Monday I turn 32. To me this means I’m wholly and really in my 30’s, no longer a new graduate out of the tumultuous 20’s. Next stop is 40, then after that I can only assume is death.
Just teasing. I actually like being in my 30’s, and have become quite the pro at 30ing. My favorite evenings include a bubble bath, glass of wine, and a riveting book. I get annoyed when I wind up at loud bars where drunk 25-year-olds behave like teething infants. I injure myself sleeping, have no patience for uninteresting people, and enjoy naps.
Pretty sure that last sentence makes me a cat, but maybe that’s something we should all come to terms with — 30-year-olds are really just giant house cats.
Well sometimes us house cats have birthdays, which does inadvertently throw us off our game a bit. If you or someone you know will soon be enduring a 30-something birthday, I offer this guide for handling it like the power suit you are.
Rule #1: Have an Existential Crisis
If you aren’t having routine existential crises in your 30’s, there’s something wrong with you. We’re at that age where it is expected we’ve done something with ourselves. In your 20’s you have a hall pass, given that you might be in school, just starting your career, or whatever. But in your 30’s…society wants proof you haven’t totally pissed away your life up until now.
If you don’t have these as often as I do (bi-monthly), don’t worry. When your birthday comes around you will most certainly have an existential crisis. Here are some fun little nuggets to get the ball rolling: Are you in the right career? Are you investing enough in retirement? Are you dating the right person? Are you dating enough? Or if you’re married, did you marry the right person?
Are you fulfilling your true purpose as a unique and special snowflake?
This is an opportunity for you to get creative here. Feel free to press full-throttle on this one, the options for questioning your very existence are endless.
Rule #2: Take the Day Off Work
You don’t have time to worry about work right now. You are about to commemorate the day the world got its greatest gift, YOU. Go l-i-v-i-n. It amazes me that people go to work on their birthdays, it’s a national holiday for fuck’s sake! Jesus takes the day off on his birthday and distracts us with a fat man who gives us presents and cookies so we won’t notice he’s napping. Don’t you want to do what Jesus does? Didn’t you wear a WWJD bracelet in the 90’s?!
Rule #3: Treat Yo Self
Buy shit. Not what you need, not what you should have, what you want. This is the time to empty that Amazon or Nordstrom shopping cart by BUYING IT ALL. This is also when you upgrade some of the crap lying around you keep putting up with. Maybe your kitchen knives are as dull as your aunt, making you loathe cutting even the softest of vegetables. Well waddle yourself down to your local Williams-Sonoma and treat yo self to a fancy new Wüsthof set.
If you’d like some inspiration, for my birthday this year I bought myself a delightful little tea kettle (it whistles!) and a new Stephen King book*. See, told you I’m good at 30ing.
I’ll also go shopping on Saturday and get a new outfit because I’m in my 30’s, which means I’m not poor, and I CAN.
*Okay, it’s his book On Writing, because I still haven’t gotten over It or The Shining yet to pick up any of his terrifying novels any time soon. I realize that makes me a giant fluffy chicken but, well, suck it.
Rule #4: Watch a Video with Screaming Goats
Few things can consistently make me laugh as much as screaming goats, and if you still have a pulse that means they will make you laugh too. Just google screaming goats and you’ll find yourself a whole mess of gold.
Rule #5: Go Do Something You Love Alone
Do you love hiking? Climb that mountain by yourself. Like the movies? Get a ticket for one and don’t share that candy with nobody. Are you a food connoisseur (I hate the term foodie, it’s just as stupid as selfie)? Go to a nice restaurant, get a table for one, and order whatever you want.
Once you’re there, soak deeply into your me-time. Listen to the voices in your head, the ones you are constantly tuning out with work, friends, busyness and stress. There’s something uniquely freeing about doing activities seemingly reserved for grouped outings on your own. You are secure enough in your own skin at this age, you don’t need a gaggle of pals swarming around you everywhere you sit down. Take the time to realize you really are okay alone.
Rule #6: Look Back Exactly 10 years Ago to See How Far You’ve Come
It’s pretty incredible to think that 10 years ago you were a full fledged adult. You had already accomplished so much! You moved out of your parents’ house, maybe went to college, held down a job?! Damn! Look through old photos and remember what it felt like. What were your goals? What were you trying to do? Ruminate on it for a while, maybe an hour or two, or even make an evening of it.
Then when you come up out of it, look at your life now. OMG you have done WAY MORE since then! I can tell you one thing, 10-year-ago me would never ever believe all the things I’ve been through and accomplished by 32. I’m confident you’ll come to the same conclusion.
All that said, birthdays can be hard in your 30’s. I know it is for me sometimes. But the good news is, we’re still super young. PLUS, science is getting better everyday, which means the wrinkle creams that will be out in 20 years are going to be RAD and will WORK.
We have a lot of life to live, and are still growing and learning. As a dear friend said to me recently about how I am in this life, “You’re not a bull in a china closet. You’re…a baby deer in a china closet. You’re still figuring out what to do with your arms and legs yet.”
Here’s to another year, in a decade of still figuring out what to do with these arms and legs.