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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…
17. How you feel about having kids.

They sure aren’t making the second half of The List easy, huh? No softballs in sight, where I can say “Well, of course I know that!”

Stylist and entrepreneur Rachel Zoe writes this week’s reflection, providing her perspective as someone who became a first-time mom at age 38. She and her husband, Rodger, had been together for 20 years — always knowing they wanted kids, but never necessarily slowing down to do anything about it.

She was, admittedly, quite lucky to become pregnant on their first try. And despite having such luck, Zoe urges women who know they want to have kids: “Don’t wait! I missed the window of being a young mom, and I’m super envious of my friends who had kids earlier than I did, because they can take their time and choose to have another child (or several!) if they want.”

This is where Zoe lost me a little bit. She’s making two assumptions here — first, that women who know they want children have the means, e.g., the partner and finances, in order to do so. And second, that they’ll be able to have as many children as they desire. While that sounds like a lovely landscape to live in, it just isn’t reality.

Plenty of women wish to have children, but want to be married and have a house before that. Or have prioritized their career, much like Zoe did, and want to be on more secure financial footing before bringing children into the world. Others still have fertility issues, complications and a whole host of other reasons why they’re not able to just close their eyes and wish for a child to appear, no problem.

Courtesy of GloriaBowman.com

Stepping off my proverbial soapbox, I also struggled to make sense of Zoe’s final point. She concludes by saying “there are many paths to motherhood… adopting, finding a surrogate… or being the best aunt ever. The point is that the path is in your hands.”

She’s urged us to not wait, but shouldn’t we be a bit more careful with such life-changing decisions? Perhaps this is the 29-year-old single girl in me shouting, but I don’t take the topic of motherhood lightly. Although I’m someone who takes forever to commit to a rug, I do believe bringing life into the world is not something to be rushed. There are many paths, but that doesn’t mean you have to sprint down any one of them before 30.

I can say with near certainty that my perspective on this would be markedly different if I were a woman who knew her own stance on motherhood. I’m not convinced I want children, but I don’t want biology or anything else keeping me from that option. I’ve thought about what paths I may take in the future, but I’m not rushing toward any of them when I know I’m not ready to be responsible for another life at this stage of my own.

For now, I’ll stick to being the best aunt ever. It’s fulfilling enough without having society shouting in my ear about what I should do. As I don’t have a 20-year partner to mull this over with, I think my current decision is just fine. And if I’m feeling particularly stumped, there’s a wikiHow article for that. Bonus: This blog post by Gloria Bowman eloquently emphasizes the plight of women without children. Please enjoy.

Courtesy of wikiHow.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…
16. How to fall in love without losing yourself.

Author Melissa de la Cruz kicks off the second half of The List, which focuses on what you should know by 30, rather than what you should have.

Once again, we start in the relationship arena. Le sigh.

She tells a fictional, purely hypothetical tale of a young woman named Jess, who is interesting and carries herself with grace and confidence. Who wouldn’t want to be — or be with — Jess?

Unfortunately, Jess falls victim to that head-over-heels love where your life becomes all but consumed with your partner’s interests. Through a string of alliterative aliases, boyfriends range from Baseball Billy to Hipster Harry. I think we can all see where this fairy tale is headed.

With each one, Jess invests herself into the relationships so fully, she loses her identity. She goes from buying World Series tickets to dressing in sci-fi costumes to cutting her hair; and as each relationship ends, she’s left as a shell of the woman she used to be… and without many friends who’ve stuck around.

The point of this fable is, quite obviously, to remain confident in who you are — not change your core values for someone else. Can you like the music a partner introduced you to? Of course. Can you genuinely enjoy sports if you’ve never been into them before? I think so. The point is, rather, to not sacrifice what you already are passionate about for your partner’s interests… especially if you already know you don’t share those interests.

Some of the couples I envy most are those which can enjoy separate passions, and allow each other the space to do so. It’s something I’ve strived for in my own relationships, and have seen varying levels of success.

Courtesy of ExplodingDog.com

“I hate how you’ve changed.”

While I don’t take falling in love lightly, the relationship I found most meaningful grew from a shared love of some things: reading, sarcasm and baseball, for example. We introduced each other to new books and enjoyed watching games together, but we also allowed — nay, expected — one another to have separate passions.

Sure, he introduced me to new music and I showed him new restaurants. But we didn’t spend all of our time together, and there wasn’t any resentment for wanting to have our own “thing.”

I saw markedly more success in that relationship than in the one before it, where I tried to enjoy video games in an effort to spend more time together. Turns out, my love for them remains at about a Mario Kart level.

