man who allowed me to reclaim it, and found out he loves me...just the way I am.)
2. How you feel about having kids. (I've got kids, and I'm smart enough to know that we're done. Don't get me started. Maybe another blog.)
3. How to quit a job, break up with a man and confront a friend without ruining the friendship. (And with style!)
4. When to try harder and when to walk away. (Yeah, banking definitely taught me this.)
5. How to kiss in a way that communicates perfectly what you would and wouldn’t like to happen next. (Well, I'm not one to kiss and tell, but...)
6. The names of: the secretary of state, your great-grandmother and the best tailor in town. (Best two out of three? I don't know anything about politics.)
7. How to live alone, even if you don’t like to. (I lived alone before Richie and I were married.)
8. How to take control of your own birthday. (Beginning with my 30th, I can emphatically say, Yes! I definitely need to write about the best birthday presents Richie ever gave me.)
9. That you can’t change the length of your calves, the width of your hips or the nature of your parents. (I'm quite happy with the length of my calves, and my hips. It's my stomach I want to shrink. Oh, and my folks? I knew a long time ago there was no changing them.)
10. That your childhood may not have been perfect, but it’s over. (Thank God!)
11. What you would and wouldn’t do for money or love. (I knew this by the time I turned 20.)
12. That nobody gets away with smoking, drinking, doing drugs or not flossing for very long. (Again, by the time I was 20.)
13. Who you can trust, who you can’t and why you shouldn’t take it personally. (I wish we'd all learned this in middle school.)
14. Not to apologize for something that isn’t your fault. (I'm still learning this particular point.)
15. Why they say life begins at 30.
As for the last point, I can say honestly that I cannot wait to discover what lies ahead.
Next time: An American Idol rant.