A few months ago, I stayed the night at a friend's house. I crawled into bed beside my children at 9:00 pm, which makes it safe to say it wasn't anything like sleeping out 10 years ago. I wanted to close my eyes, but the mascara left on my lashes made me restless. The bed was big and comfortable, but I missed my pillow from home. I was never the kind of person who knew what type of pillow I liked, but there I was making silent promises to never leave home without my very own again. I laughed at myself, thinking, This must be 30. Not because I was being dull and boring but because I finally know what the hell I want, even if it’s a super-thin pillow and a face-washing before bed.
Below are 10 things I like about being 30:
1.) I'm comfortable in my body. I used to be insecure about my itty-bitty chest, but now I feel like a freaking ballerina. I rejoice in going bra-less, running without jostling, and easy self-breast exams. I'm finally certain there's nothing I lack.
2.) I kind of know how to cook and clean. I haven't eaten a junior bacon cheeseburger in well over a decade, and although I used to question the effectiveness of sweeping, I now do it with conviction at least three times a day. I even take this weird pleasure in washing the dishes at night.
3.) I feel perfectly acceptable just as I am. I don't need to shave every inch and crevice like a porn star to feel feminine. I try not to let strange hairs on my face grow, but I don't shave my arms like I did for some reason back in high school. A little stubble doesn't embarrass me, and if the stubble gets long enough to braid I still feel like a goddess. (Just kidding, I haven't given up on social norms completely.)
4.) I'm my own friend. I used to be more self-conscious, and wonder what people thought of me. Now I'm not so affected by the opinions of others. I don't need to be liked or understood by everyone, and it's such a relief. I give myself the approval I need, and although insecurity and self-doubt arise from time to time, I recognize them as just that rather than internalize them. My internal dialogue is friendlier and more reassuring than ever.
5.) I know how I feel about things. Back in the day, I used to try to like certain things if everyone else did. For instance, a lot of my friends liked Bush and Stone Temple Pilots. I assumed their music must be good, and that I should like them too, so I bought the albums used and tried. Now I don't try to like or dislike anything, but simply recognize my own feelings with ease. My opinions come from a genuine notion inside, not from the mind or lips of someone else. I now know and trust what I feel, even if it's a mild annoyance toward some 90’s rock.
6.) I speak the truth. I don't pretend to not care where we eat when I really want pho. I don't pretend my baby is sick when the real reason we didn't go to a party is that my husband works a lot and we just wanted to sit home together. When I make mistakes I don't cover them with excuses, but just say sorry. I haven't always been like this, it has come with my fourth decade. Speaking the complete truth in big and small ways hasn't only been good for my soul, but beneficial for my relationships. It's the best way to be understood and feel connected. I no longer care about telling people what they want to hear, fitting in, or lessening a supposed blow. I want to give people the truth, and be accepted for who I really am.
7.) I know who my friends are. There may not be that many but they are highly valued because they have stood the tests of time and distance, and evoke my effort even though I have constant companions in my own home.
8.) I dance. This past May I went to a friend's wedding, and it was the best one I've ever been to. I don't know if it was their party-planning ability, the way the stars aligned, or my sweet dance moves, but I kicked my shoes off and didn't stop moving for a minute. I've never been the kind of person who danced, in fact, I used to get anxious before proms and concerts. But now I don't even consider if I look like a fool, I just do what feels good, and dancing feels good.
9.) I know my gifts and I trust myself to use them. In college I studied education, partly because I love children and school, and partly because I wanted to know what job I'd have when I graduated. Now my direction isn't based solely on what job makes sense, but my passions, which I've finally discovered. I wouldn't have called myself a writer even a couple years ago, but I'm now confident enough to trust my perspective and creative flow, and bold enough to share it.
10.) I worry less. I don't wish for dark times, but I know they offer great opportunities for growth and wisdom. I know the truth in "This too shall pass" because I've seen it happen time and time again. When my husband and I get in a rut, I know we'll get out. When I feel confused, I know clarity will follow.
At 30, I don't only use anti-wrinkle cream, I also question its effectiveness. I know everything on the outside will eventually change, and now identify more with what's inside. In my younger years I turned to the world for direction, reassurance, and answers, but now I turn within. Doing so has made me more confident, at peace, and empowered than ever before. If you ask me, being 30 is pretty cool.