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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…
30. Why they say life begins at 30!

Courtesy of Tracey Mammolito Photography

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What a long, strange trip it’s been. As I enter the last week of my 20s, I find myself talking about turning 30 more than I ever thought I would. I’m embracing it head-on — some might say a bit too much — but I’m genuinely excited for what this next decade may bring.

I’ve talked about it before, but I truly never want to look back at a time in my life and think “Those were the best years of my life.” That feels futile and sad. And while not every week, month or year can be the best all the time, I want to look forward and remain hopeful that the best is yet to come.

The editors of Glamour write this week’s closing (before sharing a few more Lists to consider), and they make an excellent point about why 30 often feels so different.

The “comparathon,” as they call it, is generally over. Your 20s are largely about what others are doing, where you “should” be and what’s wrong with you if you’re not there yet. At 30, you start focusing on your own timeline and appreciating what you have done, instead of what you haven’t.

Of course, I had grand plans when I was a child about where I might be at 30. I may not have ever been a “dream wedding” kind of girl, but I thought I’d be so old at 30 — I’d surely have a husband and kids and a white picket fence. A week before 30, and I don’t have any of those things. And that’s not only “OK,” it’s 100% authentic to me.

I have a career I’m quite proud of, one that’s about to reach new heights in just a few weeks (more on that later). I have a social circle of close friends and family, who I know would drop anything when I’m in need. I have a lovely shared home in the most expensive rental market in the US and am no longer sweating over the bill each month. I have relationship experiences which have taught me countless lessons to take into my next partnership.

I still would love to marry someday, maybe have kids (or not!), and own a home. But I don’t think I’m any less successful than my peers who have those things. I’m biased, of course, but I don’t believe success is defined by anyone else but yourself.

My definition of success relates to things you have to work for — whether that’s your education, career accomplishments, parenting wins or being committed to a relationship. A wedding in and of itself, in my opinion, is not an achievement. (For more on this subject, check out this article.)

Your definition of success may be in polar opposition to this. And that’s OK, too. No matter where you are in your life, if you’re happy with it, I’m not going to rain on that parade. I just hope you won’t rain on mine, either.

Some may say I’m making too big a deal over 30, taking more than half a year to chronicle this series, organizing a wine country day and a fundraiser, and — oh yeah — doing a photo shoot. But as I’ve said from the very beginning of this series, I believe in celebrating full blast… getting older is a privilege denied to many.

Cheers to that — and to you all who’ve stuck with me ❤️

ThankYou1

Courtesy of Tracey Mammolito Photography

Photo credit: Tracey Mammolito, hired via Thumbtack
Sign credit: LaineyBugsDesigns, hired via Etsy
Cake credit: Whole Foods
Props credit: Target
Shirt credit: Meee
Accomplice credit: Stephanie Merek & Bear

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…
29. Not to apologize for something that isn’t your fault.

In true Wittyburg fashion, I was going to start this post by apologizing for how late it is in the day (particularly for you East Coasters). The past week was a true roller coaster of highs and lows, and The List eluded me as I clung on for control.

Instead, I won’t apologize. As the editors of Glamour write, there are many situations in which we say “sorry,” when we’ve done absolutely nothing wrong at all.

They make a mild statement about how this may be because it’s “drilled into [women’s] heads to be sweet, accommodating and nurturing.” Ahem. Yes, that’s exactly the root of the issue. I know The List was written in 1997, but this edition was published in 2012. We can be more firm about how traditional gender roles and constructs shaped us all.

Courtesy of The Odyssey Online

Whether it’s someone bumping into us, manspreading on public transportation or cutting us in line, why do we feel the need to apologize? I’m guilty of it myself, don’t get me wrong — but I’ve made a conscious effort over the past few years to minimize my apologies.

Some would argue I’m failing at said effort, for which I have no apology. Feeling bad when others make us uncomfortable is a quality of most women I know. In the past, we haven’t wanted to inconvenience others by speaking up or arguing. Being a “feminist” is still a bad word, for fuck’s sake.

But what I’ve learned — particularly in the past year, and while working in tech — is you can’t apologize for everything. You can be vulnerable and empathetic, of course. But you can’t let others run you over and then say sorry to them.

The criteria where apologies are perfectly fitting? When you hurt someone’s feelings. When you inconvenience them. When you wrong them in any way. NOTE: This does not mean you had a difference of opinion or want them to correct their mistake.

