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!
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 ❤️
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