Having recently celebrated my second annual 30th birthday (ahem) I thought now would be a good time to check in and share a few of the lessons I learned during the first year of my 30s:
1) 2 a.m. is for sleeping
Years ago, it felt like closing time always came too soon. We would race to get in one more rum and Coke before the harsh bar lights came on and security herded us against our will toward the door. These days, I’m lucky to make it past midnight. And go out drinking on Friday night after a full work week? Yeah, you can forget that.
2) Dating is “scary”
When you’re 16, dating is exciting and fun and you can’t wait to do it. But apparently once you hit 30, it takes a frightening turn. Probably because no one expected to still be doing it at this age. I can’t tell you how many single 30-something friends I’ve talked to – male, female, straight, gay – who have used the word “scary” to describe the dating experience. The cause of their fear seems to run the gamut: They’re afraid of getting hurt; they’re afraid of commitment; they’re afraid they’re never going to find “the one” and OMG TIME IS RUNNING OUT. Yeah, once 30 hits, dating is no longer the carefree picnic it once was.
3) Concerts without seats are not worth the price of admission
If I don’t have access to a seat with a back – that’s not too close to the speakers – I’m probably not going.
4) The universe doesn’t care about that life plan you made in high school
When you’re a clueless teenager and 30 is a zillion years away it’s natural to set that particular “grown-up” age as a target date for some of life’s most major events. Maybe you told your cavalier 16-year-old self you’d be married by the time you hit 30 or have your first child. Or maybe you imagined that’s when you’d have your dream home and your fantasy job. We naively assumed we’d have it all figured out by this age. Yet, many of us don’t, because, well, life happened instead, which brings me to the next realization.
5) These aren’t our parents’ 30s
Of course every 30-something is different, but for many of us, 30 looks a lot different than it did for our moms and dads. Our generation, as a whole, is waiting longer than our parents did to get married, to have kids, to settle down in one spot. We’re changing jobs more frequently, restlessly trying to figure out what we want to do when we grow up. And we’re determined to tick adventures off our bucket lists before saddling ourselves with too many real-life adult responsibilities. While many of our parents were already “settled” by 30 – with toddlers and mortgages and what have you – a lot of us 30-sometings today, for better or worse, just aren’t quite there yet.