In fact, the longer you accommodate someone and refuse to call them on their BS, the more a disservice you do to them both. If the office gossip is never told to cut it out, they’ll never see the hurt they’re causing. If the friend or family member is never corrected for their poor behavior, they’ll never think they’re doing anything wrong. The entitlement simply won’t end if people aren’t called on it — and most of the time, they don’t even realize they’re being disrespectful!

So while I haven’t banished “sorry” from my vocabulary altogether, I’m doing my best to be more conscious of using it thoughtfully, and when it truly applies. Otherwise, I’m the girl who cried sorry, which makes my actual mistakes and subsequent apologies feel less genuine and meaningful.

It’s a slippery slope from being the sorry girl to the doormat, and it’s one I hope we can all help each other overcome in my lifetime.

Courtesy of DailyHaha.com

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…
28. Who you can trust, who you can’t, and why you shouldn’t take it personally.

Remember when The List covered such fluffy topics as umbrellas and makeup? Trust is far and away one of the most difficult topics for me to discuss on this blog — isn’t it ironic, Alanis?

I’ve been through all sorts of ups and downs in personal and professional relationships. I’ve trusted too much and been burned. I’ve been given too much trust and done the burning in a moment of anger. I’ve trusted too little and burned myself. Trusting and burning, trusting and burning, rinse and repeat.

Courtesy of JeremyChin.com

What does legendary gossip columnist Liz Smith say about trust? Well, she’s got more than 50 years of experience in the business, pissed off many — from Sinatra to Trump — and she’s lived to tell the tale.

Smith’s tips are as follows, with (you guessed it!) my own take below each:

You can usually trust a gal who says it like it is.
This may come in many forms, but I’ve personally tried to live by Maya Angelou’s words: “When people show you who they are, believe them the first time.” This opens up a debate of show versus tell, but I think the point is the same: Most people aren’t living double lives. How they treat a customer service agent, hired help, someone in need… it’s pretty telling of who they are as a human being.

When it comes to romance, heed these words: Trust and verify.
In today’s dating world, we have the ability to research a potential match before we even meet them. There’s the episode of “How I Met Your Mother” which explores the battle of mystery vs. history, i.e.,  wanting to know you’re not meeting up (or already dating) a psychopath, but wanting to keep some mystery alive. My take? It doesn’t hurt to know some basics, like their name, their age (range, at least), what industry they work in… and of course, their app bio says a lot about how much they value words and/or the English language. But some things can also be discovered on a real, live date — and make for a hell of a story after.

Never trust your instincts when you’re angry.
Remember how I said people show you who they are? This might be the one exception. Who hasn’t been frustrated with Comcast after 90 minutes on the phone with them? If you can recognize it in the moment, at least, you can mitigate any major faux pas and save yourself the embarrassment of feeling like a total A-hole. Same goes for traffic temper tantrums, though I think we’re all thankful I haven’t driven regularly in nearly five years.

Assume you can’t trust anyone who’s just handed you a contract.
I don’t have a mountain of personal experience with contractual obligations, aside from rental leases and a million Terms & Conditions I’ve toootally read through. But Smith’s point is 100% valid: Get legal advice before you sign anything! I’ve asked for second opinions on work contracts, and I’ve learned the hard way to get freelance agreements well-documented in writing. Feeling the burn? All right.

Life’s just too short to take every little betrayal personally.
This one may be the hardest of all, because it’s natural to feel like certain behaviors or responses are directed toward you. And with social media, Lord knows some of those are directed at you. Instead of getting into a Twitter feud or FB debate, I’ve learned to not engage. If it really irks me, I might privately message or call the person to try and talk it out. Yes, the trolls are real. But holding onto hatred for them only hurts you.

There are no real secrets, so you might as well tell the truth about things.
Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Public Relations 101. Only you can manage your story. If you’re not up front about certain things — whether it’s being a single mom on the dating scene or messing up at work — the truth will come out. Maybe not right away, and maybe not even with the person you’ve offended. But it will, so why not manage the message and take ownership from the start?

Truthfully, this entire post made me sweat 😅 But being open and vulnerable with you all is kind of the whole point of this series, right?

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.

Courtesy of FB

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…
26. What you would and wouldn’t do for money or love.

Well, duh. Of course I had to start with that softball of a joke.

