The sad reality is that I turn 30 in a few days.
I never really had a vision for myself at 30, much less at 40 or 50 or 90. I just wanted to be healthy, happy, and employed in a challenging job. Thus far, I have succeeded at 1 out of 3.
A good friend of mine turned 30 one month before I do and I was really impressed by a list she made in her late 20s, which catalogued 30 things to achieve before 30. Around age 28, I thought that I should write one for myself. But somehow I never got around to it, which is probably very indicative of my very nature.
Recently, upon the harsh realization that I could no longer deny that 30 is almost here, I catalogued what it was that I did get around to in my 20s. It turns out that I did okay. And you know what, okay is good enough for now. Here goes:
- Eat a meal alone. I actually now love walking to a bar in a restaurant, ordering a glass of wine, and enjoying a meal on my own. I have business travel and unemployment to thank for this. And guess what — you meet a lot of interesting people this way.
- Go to the movies alone. Again, unemployment really got me out of my shell for going to the movies alone. How else was I supposed to spend a hot Tuesday spring afternoon in LA?
- Fix a clogged toilet. I lived with my parents for 3 years in my mid-twenties (hey, it was the recession…) and the house’s plumbing was out of the 1930s. So I had to constantly call my dad for advice on how to plunge the toilet. At age 29, alone in said house on a getaway weekend, the toilet clogged. And for the first time ever, I fixed it by myself. It was the most triumphant Friday night I had in years.
- Learn what you want to do in a job and what you don’t want to do in a job. Want to know why I’m still unemployed? Because I said no to 3 jobs I knew were going to make me miserable all over again. It’s fiscally stupid but morally responsible to all parties involved.
- Learn to take criticism.
- Save money. The only reason I’m surviving on California’s unemployment payments is because I saved so much in my 20s. I have a family who welcomed me in to save on rent which I recognize is a unique situation but there are still little ways to save money. I religiously read resources like Learnvest and The Muse which have great tips.
- Try and fail. I tried and I failed at many, many things. And I’m stronger for it.
- Smiling despite all odds. Trying doing it during your darkest hours — it really helps.
- Travel the world.
- Learn how to cook basic meals. I have unemployment to thank for turning me into a banana bread-baking Martha Stewart. My waistline is not as thankful.
- Just say yes.
- I know the difference between a Phillips screwdriver and a slot screwdriver. Do you?
- Have hope.
- Find good people. Surround yourself with them. LA is full of phonies but even I found the few gems in the rough.
- Kill bugs in your house. I actually got over this phobia at age 8 going to camp in Wisconsin but it’s an important thing to learn to deal with, ladies.
- Recognize that you’re only 30. The sky is the limit.
I certainly didn’t make it to 30 accomplishments but I can’t help but thank Carrie Bradshaw with leaving some very wise words that speak to all generations: “The most exciting, challenging and significant relationship of all is the one you have with yourself.” I have a feeling that I’m only skimming the surface of that relationship.