When I finally turned 30, I felt like a weight had been lifted. I had dreaded the big 3-0 ever since I turned 25, and knowing it was inescapable bothered me. I’ve never done well with the whole aging thing. But then I turned 30, and it wasn’t so scary after all. By the time I was a couple years into my 30s, I realized that it’s awesome in these parts, for a myriad of reasons, and self-awareness is definitely at the top of that list. In many ways, you’ve officially arrived once you reach your 30s and it’s a relief. Here are 12 of those relief-inducing things you should know about yourself by your 30s:
1. You should know when you’re wasting your time.
In our 20s, we sort of dawdle while we try to figure out our next move. We stay in relationships too long, stick with jobs that make us miserable, and tolerate friendships that are toxic. But in your 30s, you not only finally understand that all that is a waste of your time, but that you’re just done with it.
2. You should know when you’ve had enough.
Whether it’s alcohol, chocolate cake, or that stupid bad boy who keeps texting you at 3AM, your 30s bring you the awareness when you’ve had enough. Of course, whether or not you go with that realization is a totally different story.
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4. You should know when you’re lying to yourself.
When we’re younger, we live in denial. We think we know everything, that we have the world figured out and, by golly, you will be a rich and famous celebrity by the time you’re 35! But with age comes enlightenment and the painful fact that life rarely goes as we plan, so you can’t even pretend to think otherwise.
5. You should know when something doesn’t feel right.
It’s not just about a feeling in your gut, but a feeling all over. Your inner alarm is so finely in tune by the time you get into your 30s.
6. You should know who you should and shouldn’t date.
Your 20s are for experimenting and dating all those guys that your parents hoped you would never, ever marry. Your 30s, on the other hand, after having been through the wringer with so many different types of people, is about only going for those who truly have something to offer a partnership.
7. You should know what you value most.
By the time you reach your 30s, you’ve probably, and quite strongly, aligned yourself politically, socially, and economically. You know what you believe in, what’s important, and you stand by those convictions.
8. You should know who you can trust.
After an adult decade of friends, lovers, coworkers, and neighbors, in your 30s you finally understand and read people more than you ever did before. What this really means is you know who you can count on and who is just for superficial chatter.
9. You should know when you’ve messed up.
Not only do you know it, but you are not afraid to admit to it. It’s both humbling and, sometimes, embarrassing.
10. You should know what it takes to get off.
This isn’t to say that your 20s are void of fantastic Os, but in your 30s you have a deeper understanding of your body and an easier time communicating to your partner that he needs to move his finger or tongue two inches to the left.
11. You should know that you can actually wear whatever you want.
No maxi dresses because you’re too short? No horizontal stripes because you’re chubby? No heels because you’re over 5’11”? Screw it. You can pull off whatever you want and look awesome in it.
12. You should know that you’ll get nowhere without speaking up.
It’s not just about the “squeaky will getting the oil,” but about standing up for what’s wrong and not taking a backseat to your life.
13. You should know you’d do it all the same, if given the chance.
So you messed up along the way? Join the club and, really, who cares? When you reach your 30s you accept that it’s been a rocky road to get to where you are, but you also realize that you are the YOU you are today, because of all your fumbling and indiscretions. Because that’s the case, you know you wouldn’t want it any other way.