Seriously, though, this week’s List item could very well be one of the most important challenges. Why’s that, Wittyburg, you ask? Well, because this requires you to know yourself… and you likely haven’t learned about the lengths you’d go (or wouldn’t) for money and love without making a few mistakes.

To navigate this tricky task, our narrator is Lauren Conrad. Yes, THE LC, goddess of high school drama “Laguna Beach,” and then “The Hills,” “The City” and basically all of my domestic dreams. If you were in high school at any point between 2004 and 2009, you binge-watched right along with me and envied LC’s life.

Courtesy of Alchetron.com

Long gone are her days of reality TV, but Conrad’s life is still enviable. She’s built multi-million dollar brands in The Beauty Department, her fashion lines, books and more. She also married a cutie named William Tell(!) and is expecting their first child any day now.

What wasn’t enviable about LC’s former life? Broadcasting her ups and downs as she navigated love and career on national television. While she always looked flawless and generally handled herself with class and charisma, there’s something to be said for putting it all out there at 17.

Thankfully, Lauren’s left us some lessons from her days on reality TV (and since):

What she’d never do for money:

  • Be a phony.
  • Be a manipulator.
  • Work a job she doesn’t love.

What she’d never do for love (at least never again):

  • Turn away from her family and friends.
  • Lie to herself about whether a guy is interested.
  • Sacrifice her own happiness.

(BONUS!) What she will always do for love, no matter how humiliating:

  • Care about the small stuff.
  • One word: Karaoke.

Lauren’s lists made me think about my own lessons, naturally, and there are certainly some parallels.

Being true to yourself is a core component to being successful, in my opinion, but you don’t always have the luxury of time to learn who you are before entering the workforce. You may be thrown into a situation — heck, at 22 or 52 — and have to make a decision that could define (or redefine) your character. You may be asked to do things you’re not comfortable with, and not know how to say no without “getting in trouble.” It’s not easy to make those tough decisions, but it often says a lot about what you’re willing to compromise.

In that same vein, you may be fortunate enough to avoid relationship ethics until well after formative years. I can thank puberty and my tomboyishness for that, but I was also able to discover myself as a person and navigate personal relationships before having to make difficult romantic relationship decisions. I’ve since learned what I will and won’t tolerate, plus what I need from a partner in order to pursue a future with them.

Finally, as Conrad puts it, “…just because you love somebody and they love you back doesn’t mean your relationship makes sense or that it’s a good one for you both to be in.” That may be the hardest lesson of all for me personally, but it’s one I’ll carry with me and apply to all relationships — romantic, personal and professional — for a long time to come.

Courtesy of Pinterest

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…
25. That your childhood may not have been perfect, but it’s over.

Wow, Lisa Ling. Way to hit a girl right in the feels.

The journalist, author and TV hostess narrates this week’s challenge. She explains — with her ever-present grace and poise — how her parents divorced when she was just seven years old. She jumped into a maternal role for her younger sister, and thus began a decades-long pattern of tackling challenges head-on.

This perspective is priceless, particularly as someone whose life also changed overnight at a young age. After our dad’s stroke, my brother and I were told we’d be “growing up fast” and took on respective responsibilities to help around the house. Our childhood didn’t suffer, per se, but it certainly changed our perspectives and family structure more than many of our classmates could empathize with or understand.

As Ling explains about her own experience, “I was teased a lot for being different and I never invited the friends I did have over because I was embarrassed that our house was a disaster on the inside.” She speaks both as a first-generation Chinese-American and as a child of divorced parents, but I think most children seek that comfort and value and security of popularity + perfectionism. What we often failed to realize as kids, though, is how unrealistic those aspirations are.

Courtesy of WeKnowMemes.com

Our experiences are all relative — that is, my absolute worst experience may “pale in comparison” to yours, but that doesn’t make mine (or yours!) any less valid. Whether it’s death; poverty; abuse; or yes — ”even” being unpopular — we’ve all struggled with our own demons. We’ve all wished to walk in someone else’s shoes, daydreaming about what it’d be like to be them for a day. And while I fully support the creative lens and imagination, I hope we each can find things in our own lives to be thankful for; to appreciate those unique experiences only we can say we did.

Remembering your childhood without letting it define you is likely a work in progress for us all. A song or movie sends us back; a conversation triggers our memory; a repeated offense transports us to another place and time.