And while I didn’t resent him for being passionate about something different, I think it was challenging for him to understand how I couldn’t be so excited about this thing he loved. I encouraged him to still participate in game nights and tournaments, because he enjoyed it, but I wasn’t going to sit and watch for hours on end without having the slightest interest.

All this is to say, we each have our own passions… and non-negotiables. For some couples, it works very well to work in the same industry (or at the same company), to have the same hobbies, to share all of the same friends. For others, myself included, it works to have some sense of independence and social circles.

I’m clearly no expert, but I think approach it however it will make you happy — without sacrificing who you are at your core.

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 have…
15. A solid start on a satisfying career, a satisfying relationship, and all those other facets of life that do get better.

Legendary anchor and journalist Katie Couric writes us into our halfway point this week. She begins by telling us she spent her 20s focused on her career, allowing work to take priority over her love life.

Sound familiar?

I don’t know if it’s because women are becoming more vocal, or because we have social platforms to have more public discussion, or because I’m nearing the end of my 20s myself, or some combination of the above… or none of those things at all.

I do know it’s a constant conversation among my circles for women to feel like they must choose one over the other: career or love?

Courtesy of MyStyleProject.com

 

Part of this is, unquestionably, biology. If we meet a partner at 25 and marry by 27, we still have some “good years” left in us to have children. Men, on the other hand, can possess none of Mick Jagger’s millions and have children well into their 70s.

Putting that aside, there’s also an expectation for most, if not all, women: We should want to have children. If we don’t, there must be something wrong with us. Or we just don’t know it yet. Or we haven’t found the right person (because who would ever choose to be a single mother?). As I once heard from a wise mother of two, “Any fool can have a baby.” Yet there’s still this need from society for all women to become mothers.

I’m getting deeper than Couric’s message was, but I felt it a necessary piece of the Career vs. Love debate: So much of this boils down to a woman’s choices and her desire to put herself first.

Courtesy of ClipArtKid.com

As I’ve often discussed on this very blog, and IRL ad nauseam, I’ve put my career ahead of most other things. In my seven-point-five years since undergrad, I’ve sacrificed some friendships, ended some romantic relationships, often worked tirelessly without need of recognition — and as long as I could get to a certain career milestone before 30, it’d all be worth it.

I’ll hit that career milestone on Thursday, as my role in my current company shifts. And you know what? I don’t know yet that it was worth it. Sure, I’m thrilled to hit this arbitrary goal I set so long ago. But I still question my career choices often and wonder where my next years will take me after this hurdle is overcome.

Part of that may be my inability to be completely satisfied. And while I should save that for a therapy session, I do question if accomplishing this career goal means I can finally ease my foot off the go-getter gas a little and refocus on romantic relationships. If I can allow myself to be loved, to be taken care of, to let my walls down and be vulnerable again.

Couric even briefly touches on losing her first husband to cancer, and how “the ability to accept and adapt gracefully to life’s twist and turns is one of the greatest skills you’ll learn.”

I know the ride’s not over yet, but I’m certainly going to buckle up for the journey ahead.

Courtesy of PinkSkySerendipity.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 have…
14. A skin-care regimen, an exercise routine, and a plan for dealing with those few other facets of life that don’t get better after 30.

Actress, model and all-around superwoman Angie Harmon wrote this week’s response to The List, and she addresses the ever-present promise of growing older: how to look good while doing it.

I’ve paraphrased Harmon’s “10 tricks for looking fierce at any age, especially the one you are now” below and added my own commentary (of course):

1. Eat foods that are good for you…
This is plain and simple — the more fresh, natural, unprocessed foods you consume, the more your body will thank you. I finally learned this myself with my recent month-long challenge at removing caffeine, alcohol and added/artificial sugar from my diet. Do I still crave and consume pizza, fried foods and other junk? Of course. But I’m a hell of a lot more cognizant about where all of that is going to end up, even if I sweat myself silly at the gym.

2. Make friends with the elliptical machine…
Speaking of the gym, Harmon glorifies the do-it-all elliptical, of which I’ve been a longtime fan. Now, because I live in SF and boutique classes are much more “in,” I’ve tried my hand at boot camps and barre in recent years. But the good, old-fashioned elliptical certainly torches calories and works multiple muscle groups faster than most classes a gym can offer.

3. Buy swimsuits that fit.
If you’ve seen any episode of “What Not to Wear,” ever, you know fit is the most important component to fashion. You can have beautiful pieces, but if they don’t fit well, they won’t maximize your potential. Similarly, if you’re trying to squeeze into a swimsuit from summers long ago, you’re not doing yourself any favors. Forget about the number on the tag and focus on fit: You won’t regret giving your body the support, coverage, or whatever it needs to feel fabulous!

