I am turning 30 this month. I don't really know what else to say about that, except that I am way more excited about it than I ever knew I would be. Since it feels so big and important, I asked friends of mine who have survived their thirtieth year to give me one piece of advice that they felt would be of value when I hit the big milestone.
I was given a lot of great advice, mostly because I have a lot of great friends. While I was reading through these emails, I was surprised at how consistent the counsel was. A version of the same seven pieces of advice was constant.
The responses below are from ex-boyfriends, mentors, BFF's, extended family members and friends from all over the world. Some are in their thirties, some forties, some fifties. Some are married, some single, some straight and some gay. I end the article with the advice my parents sent to me.
Don't Stress About It:
This was by far the most consistent suggestion, as you'll see below through the words shared with me.
"My advice to you is don't stress. Don't try to figure things out because of an arbitrary number. Your thirties will be wonderful. This is the time when you're more comfortable in your skin, and when you gain a true appreciation for the fact that you somehow survived your twenties despite all of the mistakes you may have made."
"My commentary (because I feel as though giving "advice" to a grown-ass woman who is about to be published is a bit pompous) is this: Please do not spend one more second of your precious life giving a shit about what people think."
"Enjoy 30; embrace it and don't try to rush anything. Everything falls into place and due to experience, you're now prepared to appreciate all the good and let go of the bad."
"I thought 30 was going to be this huge deal, as though if when I said goodbye to 29, life was over, and I was "officially old." However, I'm still the same old G. I actually forget that I am 31 more often than not. Thirty is definitely the new 20 as far as life experiences go (without that drunken college phase)."
"For me, 30 marked the moment in my life when I gave myself permission to really and truly not give a shit what people thought about me, my romantic choices, how I chose to make my money and most of all how I spent my time and with whom."
"I took the weekend to thoughtfully consider what advice I would give to you as you approach 30, and I keep returning to something you actually taught me. You shared with me a few months ago a mantra you had learned from your mom; "Life is Hard." Hearing that was kind of a removal of my rose-colored glasses. I've made plans since you told me that, and many of them are coming to fruition. So, instead of just expecting good things to happen, I'd say, "Life is hard. Deal with it," is the best advice I wish I had known before 30."
"What I learned at 30 was simply to recognize that the voice inside my head is not always my own. Sometimes that voice is my mom's, or my sister's, or my ex's or society's. And often it does not really know ME at all. So, I realized that I don't have to listen to those voices. I only need to listen to the one voice that I know clearly is mine: the forgiving, loving, creative, generous, nurturing voice that only wants what is best for me. She's lovely. I encourage you to do the same."
"Leading up to my 30th birthday, people kept asking me how I was feeling. My response was always "Great!" or "I'm excited" or "It's not that big a deal"... it didn't seem like it was anything big and I wasn't feeling any great sense of emotion or dread. My husband threw me a surprise birthday party that year. It was amazing! Friends and family from near and far were there to celebrate with me. I could not have asked for a better gathering. I was feeling loved and full of confidence about facing this new chapter called "30." Imagine my surprise when on my actual birthday, I had a major meltdown. I'm talking shoulders heaving, snot running, red-rimmed eyes for the whole day kind of a meltdown. This came out of nowhere and took me completely unaware. It shocked the hell out of me. Was I unintentionally overwhelmed by entering my third decade? Perhaps. But the point is that life moved on, I survived turning 30, and things are pretty damn great."
Take Care of Your Skin:
"Enjoy the wrinkles you do not have. Then enjoy the ones that you get. But Botox the really shitty ones."
"Clarisonic scrub your face every morning and night."
"You MUST start using all of those anti-aging products, getting facials, etc. now.... before you actually need it. Moisturize, Moisturize, Moisturize."
"I would say that if you haven't already, start saving money to buy the pricy facial products at Sephora. The drugstore brands will not cut it anymore. You will start to panic, as you will noticeably see more deep wrinkles, the dark circles under your eyes appear darker, skin discoloration from the sun and just loose, droopy skin."
"Abby, I read your email, and in knowing you, took some time to think about your request. My advice for you is to do what makes you happy. People are going to love you and people are going to hate you. The people that hate you are not worth a second of your time, and you can't let them be. The people that love you are worth all of your time, and you must let them be."
"Giving advice to the most courageous woman I know is not easy. Sweet girl, you have taken chances before reaching this milestone that many people are too fearful to take at 30 and beyond. So, my advice to you is to continue to take chances. If there are dreams you've not fulfilled yet, now is your time. Keep your heart open to love. Keep your heart open to life. Keep your heart open to dreams."
"I don't think that you know how infectious your laugh is. As you turn 30, 31, 35, 86, 92 and 107, please don't stop laughing."
"At 30 I grew a pair and felt empowered to speak up, strike out and most importantly, be humble and authentic in the same breath."
Stop dating assholes:
"Spend zero time and heartache on boys who are not worthy of your time, because they are, well, not worthy of your time."