But, if we can heed Ling’s advice and make peace with our pasts first; then be grateful for them, we can begin to appreciate how those experiences shaped our adult selves… without that damn existential dread setting in.

Courtesy of Imgur.com

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…
24. That you can’t change the length of your legs, the width of your hips, or the nature of your parents.

Actress and model Portia de Rossi provides this week’s perspective on something all women should know — hopefully well before 30. It’s primarily about body acceptance, given de Rossi’s personal experience with body image, an eating disorder and being scrutinized endlessly about what she “should fix.”

While I’m positive every single human being has poked and prodded themselves, finding flaws and wishing they looked different, I agree that women in particular are taught at a young age how they “should look.”

The best example I can recall is from Tina Fey’s Bossypants: “Now every girl is expected to have Caucasian blue eyes, full Spanish lips, a classic button nose, hairless Asian skin with a California tan, a Jamaican dance hall ass, long Swedish legs, small Japanese feet, the abs of a lesbian gym owner, the hips of a nine-year-old boy, the arms of Michelle Obama, and doll tits. The person closest to actually achieving this look is Kim Kardashian, who, as we know, was made by Russian scientists to sabotage our athletes.”

The beauty standard is, obviously, impossible. Even if you possess one or more of these “ideal” features, you can’t possibly have them all without some extreme alterations. And isn’t perfection boring? If we all looked the same, what on earth would we read about in women’s magazines? 😉

In all seriousness, I’m grateful to have had parents who didn’t define my self-worth on my appearance. Maybe it’s because they knew it’d be hopeless for a fair-skinned, freckled, chubby, redheaded, clumsy, big-chested, four-eyed, brace-faced adolescent to find much to adore in the mirror. (At least I had the blue eyes going for me, hidden behind those glasses.)

Instead, they focused on work ethic, affirmations and kindness… although that last one took awhile, as I figured if I could bully others, they wouldn’t bully me.

Courtesy of FB

The flip side of all of that positive parenting is that I haven’t always embraced what’s in the mirror. I have friends who can’t pass a mirror without stopping and “fixing” something, but I’ve also envied at times how comfortable they are staring themselves in the face.

So the past few years, I’ve been working on a balance of both: I smile at my reflection and might have some negative thoughts, but I’ll push those away to focus on what I love.

The nose I hated for years and years has a “sparkle” (my niece’s wording) and calls attention to how similar it is to my mom’s and brother’s.

The freckles i loathed provide texture and stories of sun-filled days I’m fortunate to enjoy.

The stomach I still don’t love shows I’m not shy about embracing different cuisines — and carbs— and no workout regimen can hide it.

I spend my energy focusing on a balance of nutrition and physical activity, indulging when I want and not beating myself up too much when I go overboard. I’d rather just live and accept my features, rather than worry about what magazines and pop culture tell me are flaws. The skin I’m in is mine alone — and I wouldn’t change it, even if I could.

Courtesy of FB

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…
23. Where to go—be it your best friend’s kitchen table or a yoga mat—when your soul needs soothing.

Something I’ve noticed many of these List items have in common is self-awareness. After nearly three decades of life, after all, you’ve likely learned a lot about yourself: what you like, loathe, want, need, crave, and so on.

Something I’ve struggled with, though, is asking for help. Or even admitting I need help. I’ve fumbled through school assignments, rarely daring to wave the white flag and request another’s perspective. I’ve drowned in work assignments, only to learn how much asking for help would have benefited me (and my sanity). I’ve considered independence a surefire sign of maturity and looked down my nose at those who allowed themselves to be vulnerable or lean on others for anything.

I spent so much time flailing solo, I didn’t learn how to fly with support.

And then I moved to a new city.
And my dad died.
And I moved to another city.
And I got dumped.

And through all of those experiences, I couldn’t possibly fight the icky feelings off on my own. I couldn’t cope with my tried-and-true combo of sad playlists and movies, sponsored by comfort food. I couldn’t shut myself away and refuse to face my fears.

I needed help.

I had to admit I didn’t know it all, nor could I handle it all by myself. I had to be OK with not knowing the perfect solution right away, and instead try different approaches until I found one. I had to accept (gasp!) that I’m not always right.

Courtesy of OdysseyOnline.com

Now, I know where to go when my soul needs soothing.

