Meredith, 31, New York, USA
When you're a kid, or a teenager, or even in your very-early twenties, the age thirty sounds like a grown-ass person. I thought that thirty- somethings had all their shit together, owned property, had children, were settled down into what their life would be for the rest of their lives. I was WAY off.
Of course, all of those thoughts came from somewhere- I grew up in a very traditional Catholic family. All of my aunts (and there are a lot of them) were married in their early twenties, had at least two children before thirty and owned homes. Once I finished college, the next generation followed suit. Although it was a little different, my cousins got married in their mid-late twenties, established their careers then had a baby. I always thought that was my path too, mostly because that is just how it went, and how I thought it was supposed to look.
Now here I am, 31 years old, living in Brooklyn with a roommate and only a year into a job that I am still unsure about and still struggling financially- and I am overall mostly happy with how my life is. I am totally free. I don't have to run plans by my husband, or make sure I have a sitter. I can decide to do anything on a whim. But more then that- I am finally comfortable with who I am. I had no idea who I was in my twenties. I was trying to fit in constantly. Now I fully adapt to the thought of "Take me or leave me". I used to be so easily talked into things, or ever peer pressured into the stupidest things- like "stay out longer", "take this shot", "that dress isn't cute" (I'll wear a tent if it makes me feel pretty! Thank you very much). Today I have no problem leaving a party early, or not going at all. I feel like if I meet someone now, they are meeting the real me, not the version of myself I think they will like. And I am ready for it. I am not looking for a husband anymore, I am looking for a companion. It is a real possibility that I may never have children...and I am actually okay what that. I have nieces and nephews who I love, and that's totally enough. I learned that it's more important to me to have a career where I am successful, and hopefully one day a companion/best friend, than it is to fill out these traditional expectations. I have also learned that a lot of people don't get that, and they usually respond with "Don't say that! You will find someone! You still have time to have children!" - Thanks guys, but it A) does NOT happen for everyone and B) I am okay with that, not to mention you guys a patronizing AF.
I have also learned that just because you grew up with someone, doesn't mean you need to stay best friends forever. Of course I love my old friends, they were all apart of my life for a reason and I still love to spend time with them here and there, but sometimes you outgrow people or your interests just differ too greatly. I no longer want to go out and drink my face off all weekend every weekend, I don't need those four shots of Jameson on an otherwise chill Friday night. I also learned that it's never too late to make new friends and to find people who are on the same page as you. In the last year I have met some AMAZING women and men who have worked their ways into my life and heart, who I consider some of my closest friends.
All in all- what I've learned from my two years as a thirty something is that it's okay to be true to yourself, in fact it's amazing to be true to yourself. Stop caring about what other people think or what they are doing, or where they are in their life. It is not a competition. Whether you are a stay at home mom, a CEO, or still figuring it all out- what is important is that you are happy, healthy and contributing to the world in a positive way.
Women rock and we can't ever let anyone try to convince us otherwise.