I just came back from a University of Southern California women’s networking event with my SC friends Alex and Katherine. There were about 15 ladies there, all lovely, all typical SC girls (read: blonde, pretty). We had a great time. And the three of us were the oldest gals there…by about six years. In the big perspective, six years isn’t much. But in your 20s, even 2 years makes a big difference…and pretty much every day for the past two years I’ve been dreading what I always considered my first “adult” birthday:
My mom had me at this age. That means it’s the year I’m supposed to be all growed up. Right?
As we were leaving, the three of us joked about how we couldn’t believe we were now those “old girls” leaving the party early, at 7 years out of college…and we couldn’t be happier about it. Fact is, even with the big 3-0 just months away, I’d never trade my crow’s feet for my perky 23-year-old, just-graduated-and-came-to-NY self. Here’s why:
1. I’m finally used to NY. The pushy people on the streets, in the subway, everywhere, all the time. It can sometimes be too much even now..but the difference is that today it’s nothing a couple of hours alone in my apartment with Colbert can’t fix. I now know that New Yorkers aren’t mean — they’re just in a rush — me included, hurried to get past the camera-toting tourists blocking the sidewalks like a 10-car freeway pileup while I’m trying to get to work. Because (besides getting to work), there’s just too many incredible things to do in this crazy city to not be on-the-go. Philharmonic concerts in Central Park. Jeff Koons balloon sculptures at the gallery down the street. Michael Shannon on Broadway. Plus you couldn’t pay me enough to sit every day in 2 hours of LA traffic again.
2. I can afford to eat. This makes me infinitely happy, not to be on a diet canned veggies and cereal for dinner. Now I can test out that saffron couscous with scallops and shrimp recipe I found online…and I’m not the only one at home to enjoy it.
3. I actually have a job I like! No more booking $6K flights to China for the CEO who hates me so much he can’t look me in the eye and says he doesn’t “trust” me to handle his travel plans. No more writing press releases for the client that just lost all of its investments because it was the second largest investor in Bernie Madoff. No more fear for my job during rounds of monthly layoffs. After five years of drudgery, I finally get paid to write and edit and design and dream all day, AND I get to work with people I like, AND (fingers crossed) I don’t have to worry about my job getting eliminated (any time soon, fingers crossed, oh shit I just jinxed myself).
4. I don’t have to date assholes anymore. Or do the “walk of shame” on a Saturday morning. Or lug 10 pounds of work clothes & gym shoes into work in a giant duffel bag because I stayed the night at my boyfriend’s apartment, and I don’t have a car where I can hide it, and I can’t make it back to my apartment to change out of yesterday’s clothes before my 9am conference call. Plus I don’t have to date the guy who cuts himself, or is sweet but just happens to have women-hating friends but that doesn’t mean he’s a jerk too, or who went to Harvard and thinks he’s God’s gift to the world. This is my favorite.
5. I just feel so much more…confident. I can walk into a room where I don’t know 90% of the people, and while my introvert only-child self still doesn’t always feel 100% confident, I can hold my own and walk out not really caring what everyone in the room thought of me. I have my career, my real friends, my partner, my health, my happiness…and the rest is just life.
So 30, I am still dreading you. But maybe a little bit less today than yesterday.
Photo: Avenir Cards/Etsy