If I had a tough day at work, I call a friend.
If I need unequivocal love, I FaceTime my nieces.
If I just got dumped, I go to a friend’s… and then to a bar.
If I need to zone out, I meditate.
If I want to feel good, I go to the gym or read a book.
If I need fresh air, I take a walk outside.
If I want to laugh, I watch baby videos.
If I want to cry, I watch puppy videos.
If it’s Friday at 230pm, I see my therapist.
If it’s Friday at 330pm, I call my mom. 😉

Sure, I still have my sad soundtracks and shows, and comfort food on deck as needed. But I’ve learned how to be vulnerable and open and allow people other than Papa John’s and Mark West to console me.

It’s a work in progress, but I’ve even had new friends and co-workers comment on how open I am. Gone are the days of closing myself off from others, for fear of judgment and persecution.

Getting closer to 30 has given me a lot more confidence to be unapologetic for my range of emotions. We’re all human, and if we can allow ourselves to show more compassion, humility, humanity… I think we’d all be a bit more forgiving of ourselves and each other.

Courtesy of Viralscape.com

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…
22. How to live alone, even if you don’t like to.

If you don’t believe in coincidences, you should skip on down to the next paragraph. When I discovered this week’s must-know, I couldn’t believe it. After living alone for 3.5 years (plus a couple more back in Florida), I moved in with housemates. Yesterday.

So, it’s safe to say I know how to live alone… I’ve enjoyed countless perks as queen of the castle, from controlling the remote to planning the menu. I’ve relished in solitude after a particularly challenging day or week, cozying up on the couch with a book or Netflix or whatever the hell I want because I’m the only one with an opinion. I’ve learned how to do plenty of things on my own, then thrown money at the problem for the stuff I don’t wanna do (see: DIY, deep cleaning).

There are downsides to living alone, though, and I started taking a harder look at those about six months ago. It could feel quite lonely, particularly after a breakup or on holidays when close friends were out of town, and I didn’t feel like I could force myself into other celebrations. My interior design indecision crippled me to the point that no housemate would ever put up with, or let slide. I was obsessed with my apartment, but often found myself “trekking” around San Francisco to friends’ places, instead of forcing myself to play hostess. And, the final straw: I did what you’re not supposed to and calculated how much I’d spent on rent — in SF alone.

My family and friends joke that New York wasn’t expensive enough, so I had to up the ante and move to the worst rental market in the US. And while I accepted it long ago, I wasn’t properly prioritizing my cash flow. Even with an OK salary, I don’t make “engineering money.” I didn’t found a startup or get acquired by Google or strike it rich from family finances. I, like millions of others my age, work hard and am paid a decent wage, but have no possible way of owning — especially in the Bay Area — without making some sacrifices. And even if I did rake in millions, spending thousands per month on rent with nothing to show for it isn’t so smart.

So, the opportunity came for me to move into a home with some friends. We discussed our lifestyle preferences, our pet peeves, etc., which is something I hadn’t really done in past roommate situations. Maybe it’s because we’re not 22 and pretending like living with friends is 100% amazing all of the time, but that conversation gave me more confidence in making my decision.

Courtesy of Me

I also came around to the notion of living with others as I near 30. This was probably the hardest hurdle for me to overcome, but I’ve convinced myself it’s not a sign of failure — again, particularly in SF — but rather a sign of financial security. The beaucoup bucks I’ll save in rent alone (not to mention other bills) will afford me the ability to become completely debt-free in about 18 months. See ya never, student loans. The likelihood of homeownership is at least a possibility now, since I won’t be squandering away so much in rent. I shudder to think how much I’ve spent as a renter since 2005, but at least I’m finally doing something about it.

Lastly, I had to change the lens through which I viewed this change: I had to focus on what I’m gaining, rather than what I’m losing. I’ll be saving a lot of money each month; I’ll be exploring a new neighborhood; I’ll be learning about my friends and their expanded social circles; I’ll have a shorter commute to both the gym and office; and yes, I’ll be forced to put on pants sometimes.

So while I do feel I’ve mastered the art of living alone, I don’t regret my decision to live with others for the time being. As Pamela Redmond Satran, creator of The List and this week’s featured writer says, “Living alone [meant] pleasing nobody, not even for one second, but myself.” Taking that knowledge into living with others again is a valuable lesson I won’t soon forget.

