Ask A Woman: Navigating the Dirty Thirties.
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Aging brings about occasional revelations, if we pay attention to it. A few years after you leave college, you might discover that drinking all night no longer allows you to bounce back the next morning and have a productive (or vertical) day. A few years after that, you notice you’re developing permanent bags under your eyes, even if you routinely get enough sleep. Not all aging is bad though. In fact, my experience of aging has been mostly positive. A bit fiery in my youth, I’m now slower to anger. Resistant to spontaneity and change for so long, I’m now more open to the joys of the unexpected. Recognizing and embracing these revelations is important to growing, as is actively seeking out change as you age (instead of waiting for change to be revealed to you). Here I’ve assembled a short list of things–both serious and whimsical–you might consider leaving by the wayside as you age.
Sleeping on a friend’s floor
When you’re 20, road tripping to Daytona with four other dudes smashed in a sedan, stopping along the way to sleep at a friend of a friend’s apartment in a sleeping bag in the hallway between the bathroom and living room makes good financial sense. When you’re 23, returning to your college town for homecoming and stuffing so many people in one motel room you are relegated to spending the night in a pillow-bottomed tub shows thriftiness. When you hit 30 and you start limping home from pick-up basketball games and your knees begin to crack a bit when you get out of bed in the morning and 7 hours of sleep is the minimum needed to keep your sanity, these cost-cutting measure have seen the end of their utility. Take this as a sign that when planning trips, even small ones, you want to either secure decent lodging with people you know (who have an actual bed in an actual guest room) or budget a chunk of dough to having your own hotel room. If that means you have to scale down on other parts of your vacay? So be it. Travel is not much fun with a sore back and sleep-deprived cognitive function.
Moving without hiring professional movers
Moving is the worst. There is no one who likes to move. There may be people who are compelled to move often by circumstance, but no one looks forward to packing up all their possessions, carrying them into a truck or van, driving them across town or country, carrying them into a new residence and then unpacking everything. In your twenties, you probably moved all your stuff yourself, or with the help of family. That’s fine, you were young and foolish and broke. Once you hit 30…hire movers to spare you at least the back-breaking part of the ordeal. Also, offering to give your friends beer and pizza to help you move is no longer much of an incentive. We can buy our own beer and pizza and consume all of it while sitting on a couch and not risking a hernia. Just hire movers.
Rachel, Chandler–none of your Friends want to help you move.
Seeking out or tolerating drama in relationships
We’ve talked about it in this space before, but one of the secrets you learn as you get older is that you’re not required to put up with other people’s bullshit. Maybe your girlfriend or boyfriend is always looking for reasons to be mad at you–you called her five minutes later than you said you would, you looked at another man out of the corner of your eye, she doesn’t want you to hang out with your friends, he thinks you should spend all holidays with his family. Perhaps it’s recently dawned on you that a friend you’ve had forever has actually evolved into a jackass who gives you nothing but grief. This is the age to take stock of your life and decide–is this person (romantic or platonic) really a good fit for me? Is it constant drama, conflict, heartbreak, or annoyance? There is no reason to hold on to dysfunction. It’s not serving you, and it’s certainly not serving the miserable person you’re with.
Eating takeout or processed food everyday
Kraft mac n’ cheese, frozen pot pies, pizza, $1 value menu burgers—these were necessities in college and maybe right after, when you didn’t have the time, resources, or knowledge to cook and eat properly. You had exams! You had a food budget of $11 per week! You had a beer budget of $25 per week! Priorities! No more. You don’t need to become a gourmand or spend all your discretionary income on organic, local food if that’s not your bag. But you do need to start paying attention to what you put in your body. That means cooking or preparing most of your meals yourself, at home, using mainly fresh ingredients. Simple vegetable and chicken stir-fry, tasty salad with a variety of healthy ingredients, pasta with homemade sauce, even just a grilled cheese sandwich with a side of fruit—learn how to make some simple dishes that provide basic nutrients. In ten years your colon will thank you for it.
Acting like you’re invincible
This one seems to come to many people naturally, so I hope that’s the case with everyone reading. But in case it’s not…in your teens and perhaps part of your twenties, let’s be honest, you acted like an ass (I’m including myself in this group). You drank too much, you drove when you should have called a cab, you scaled your roof to adjust the satellite dish, you stood on the top rung of the ladder while painting, you refused to walk away when that douche at the bar was trying to pick a fight. You did this, I did this, we all did this. While none of this is acceptable behavior, to some extent, it’s necessary to growing up. Humans don’t just suddenly develop common sense–we make really big mistakes, sometimes suffer greatly from them, and then realize we were dopes. Messing up is the most effective path to change, but you have to recognize your errors, and then make an effort not to repeat them. When you were 19, you thought nothing could hurt you. Now that you’re 30, realize that’s far from the truth and make choices that keep you safe and whole. And cheers to the next decade.
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