[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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