"My number one piece of advice as I reflect on my 20's is in regard to dating.
If he wants to see you, he will do anything in his power to see you. His phone works, he got the text, his fingers are still text-worthy even though he's out of town, he's not that busy right now at work, you don't need to remind him about anything and he, mostly likely, did not die. If he wants to, he will... and if he doesn't -- his judgment is just fucking BAD."
Be kind to others:
"Practice empathy. There are always going to be days where someone pisses you off, does something stupid, says something inappropriate, etc. Instead of immediately judging, remember to recognize that you have no idea what they are going through in their life or what may have happened to them earlier in the day. It seems like an obvious one, but sometimes it's a struggle. Never lose sight of the fact that we are very fortunate."
"Though you may not have daily interactions with those you admire and appreciate, don't ever dismiss the opportunity to tell them what they mean to you. Don't let life get in the way. Seize every opportunity to tell those you love, that you love them. Speak positivity to them. Show them, in word and deed, that they are a force in your life. And let them know you're grateful for them. You'll not only bless them with this gift, but you'll also be blessed in return."
"I want to share with you a quote from a good friend, which I love... 'Never regret anything because at one time it was exactly what you wanted.'"
"Return calls and texts, and pen thank-you notes."
"You don't owe anyone anything except honesty, kindness, politeness and promptness."
"I thought things were looking pretty bleak after a divorce at 27 and being unmarried at 30. If someone had told me that by 40 I'd have almost a decade of marriage under my belt and three kids that are not only out of diapers, but can read, spell, ride bikes, swim, go on roller coasters and tell me witty things that are actually legitimately funny, I'd have said, "no way, not in 10 short years." This decade is the decade where life comes together, whatever your "together" means for you. It's long enough for giant changes to occur. But watch out because it flies by. Enjoy it."
"The years you're facing will pick up speed. You'll be caught up in the whirlwind of life and it'll be easy to forget those who've helped mold you into the amazing woman you are... and will be. Remember to stop and be thankful. And, remember to say it again and again."
Make it Count:
"Live your gorgeous life, embrace a positive attitude, CRY, continue to laugh A LOT, enjoy sex, drink champagne, wear clothes and accessories that make you feel like Beyoncé or a hungover supermodel."
Now, the advice that my parents shared. Which, if I've learned anything as I approach thirty it's to always listen to their advice. Why in the hell it took this long to know that, I have no idea.
Advice from my dad:
My advice to you.
To give advice about an age or a day in time is difficult, since everyone and everyday is different. Regardless of your age, please remember the following:
1. Take care of your health. You are not invincible and when your body starts to break down, it sucks. It can make you feel so helpless and frustrated.
2. Your family is your foundation. Treasure them, respect them, absorb as much of them as possible. My life and all of its blessings are the result of my family. First, my mom and dad gave me the opportunity to succeed while protecting me from myself. I wish I had invested more in them so that now that they are gone, I would have more to call upon. Next, my wife (your mom) is where all things good are centered. She is my friend, confidante, adviser, conscious and soul every day of my life now and forever more. She is the reason I have you and your brother. My children are my lifelong joys that make me smile, laugh, find a purpose when I doubt myself and are my reassurance that I am good, now, and when I am gone. Finally, I am finding my extended family to be increasingly important. They remind me of all that was good in my past. Friends are important, but family is forever.
3. Have faith in a greater good that you can believe in and that will believe in you. Being filled with positive words, encouragement, and inspiration gives me energy every day. This is particularly important when you feel alone or attacked. I cannot imagine life without my faith.
Overall, Abby, I am learning now to surround myself with good. You do not need to cure other people's problems or fight their battles or cure their shortcomings. You do not need to accept these negative influences. You can say, "no, thank you" and move on. This is not to say that life will not challenge you and you should walk away. These challenges area a part of life that will help you grow and be better when put in the proper perspective and balance.
I find myself listening to Sting and waxing philosophical more and more, and it feels good. Thank you for giving me this chance to share with you.
I love you. I am proud of you.
Advice from my Mom:
"It is hard not to reflect on my own "30" when giving advice to you. I have journaled most of my life, but in my late 20's and early 30's I went dark. Life got busy and I was a bit overwhelmed. I wish you had been an adult at that time to give ME advice. You are the epitome of what young adulthood should be. You are creative and bold and brave. So here is my advice: Continue. Continue to explore, to create, and to stretch. Continue to FaceTime your mother. Continue to make time for your extended family even when you're famous. Continue to appreciate the gift of another beautiful year. I love you my wonderful, exceptional girl."
I think the one thing that I was reminded of in reading all of these is how unbelievably fucking lucky I am. Each and every email ended with some form of "I love you," (yes, even from my exes) and "you are important to me." So my advice to myself is that no matter what happens, or where life takes me, continue to be good to those who are good to me. Remember where I came from and appreciate how willing my loved ones are to love, support and encourage me every single day.