Tag Archive | turning 30

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

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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…
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…
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…
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

When Mom Was My Age

Courtesy of Family Archives

As you can guess from my 30 Before 30 series, I turn 30 in two months and three days.

When Mom was my age, she was giving birth to me. She also had a three-year-old son, who was with her parents in Daytona during the tumultuous delivery. She’d recently celebrated her seventh wedding anniversary with her college sweetheart. She was a few years into her teaching career, after needing to pivot from a criminal defense role in South Florida.

When Mom was my age, she was juggling being a wife, mom, educator, homeowner, and a million other adjectives I haven’t experienced yet. She was sacrificing some dreams and goals for those achievements, never once blaming or resenting us for the path she pursued.

When Mom was my age, she had no idea how harrowing this birth would be. She had no idea her husband would suffer a stroke in eight years, changing her marriage and parenting plan overnight. She had no idea what we’d become or pursue or achieve; she just did her damnedest to ensure we were brought up with strong morals and guidance.

When Mom was my age, she was on the cusp of 30 — maybe pursuing her own List of sorts before the milestone birthday arrived. She’d likely been to 10 concerts (now guess which one was fake) 😤  She’d experienced a lot, but still had so much more to come.

Although Mother’s Day is two weeks away, I couldn’t let today — the exact age she was when I was born — pass without acknowledging how grateful I am for everything she did for me then and has continued to do ever since. 143 always, Momma.

Courtesy of Family Archives

30 Before 30

Image Courtesy of BrightSoLight on EtsyIn 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. Let’s begin!

By 30, you should have…
1. One old boyfriend you can imagine going back to and one who reminds you of how far you’ve come.

Wow, way to start us off with a doozy. I instantly cringed when I saw this was my FIRST item on The List to “obtain.” My relationship history is bumpy and painful, full of letdowns and lessons. But that’s exactly what this first essay, by Genevieve Field, is about: learning.

Field mentions the Buddhist teaching that “every relationship we have in our lives, whether it lasts five hours with a stranger on a plane or fifty years with our soulmate, is meant to teach us something.”

As painful as it can be to think about love lost, I’m also able to look back and see how much I’ve learned and how far I’ve come…

The man I can imagine going back to is my most recent ex — not because of the recency, but because I truly felt we were a great match with poor timing. Our relationship ended, obviously, and in a not-so-great way. Had he not let me go, though, I don’t think I’d have ever ended it. I was in love and believed he was worth working through our challenges, as resentful as I (didn’t realize I) was growing. We haven’t had any contact in a few months, but I wish him well and hope he’s working through his needs, just as I’ve been working through mine.

The man who reminds me how far I’ve come was not a boyfriend, per se, but a romantic relationship all the same. I’ve never been one to fake interest or depend on others, but I threw all that aside to “be” with him. I let myself be second fiddle to whatever else he had going on; I tried really hard to care about video games; I depended on him to be my social calendar and support system and lost myself in the process. Our few months together were the best — I thought — until I ended it after another dead-end conversation about our future, and 20/20 hindsight helped me see that I didn’t even like myself anymore.

There’s nothing wrong with me, or these two men, for these failed relationships. We’re each on our own journey, and there’s no telling where those roads will lead us. In the meantime, I can be grateful for the lessons I’ve gained from each of them (and that the tears have subsided since each breakup).

Looking back on your relationships, do you have someone you can imagine going back to, and someone who reminds you how far you’ve come? Let me know in the comments!