When you’re in your twenties, the impending big 3-0 is terrifying. It seems like a benchmark age at which you should have accomplished so much. You may have planned on being married and starting a family by age 30, or landing that big promotion and buying a home solo. If you don’t actually accomplish those goals as quickly as you’d hoped, there’s no need to freak out about it. The truth is, no matter what you have going on in your life, your thirties are so much more awesome than your twenties. Here are just a few of the reasons to love and celebrate your third decade of life.
- You know what you want to do with your career, and you’re pursuing it every day. Your twenties start out in an awkward college phase, and become even more awkward after graduation as you learn how to live in the adult world and how to survive in the business world. You get through those years using a lot of trial and error, and you figure out over time what you really want to do. By the time you reach your thirties, you’ve figured out your professional goals and the best plan to accomplish them. The confidence you build up is infectious, and employers love your combination of young energy and just a bit of experiential wisdom.
- You know what you want in a guy and you won’t settle for less. When you’re in your twenties, you have an idea of what you want and don’t want in a guy but you don’t strictly enforce boundaries or deal breakers. Unfortunately, that leads to dating a lot of duds and spending way too long in dead-end relationships. By the time you reach your thirties, you know exactly what you want and you have the confidence to quickly get out of situations that fail to meet your standards. It’s a good thing to be picky, because you are saving yourself from unnecessary heartbreak and wasted time.
- You’ve learned to love yourself, despite your perceived flaws. As women, insecurity is something we struggle with a lot as we grow up. Media bombards us with images of wealthy, successful women who have perfect bodies, and we wonder how we’ll ever measure up. By the time you reach your thirties, you’ve heard all the BS body-shaming comments and every other kind of ridiculous criticism the world has to offer, and you’ve built up the strength to combat those feelings of inadequacy. If you are able to look in the mirror and say “I am beautiful,” it doesn’t matter if someone else thinks your thighs are too thick; you’ve already won the battle by loving yourself.
- You’ve learned how to enjoy being alone. Being alone is an art form, and it doesn’t feel so comfortable when you’re first discovering who you are. It goes back to that plague of insecurity we experience in our youth, but, when we become more comfortable in our own skin and lives, we no longer require the validation of others. That doesn’t mean we become total hermits; it just means that we make social plans when we legitimately want to hang out with someone rather than using the posse as a security blanket.
- Your household is more adult in the best ways. Everyone looks back fondly on their college years, rolling pennies to buy some Easy Mac and Natural Light, but no one wants to live that way forever. When you reach your thirties and have some kind of steady income, you can afford things that used to be luxuries like decent food and drinks, a washer and dryer, and a car with functioning A/C. Enjoy this time! You should be proud that you’ve worked your way up to a better life, and it will continue to get even better if you keep working hard and believing in yourself.
- You aren’t afraid of your parents’ criticism anymore. Nothing defines your twenties quite like those awkward phone conversations with your parents about what the hell you’re doing with your life and why it’s all wrong. Your B’s in college should be A’s, your boyfriend (with whom you’ve never had sex, of course) should be a few months away from popping the question, and that pink streak in your hair should be gone because they don’t approve of your individuality. When you’re in your thirties, you don’t give a damn what they think anymore. You’re not afraid to tell them how it actually is, because you know you’re owning this life and you don’t need their approval anymore to be happy.
- You have a backup plan for everything. If there’s one thing you’ve learned all too well, it’s that life is what happens when you’re busy making plans. Now that you’re in your thirties, you know better than to count on Plan A; you have a Plan B for everything. If your dream career doesn’t work out, you have a few other options in mind that will be enjoyable; if you don’t meet Mr. Right in time to start a family, you’ll have a mini-me by yourself at the age of your choosing. No matter what happens, you are prepared to face it head-on and make your life amazing.
- You don’t need anyone’s charitable help. Nothing is more empowering than being able to handle all of life’s challenges singlehandedly. Throughout your life, you’ve learned how to change your own oil and tires, fix small stuff around the house, cook, and keep the bills paid. If you run across a task too big for one person, like moving, you can hire some help. You aren’t going to be indebted to anyone because you are 100% in control of meeting your own needs.
While getting older can be scary, it’s also wonderful because we become wise, independent, decisive, and completely badass. You should own those qualities, because that strength will carry you through future decades as well. When you think back on your twenties, don’t focus on how your body has changed. Think about all the wisdom you have now that you didn’t have ten years ago, and how much stronger you are as a person. That’s where your true value and sustenance comes from.