Between ages 20 and 29, you can get away with a lot. It's common to be figuring out your life plan, adventuring, exploring, and experimenting. Changing jobs is to be expected. Dating different people is common. Not cooking for yourself or planning for retirement and going out several nights a week is a-okay, because everyone you know is doing it.
Everyone older than you gives a wry smile when they find out your age and calls you "just a kid." On one hand, kind of insulting—after all, you're working really hard to figure things out! On the other hand, it's a little release on the pressure valve. After all, expectations aren't through the roof for kids.
You round the corner on 30 and no one thinks you're a kid anymore. There's pressure to have everything figured out, be solid in your career and relationships, to have kids yourself and a financial plan, and to clarify a sense of direction in your life.
And the pressure begins.
Thankfully, just because you turn 30 doesn't mean you suddenly have to have all the answers and become super serious with no sense of fun (please, keep your youthfulness as long as you can!). Regardless of what lies ahead in your fourth decade, there a few things everyone could stand to take stock of—you know, those things that seem totally okay in your 20s—that will probably not serve you moving forward, at least not in excess.
Ready? You're a big kid. You can handle it.
Sorry, friend. Those all-nighters at the club are wreaking havoc on your body, sleep schedule, and mental acuity. While the standard recommended maximum of drinks for adults is five to seven per week (women on the low end, men on the higher end), it's absolute chaos for your system to have your weekly allotment all in one night. As your organs age along with you, they become more and more sensitive to the effects of alcohol and less and less able to regenerate quickly.
Benders set you up for chronic health problems, including kidney and liver disease and disordered sleep, and often lead to other potentially harmful behavior…like texting your ex in the middle of the night or being passed over for a promotion because you fall asleep at your desk. Stick to a few drinks a week, you classy grown up, you.
Staying in unhealthy relationships.
That guy you started dating because everyone you showed his Tinder photo to thought he was hot? The one who stands you up all the time and who you're pretty sure is dating someone else? That friend who consistently puts you down or leaves you out of plans with her "better" friends?
These folks are draining your emotional resources and taking up too much of your precious time, energy, and life-force. Putting up with being mistreated—for popularity, image, status, whatever—will continue to deplete you. You deserve better. Get in touch with your future self and ask her what she wants in her relationships. She probably wants to be valued and treated well. Maybe she wants to laugh. Do her a favor and cut ties with anyone taking advantage of your beautiful self and save your best for the people who deserve it.
Relying on Seamless for all your meals.
Takeout, while convenient and delicious, stops being cool for every meal somewhere around 30 (sorry). Not only is it often overloaded with sugar (think Thai food) and salt (think everything else), many restaurants don't rely on the best quality produce. So even if you're eating veggies, you're likely lacking the variety of nutrients your mature body needs, especially if you eat the same Chipotle bowl seven times a week. Plus, ordering in every meal is more than three times as expensive for the average person than it would be to cook at home. Unless you have no other financial goals in your life, this isn't going to do you any favors.
Start thinking about budgeting time and money each week to prepare your own food—even just a few meals to start will make a difference! It doesn't have to be anything fancy: a couple of roasted sweet potatoes, a homemade salad, and a pot of quinoa can go a long way for your body, your wallet, and in making you feel like a legitimate grown up.
Not wearing sunscreen…or flossing.
These simple personal care tasks are key to longterm health, and ignoring the consequences of not doing them isn't sexy. Cut your skin cancer risk by using an SPF of 15–45 on your face and any exposed skin every day, and protect your oral health by flossing daily. Just do it. The alternative might be dentures in your 40s.
Arguing with your parents over nothing.
Sure, they make you crazy, but now that you're an adult, cut them some slack. They're human, and they're (probably) not trying to make you miserable. Try to reconnect with them as adults and find things you have in common. It's probably more than you think! Call/FaceTime/email them every once in a while, too; they'll appreciate it.
As comedian Mike Birbiglia says, "It's easy to be on time: Just be early. On time lasts one minute…and then you're late. Forever." Being perpetually late is kind of okay when you're a teenager or early twenty-something and don't have control over your transportation or adequate frontal cortex development to effectively plan your time. By 30, it's time to demonstrate some professionalism and consideration. Leave yourself extra time, plan for obstacles, and set yourself up to arrive on time (read: early).
Creating barriers for yourself—in love, career, or adventure.
By the start of your fourth decade, you have ample life experience behind you. Acknowledge and take advantage of opportunities that present themselves. You have everything you need to take on big challenges that might lead to big rewards—the only thing in your way is your belief that you're still too young/too untrained/too unstable to go after what you want. Recognize that you've spent the last 30 years proving yourself and acquiring the qualities required to achieve big things. Now is the time to get out of your own way and seize your 30s courageously!
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