Courtesy of FLDermDoc.com

4. You need to exfoliate for young-looking skin.
This tried-and-true beauty tip is timeless for a reason: It works. Even with my sensitive skin, exfoliating a few times a week brightens and tightens my face and neck like nothing else can. I invested in a Clarisonic a few years ago (thanks, Macy’s discount!) and rotate through various face washes, depending on my needs. The satisfaction of seeing the crap that comes off your face is just a bonus.

5. Never underestimate the power of a bright lipstick.
I haven’t ever been much of a lipstick, or lipgloss fan, for that matter. Except for a few years of middle school experimentation, I tend to keep my lips bare. But I see Harmon’s point and have never failed to receive compliments the few times I bust out a bold red or pouty pink. PS, if you have a crave-worthy color I should try, let me know!

6. Sun protection is a must, always…
There’s absolutely no arguing this one — sunscreen is a vital component to everyone’s skin regimen. I personally prefer buying moisturizers and foundation with SPF for foolproof normal days, and I add on sweatproof sunblock for days I’m outside more. Even in the overcast climate of SF, there’s no better shield for your skin than slathering on this stuff.

Courtesy of OdysseyOnline.com

7. Let your moisturizer sink in…
Of all the beauty advice I’ve read over the years, I don’t recall coming across this one, but Harmon suggests letting your moisturizer sit for three minutes before moving on to your next step. I’ve tried it for all of one day, so I can’t speak to the results yet, but the quickest of Google searches shows her advice is worth taking.

8. Reconsider your beauty routine…
Just as our bodies change with time, so does our hair and skin texture and color. The curls I wanted so desperately during my stick-straight years have finally come, and the color has changed — often with help from a professional — countless times. These changes require different products, treatments and care… if we learned nothing else from “Legally Blonde,” we should all be aware of our hair (and skin) care needs.

9. Know there’s always going to be something about your body you’re not going to like…
Although our beauty standards have progressed by leaps and bounds, there’s still much work to do in self-love and care. I’ll probably never be 100% satisfied with my stomach, for example, but other women would kill for my chest. We want curly hair until we have it. We want thinner limbs but ignore the strength of our own. It’s cliché for a reason: We want what we don’t have. Accepting what we DO have, however, never gets old. Love the body you’re in. Be grateful for it. Accept the things that make you unique, because you’re perfect just the way you are.

Courtesy of Pinterest

10. There will be times when self-acceptance comes less easily…
As Harmon notes, there are going to be days when you just can’t seem to accept the things that irk you most about your body. And that’s OK, too. Spanx and concealer and baseball hats are all helpful tools in getting through a blah day. You don’t have to suck it up and smile, but it is ideal to know what your go-to is on those days so you’re not stuck falling down a rabbit hole of envying others.

Now, Christina and TLC, play me out!

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.

Courtesy of Pinterest

By 30, you should have…
13. The belief you deserve it.

Reminder: Last week’s task was to have “something ridiculously expensive that you bought for yourself, just because you deserve it.”

So, I jumped the gun a little on this one, as I already spoke last week about learning to accept how deserving I am of something ridiculously expensive.

Taking that concept further, though, I read this week’s mini-essay with fervor. It’s a foreign concept to me… to believe you deserve something and not feel like a selfish prick for it.

But it’s also something that comes very naturally to most of my male peers. That’s not to say they’re selfish pricks at all; but it is to say there’s something innate for most men (in my experience) to believe they’re deserving of a nice life.

Without getting too political, there is — of course — the concern when someone believes they’re deserving to a point of taking without asking.

Rather, what I’m talking about is the ability for many men to go after what they want — a promotion, vacation, once-in-a-lifetime tickets, what have you — and reach out and get it. If it doesn’t pan out, it’s not because they’re not good enough.

The flip side, again from my experience, is that many women question their worth; we stutter and stall because we’re afraid of failure or embarrassment. Our self-worth is in question enough; why give anyone the power to make us feel like even less?

I’ve experienced this myself, particularly when I questioned what the hell I was thinking in moving across the country twice. I remember, specifically, calling my mom on the first night in my barren San Francisco apartment. I cried and asked why she “let me” make the move from Manhattan.

What I had to work through, with lots of help from my mom and other dear loved ones, was that I deserved to take this chance on myself. If I fell flat on my face and decided I didn’t like SF (as I had determined with NYC), that didn’t make me a failure. The only failure would be in not taking the chance.

If I looked back at 40 (or 30!), she reminded me, I’d kick myself if I hadn’t at least tried.

