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.
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.
A huge thank-you to all who reached out with messages of love and support after last week’s heartbreaking loss. If I learned anything from Michelle, it’s that you can find reasons to smile even in the darkest of days.
- Little Girl Turns Sister into a Zebra: This may be the new “Charlie Bit Me.” Honestly, is there anything cuter than videos of tiny tots with posh accents? 3-year-old Sovereign took a permanent marker to her little sister’s… canvas… to turn her into a zebra. Why, you ask? Because she “loves being zebras.” Duh, mom.
- Response to Talia Jane’s Open Letter to Yelp: The viral open letter to Yelp highlights just how clueless many millennials are. That’s not to say we aren’t all clueless in our 20s, but now we have the world as a social media stage to broadcast major mistakes. Pro tip: Negotiate for a livable salary, don’t sign a lease you can’t afford, don’t be too proud to live or work in less-than-ideal conditions, and don’t go credit card poor before the ink on your diploma dries. This response puts it far more eloquently than I can in a few sentences.
- “American Crime Story: The People vs. OJ Simpson”: This miniseries is already a few episodes in, but you can still catch up! I didn’t expect to be so captivated, but the always-provocative Ryan Murphy has done it again. It’s chilling, gripping and an absolute roller coaster — the all-star ensemble cast will, no doubt, be nominated for every accolade available. Despite it being more than 20 years since the murders, it’ll bring you right back to the heart-stopping Bronco chase and trial in no time at all.
- “7 Years Old” – Lukas Graham: Something about this song haunts and humbles me. Maybe it’s that he covers a 60-year life in less than four minutes. Or it could be how fragile and fleeting life is, which Graham identifies and reflects on beautifully. Whatever the reason, I can’t seem to stop listening to it on loop.
There’s a phenomenon I hadn’t experienced until moving to San Francisco, known as Mercury in retrograde. This three-week period of time is said to wreak havoc on technology, communication and life in general … and it started today. Let’s try to put some balance back in our lives, shall we?
- Skellie @omgliterallydead: This viral Instagram takes all the millennialisms we love to hate and turns them into hilarious, filtered photos. This one’s caption? “Morning Yoga!! #yoga #yogaselfie #betterthancoffee #jk #nothingbeatscoffee #namastae #namastayinbed #om #flexible”
- Mr. Holmes Bakehouse: This SF bakery invented possibly the most delicious dessert craze ever — the cruffin. It’s a hybrid of flaky croissant pastry in the shape of a muffin, and the strawberries ‘n cream cruffin I had this weekend was pure heaven.
- Blue Apron: I don’t really know how to adult, but one of my goals this year is to gain more confidence in the kitchen (I can’t bake brownies for dinner forever). Enter this service, which delivers fresh ingredients and exciting recipes right to my door! I made my first meal with it last night, and I couldn’t be more proud.
- “Try” – Colbie Caillat: I can’t believe I haven’t featured this song yet, since it’s a constant star in my daily playlist. The video is powerful, and Caillat’s message is simple: You don’t have to change who you are, so long as you love yourself.
Today’s WOs will be short and sweet — I have much to prepare for, as you’ll see!:
- YOU Guys: Our family is so thankful for all the love we’ve seen since my dad’s passing. Knowing we have an incredible support system helps us to heal and honor the wonderful life he had. I can’t express my gratitude enough.
- Aunt Amanda Time: My sister-in-law will be induced tomorrow, which means my niece enters the world in less than 24 hours! I’m sure everything will go smoothly, but you can say a quick prayer just in case 🙂
- Frand Is (Almost) Here: Rachel, my life twinsie, arrives tonight for a weeklong visit to NYC with her husband. Her dirty 30th is Saturday … this poor city won’t even see it coming.
- “Hashtags” – Jimmy Fallon & Justin Timberlake: I’m guilty of abusing the hashtag trend from time to time — but only in writing — never when speaking. This now-viral parody of millenials is so entertaining, just as you’d expect from our favorite bromance.