30 Before 30
In honor of my upcoming 30th birthday, I’ve researched countless “things to do before 30” lists. And while there are plenty to choose from, I kept coming back to “Thirty Things Every Woman Should Have and Should Know by the Time She’s 30.”
The List was originally published in Glamour by columnist Pamela Redmond Satran in 1997. Over the next 30 weeks, I’ll be tackling each item on The List and reflecting about it here… publicly (gulp). I hope you enjoy and we can grow together. After all, turning older is a privilege denied to many.
By 30, you should know…
27. That nobody gets away with smoking, drinking, doing drugs or not flossing for very long.
This very well could be the thing that makes many feel like life is over at 30. Fun is done. Show is over. Throw in the towel now, grandma.
What Katie Crouch, this week’s author, emphasizes instead is all of the things she lost from focusing too much on booze and not enough on being present.
We’ll get to my perspective on it in a moment, but first, I’ll glaze over the other vices — just as Katie did.
My parents were smokers until my dad’s stroke at age 45, so my brother and I were kids who didn’t want to repeat the cycle. Have I ever smoked? Yes. And I do enjoy a celebratory cigar with my male relatives at weddings and big events. But I’ve never purchased a pack of cigarettes, and I still can’t stand the smell. I hated the clouds of smoke in NYC, and I hate them even more now on the rare occasion I smell one in SF. My brother, to this day, has never smoked a cigarette. So, smoking? Not an issue.
I won’t play Polly Perfect and tell you I’ve never tried drugs either. I will say, though, I’ve only ever experimented with marijuana and I have no desire to try anything else. It doesn’t matter if Molly is trending or cocaine will keep the party going. I want no part of it. And weed lost its luster after a bad trip years ago at a friend’s wedding weekend. It killed the mood and made me completely paranoid, a feeling I didn’t ever want to experience again. Since then, I find the skunky smell less inviting… even though it’s a daily feature of SF life.
Not flossing… talk about a buzzkill! I set a goal for myself just last year to commit regularly to the painful practice. I’ve had every dental issue under the sun, so why wouldn’t I prioritize something to help me be healthier? I still don’t floss every single day and night, but I did recently purchase an electric toothbrush to signal my acceptance of adulthood and help keep my chompers intact. And as much as I loathe threading floss through my permanent bottom retainer (TMI?), I’m not willing to give that up and risk having my paid-for pearly whites shift around.
Now, back to alcohol: the belle of the (high)ball. Crouch details some of her lowest lows from years of boozing, and while I haven’t missed a friend’s rehearsal dinner because of it, I’ve certainly been to work hungover (sometimes, yes, still drunk). I’ve flirted with guys I wouldn’t come within a mile of if I were sober. I’ve been vulnerable and in compromising situations and made stupid choices, because I realized too late I’d had too many.
It doesn’t help that my family history is littered with addiction, alcohol included. I’m fortunate to say we’ve had more triumphs than tragedy, but my childhood understanding of alcohol was seeing it used as a mechanism for coping, celebrations and everything in between. I thought it was normal to drink with family members at home when I was 14. I didn’t see the correlation between my incredibly high tolerance and predisposition for the disease.
You may recall my post from February, about being sober for a month. This conscious decision to refrain from drinking for 31 days brought a few things into laser focus for me. Have I indulged in alcohol since then? You betcha. But I’ve also found other ways to cope with a stressful or disappointing day. I don’t say nearly as often how much “I need a drink” and suggest socializing with workouts or other activities that won’t kill my liver.
And as fun as it might be in the moment, the hangovers that come with age are no joke. All the Pedialyte and breakfast sandwiches in the world won’t change that.
As Crouch says, setting some basic rules for yourself can help ease you into a life less fueled by alcohol. While I *barely* have crow’s feet, and certainly not lines that creep past my cheekbones, I can live with limiting nights out past midnight to one per week. “Slow[ing] down enough to build… relationships, career and a family” actually sounds like one heck of a party, if you ask me. Cheers to that.