[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.

I don’t know about you, but I’m [SO NOT] feeling 22

I haven’t slept through the night in about two weeks. Saturday night, for example, I slept from midnight until 3:20 a.m. By 5:54 a.m. I was making muffins. By 6:45 a.m. I was in the fetal position under an afghan watching Everybody Loves Raymond.

So I apologize in advance if this post is unreadable, because my mental faculties have severely declined. Like yesterday at the gas station, halfway through filling my tank, I realized I had chosen – not regular, not super – premium unleaded. Then very nearly cried about it.

It’s been a fun couple weeks! (I have a feeling the culprit is a big stressful change about to occur in my life, but that’s not what I want to get into — let’s keep it nice and frivolous today.)

Aside from having a hard time accomplishing basic tasks, the biggest side effect of lack of sleep has been this: I look awful. I once blogged about the many situations where I physically cannot look pretty – this needs to be added to that list.

Once upon a time, in my early twenties, I could stay up til four, consume many margaritas, and wake up the next day all bright-eyed and rosy-cheeked. Sure, my hair may have been tousled and my eyeliner smudged, but in a cute way – not in a horror movie way which is what I’m working with now.

I literally looked in the mirror yesterday and thought, “Well, this is it. I’ve lost my looks. It’s all downhill from here.” And then I tried – very slowly – to reason with my sleep-deprived mind. That doesn’t make sense, I told myself. You’re still only in your twenties. It can’t all be over. There must be an explanation for why you currently look like Kristen Stewart’s much older and even more miserable aunt.

And then it dawned on me: oh yeah, because you haven’t slept in days.

When I was 20, there was a period of months where I routinely went to sleep at 2 a.m., then hopped out of bed at 6:30, showered, did my makeup, straightened my hair, and went to work looking fresh. Sure my energy would dip in the afternoon, but it was nothing a quick brownie break couldn’t handle (which, of course, I could consume daily without gaining weight – because I was 20).

But friends, that’s all over now. Now, lack of sleep turns me into a shell of a human – and an unsightly one at that.

But, hey. To quote The Mindy Project: “You’re not 22, so what? No one is.”

And if you are 22…enjoy it. Soon you too will need a solid eight hours…and a really good moisturizer.