Courtesy of CollegeHumor.com

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…
21. The names of the Secretary of State, your great-grandmothers, and the best tailor in town.

Finally — an easy task (for the most part)!

This week’s “reading” was simply a fill-in-the blank exercise to identify these prominent people.

  • The Secretary of State: Rex Tillerson
  • Your great-grandmothers: Lillian, Wanda, Marie and Edith
  • The best tailor in town: TBD

I could leave it at that, but you know that’s not my style. Here’s a little more about my perspectives on each of these people.

Image Courtesy of iEmoji

Secretary of State
From his multi-millions as (now former) Exxon CEO to his close ties with Russia, Rex Tillerson’s name has been on a lot of lips since his nomination and confirmation in early 2017. I don’t know how you couldn’t know his name at this point.

But, I didn’t know a whole lot about his background beyond Forbes profiles and mass-media blunders, so I figured I’d study up. Despite opposing many of his political positions, I was pleased to discover his extensive involvement in the Boy Scouts of America — he even served for a few years as its national president, which is its highest non-executive position.

Being a Boy Scout does not inherently make you a good person, but I was grateful to find some common ground with the guy. It’s too early in his service, in my opinion, to judge him outright and I hope to hear of positive policy work and relationships formed in his future. Call me an optimist, but I’d rather that than stew over every single pick in this administration.

Your great-grandmothers
Half of this section was easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy. We were always very close with my maternal side of the family tree, and I knew those names without hesitation.

My mom’s maternal grandmother, Lillian, was alive for the first few years of my life. I remember giggling over our July birthdays, her affinity for baking and how much she adored being the matriarch of an extensive clan. I’ve always loved her name, and when the time came for Brother and SIL to name their second daughter, I suggested Lillian in her honor. Plus, it’s one of the most fun names to say, a la “Rugrats” dynamic duo, “Phil-lip” and “Lil-li-an.”

My mom’s paternal grandmother, Wanda, died long before I was born. From the stories I’ve heard over the years, she was a vivacious woman with a zest for life and a helluva lot of patience — six kids will surely do that to you! Her only daughter, my Great Aunt Mary, tells the best stories about Wanda and the whole family; her voice carries through the phone with incomparable charm and wit.

My dad’s side of the family tree was a bit more distant from my upbringing. Part of it was geography, but I relied heavily on my dad’s Aunt Merlyn for genealogy stories when I was a kid. She died last year, and with that went one of our last remaining links to my dad’s side.

Through the help of my mom, though, I was able to learn the names of my paternal great-grandmothers.

My dad’s maternal grandmother was Marie. My mom tells me she was a seamstress by trade and spoke very little English. She was a strong Sicilian — and don’t you dare call her an Italian! (This, by the way, sounds exactly like the type of woman to raise my Grandma Helen.)

My dad’s paternal grandmother was Edith. About the only memory I have is from visiting her and my great-grandfather’s gravesite when I was about nine years old. Ever the strong, silent type, my dad didn’t talk a lot about his grandparents around me — although that could have been a side effect of his memory loss after the stroke.

I only met one of my great-grandmothers, so it’s no surprise I’m filled with envy and emotion when I see friends post photos with generations of strong women. I may not be able to rival Great Aunt Merlyn’s knack for genealogy, but I can sure as hell appreciate the women who influenced my upbringing in their own way.

The best tailor in town
Finally, a real stumper. I am not the fashionista I once was — or at least, once thought I was.

I rarely buy new clothes, and when I do, it’s usually athleisure. The clothes in my closet that aren’t athleisure generally fit well… until they don’t, and then they’re donated.

The last item I had tailored was a bridesmaid dress I wore once and haven’t seen since I loaned it to my HS bestie (no rush on returning it, Jen 😉 ). But, I wouldn’t recommend the tailor anyway because of the pricing; though they did manage to get it done quite quickly.

I’ve seen enough episodes of “What Not to Wear” to know how invaluable well-fitting clothes can be. Pieces tailored to your body (obviously) fit better, which makes you feel better, and then the world is sunshine and rainbows. I’m being a jerk, of course, because I haven’t invested in pursuing a tailor.

So that’s my task in the next few weeks… as I prepare to donate ~10 bags of clothing, in fact. If you have recommendations for tailors in the SF area, please do let me know! I trust Yelp for many things, but a personal suggestion in this arena is always best.