The best is yet to come
Why your 30s are way better than your 20s.
I spent most of my 20s living in fear of the day I would turn 30. It seemed so goddamn old. 30-year-olds, in my mind, spent their days sipping lukewarm lemon and ginger tea to calm constant indigestion, went out exclusively to Asian-fusion restaurants that were overpriced and possibly culturally-appropriative and had boring conversations about house prices and babies and the stock market. No partying. No casual sex. No fun.
My birthday is in February, so I started my 30th year with that big birthday looming. But, if I’d stopped my doom-obsessing for a hot minute, I would have noticed something.
I was in the best place of my life.
I was seeing this super babe of a guy who was five years younger than me. He thought I was hot shit and I felt like hey, this cougar thing is pretty damn great, actually. I had a killer job at a website I’d put on my bucket list years earlier. I was in the best shape of my life, my hair was finally long after years of trying to grow it (superficial I know but that shit is HARD TO DO), and I was about to go on a huge road trip around the US. I was smack-bang in my prime, I just didn’t know it.
Here’s the thing. We are told our 20s are the decade, right? We’re meant to be young, hot, and energised. It’s the decade of self-discovery and doing dumb shit, supposedly with no consequences. It feels like everyone old in the world is jealous of people in their 20s, so naturally those of us in our 20s want to cling onto these years until our fingernails bleed.
But when you look closely, your 20s kinda suck. They’re not the worst ever – but they can be pretty shit at the best of times. All that self-discovery isn’t easy. The road to figuring out what and who you want is usually paved with plenty of potholes and stupid fuckboys to trip over.
There’s also a lot of posturing, right? Soooo many nights where you’d go out so you didn’t have FOMO the next day, stay out because going home at 11pm seemed pathetic, do complicated sex positions that gave absolutely zero orgasms because you wanted to impress (and didn’t want to lose Never Have I Ever).
It’s not as free-wheeling as we make it out to be. In fact, it’s usually the opposite – a series of heavily-choreographed experiences that we stumble through, riddled with anxiety and insecurity. Sometimes, these experiences ARE as intoxicating and euphoric as we expected them to be. Sometimes, they’re pretty shit.
The best times in your 20s are the ones you didn’t expect to have – that house party you went to as a favour to your friend, that turned into the hottest one-night stand of your life. That person you said yes to dating who you weren’t that keen on, who then became a Big Love. That stupid part-time Uni job where you met your best friend.
All of these experiences have something in common – you didn’t force them into being, they happened when you weren’t paying attention. By the time you reach your 30s, you’re done with the bullshit. You don’t force anything into being because you’re well aware that it just leads to fake fun at best, a shit time at worst.
You find yourself done with the people who don’t text you back, done with the faux friends who never check in, done with staying out when you’d rather be lying with a pizza resting on your boobs, watching Terminator: Salvation for the 500th time.
There is no right way to do your 30s, and you’ll notice that everyone is doing them differently. Me? I’m still partying and being an idiot and, up until recently, was dating and fucking whoever I wanted to and experimenting.
The difference is that now I’m in my 30s, I unashamedly, unapologetically do what I want. Not what I think I’m supposed to want. Not what everyone else tells me I should want. What I want.
It’s not that you can’t be that self-assured in your 20s, it’s more that many of us just aren’t. We’re thrown out of teenagehood into Uni and work and this whole life that isn’t guided by our parents and teachers, and it takes time to figure out who we are in it. That’s why your 20s are so tumultuous, and with those searing highs come crushing lows, too. It’s a LOT. In your 30s, things are a calmer sea – but not in a boring way. It’s like instead of trying to navigate everything in this shitty old dinghy with no paddles, you’ve transitioned onto a proper yacht and get to cruise past heaps of bullshit because you know better now.
So if you’re approaching your 30s, or just crossed over into the dark side (welcome), take a minute and look around. You’ll probably notice that you’re in a pretty good place, and there’s only more of that to come.