Image Courtesy of Pinterest

Am I successful here? That’s all relative. I’m not a bitcoin billionaire (or a startup septillionaire 😉 ), but I’ve made a life I’m proud of here and continue to take chances on myself often. I try new things, have difficult conversations, publish this blog for goodness sake!, and I’ve come out the other side just fine.

After all, falling on my face is just another of life’s lessons, which surely won’t stop at 30. It only means I took the steps to put myself out there and try to fly. And that’s something I think we all deserve.

Image Courtesy of HerCampus.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 have…
12. Something ridiculously expensive that you bought for yourself, just because you deserve it.

Allow me to begin by saying: I’m not the type who thinks I “deserve” expensive things. I’m a commitment-phobe, a bargain hunter, relatively low maintenance, and I’d rather treat myself to a car service over the course of the month than spend the same amount on a purse or pair of shoes.

That’s not to say I’m frugal — I’ve splurged on travel and gifts for others, often finding more value in experiences than material things. I consider gym classes the best long-term investments money can buy. I’m a big fan of “throwing money at the problem” when it solves everyday inconveniences (hello, Blue Apron and Instacart).

But ask me to spend, say, $300 on a rug I love? Well, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. Until today.

Part of why I bought it was this week’s challenge — yet another timely sign from above that I should just do it.

And the other part of why I bought it was because I do “deserve” it after the morning I had.

I was dogsitting over the long weekend for a good friend, but her flight was delayed last night and she wouldn’t arrive to retrieve her keys until 245am. Knowing I’d signed up for a 715am gym class, we agreed she would call me when she got close to my place and we’d make the key swap.

Easy peasy. So far, so good. All of the clichés.

I got up on time again at 615am, despite struggling to fall back asleep; and I was so proud of myself for getting my clothes, lunch, laptop and all other things in order. I was heading out on schedule, just in time to make the bus!

As I closed the door behind me, I realized a beat too late that I failed to grab my keys along with my two overstuffed bags. I’d locked myself out, for the first time (I think?) in my 12 years of living away from home.

Luckily, my landlord is local and able to meet me tonight to let me back in (before I head back out to my dinner plans, but at least I’ll be free to come and go again).

So, I made it to my first-ever barre class the same morning I had my first-ever lockout. Enter, the west elm Sivas Wool Kilim Rug in Macaroon Pink:

Courtesy of westelm.com

I’ve had my eye on this rug for more than a year… seriously. It’s become a joke with certain friends, who plead with me to either buy the damn thing or stop lusting after it.

I even set an alarm to make sure I grabbed it while it was on sale for Black Friday, only to forget all six years of corporate retail knowledge and miss out on the actual sale — on Cyber Monday. It was sold out, and my dreams died again.

So here we are, three months later, and I finally pulled the trigger to purchase this rug. Because it was on sale. And I had a coupon. And I had a shit morning. But also, because I deserve it.

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 have…
11. A set of screwdrivers, a cordless drill, and a black lace bra.

Happy VD Day, y’all! Or Galentine’s Day, or whatever you call it. In the vein of female empowerment, we had a two-page illustration this week: the left side was a “Don’t,” with a woman’s honey-do list for her future boyfriend to hang pictures, assemble a bookshelf, fix a wobbly chair leg and hang curtains.

On the right page, we see a “Do.” This woman has her tool belt on, is amazed at how much she can do with just a few simple tools and is the modern-day version of Rosie the Riveter.

Image Courtesy of History.com

I see the point of having these tools; I really do. My dad gifted me a tool kit and electric drill set over various Christmases, and he’d be ashamed at how few times I’ve used them myself. But, I’ve put others to work with the kits, so at least that’s something.

My problem, if you recall from six years ago, is that I’m not handy. At all. I was into LEGOs and K’nex as a kid; I eagerly participated in Home Depot workshops to build birdhouses and jewelry boxes. I beamed with pride watching my dad and uncle install tile flooring throughout our house. But somewhere along the way, I became a construction malfunction.

I’d much rather throw money at the problem, hiring a professional or coercing trusted friends into helping me. I’ll supply some tools and the beer, and you do the dirty work. The best part is, you can’t really screw it up. Anything is better than my attempts at handiwork.

It could be that I’m a decorating commitment-phobe. It could be that I don’t like failing. Or it could be that I don’t trust myself to be mediocre at something and that being enough. Whatever it is, I know I have to work on this skill, in particular, unless I want to sink my savings into hired help or beer-mergencies. I’ll keep you posted as always, and you let me know if you have any tips for DIY beginners.

Oh, and as for the black lace bra — I’ve had that covered (literally) for years. If nothing else, there’s no item of clothing that empowers a woman more than hiding that beneath a work apron or tool belt.

Image Courtesy of YourStory.com