[Who cares about] Before 30 lists

When you’re in your late twenties, sometimes it kind of feels like you’re on a very fast rollercoaster – you’re white-knuckled, screaming, and on a terrifying free-fall towards thirty.

At this time, you’re bombarded with lists – the before-thirty bucket list, thirty things every woman should know/own/do before she turns thirty, etc. etc. Which only makes the fall seem that much faster and more terrifying. (There was even a list out there of thirty places you should “do it” before you turn thirty, which inexplicably included the zoo, a public bus, and Radio City Music Hall. I can’t even…)

I recently came across this article: “30 Epic Places You Absolutely Must Visit Before You’re 30.” The list includes places such as Bhutan, Namibia, the Egyptian Pyramids, Antarctica, and the XS Nightclub in Las Vegas (…?).

Got that, everyone? You absolutely must visit Antarctica before you turn thirty. Otherwise don’t even bother.

Heaven forbid you leave one stone unturned, one lesson unlearned, one skill unmastered, before the clock strikes thirty and you turn into a big ol’ washed-up hag pumpkin.

It’s okay if you’re still workin’ on your night cheese!

Who cares if you haven’t traveled the entire world by age 29? Little known fact – they still stamp your passport if you’re 32.

Who cares if you’re not where you thought you’d be in your career, or if you’re starting a new one entirely? Guess what – you have a good 30 or 40 more years to work that out.

Who cares if you’re not married yet, or not quite ready to have kids? Maybe you thought you’d have a ring on your finger and a cute baby bump at 28; I did too. But if that’s not what life had in store for you, if you’re still searching, if you have your first sweet little baby at 36 instead of 26 – well, you’ll still be just as happy about it then.

Who cares if your skirt’s sometimes wrinkled and you know nothing about wine pairings and you sometimes leave dishes in the sink and burn yourself with the curling iron and eat cheese and crackers for dinner?

It’s not that I don’t think you should be intentional with your life, make goals, and strive for improvement. But thirty’s not a deadline.

Contrary to what these lists suggest, you don’t have to be done. You don’t suddenly have to be the Perfect Version of You. You can still make mistakes and have doubts. You can still feel like a hot mess from time to time. You can still have dreams and plans you’ve yet to achieve.

I think many of us, especially women, are waiting for this one magical moment where we feel like a Very Serious Adult who Has It All Together. Where we’re always poised and confident and effortlessly chic. Friends…I don’t think that day is coming. I actually sort of believe there may be women like that out there, but in the same way I believe there may be aliens out there.

You don’t have to be that woman to turn thirty. You can just be you.

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9 thoughts on “[Who cares about] Before 30 lists

  1. Bravo!!! Thirty is not a deadline, indeed! As you know from my blog, I abhor “Under 30” lists – which, oddly, I was recently taken to task about by a commenter… – but I have overlooked the “before 30” lists. Those are just as pernicious, if not more so. Turning 30 was the most freeing thing to happen to me so far. Finally I could just live and not worry about “making the most of my twenties.” BLECH!

    (And here’s a secret: you’ll probably be happier with the “cute” [nauseating] baby bump in the 30s anyway – more time to travel and meet people and just BE before having kids which, in many real ways, IS a deadline in itself…a quashing of adventure – at least for 15 years or so! But a different, and largely fulfilling, adventure all it’s own, I am contractually obligated as a mother to say! 🙂 )

    • Love this comment, thank you! I don’t know why we as a society picked this arbitrary deadline by which you’re supposed to have done x, y and z, but it just doesn’t make sense. And I agree that waiting to have kids will probably work out for the best (and I don’t think I am destined for a “cute” pregnancy anyway, regardless of age!). And for the record, I obviously agree with your take on under 30 lists!

  2. Love this! As an almost-30-year-old, I find these lists absurd. First of all, who knows if we have until 30? or 60? or whatever age the latest list is for? And who deems things/places that must be seen by a certain age? These lists completely take away from the purpose of living life in the moment and enjoying it. Thanks for a great post!

    • Thank you! You’re right, these ideas of what should be owned/known/done by a certain age are so subjective and arbitrary. Yes, you should be a functioning adult who can take of yourself – no, you don’t need to have been to a certain continent or dress a certain way or have a “signature cocktail” (seriously one of the things I’ve seen on these lists). I just don’t get the implication that you can’t travel, have fun, have adventure and grow as a person after a certain age. If anything, at an older age we may a) have the means to do more of those things and b) have the perspective to truly appreciate them.

  3. AGREED! I hate every list about things you should do, who you should be by 30. I went on a binge for like a week where I read too much Thought Catalog and it was exhausting. I literally avoid every article about that stuff now! To quote mah man Drake, I’m just doin me.

    Also.. I love Liz Lemon. A friend once compared me to her and I’m still not sure how to take it. haha

    • Haha, yes I think avoiding it all is the way to go! They are always comprised of either a) things you should really do/know just to be a human being, not to be thirty (i.e. writing thank you notes…shouldn’t that be on like a “before you turn 8” list?), or b) totally arbitrary things someone came up with that have no bearing on anything.

      Yes…I relate to Liz in far too many ways. Miss her.

  4. Pingback: [Who cares about] Before 30 lists | Now That I Am in My Thirties

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