The inspiration for this post came from an article I read “20 Awesome Things About Being in Your Late 20s.” A lot of the things on their list, I was still trying to figure out or had no idea when I was in my late 20s. Surprisingly I know people who are my age (or older) that still haven’t grown up in so many ways. Counting down just under 9 months before I hit the big 4-0, I’m realizing that I’ve come a very long way since my late 20s, but still have a lot more room to grow.
- I’m finally comfortable in my own skin. This means so many things to different people. For me it’s not caring what others people think about me, being okay with not making the “popular” choice, and not being afraid to go against the grain. I’ve realized when it’s time to put a stop to other people’s bullshit and show them the door. My opinions are my own, and when the situation comes, I know when it’s time to raise my voice. In the past few years I realized that I am not a pack animal. I steer away from cliques as much as I can. It was a tough thing to choose to pursue interests and activities the majority of my friends weren’t interested in. So what did I do? I diversified the friendships in my life, finding people who have similar interests and values.
- I’ve learned how to say no. I used to overextend myself constantly. Worried that I would be disappointed others if I didn’t say yes (see #1). Now, I’ve developed and utilized a method to politely decline to invitations and requests. Do I slip from time to time? Of course. But the difference is I acknowledge it, move on, and try not to do it again. Plus, I no longer feel bad for saying no. In fact, I enjoy saying it now more than ever! I used to spend so much energy trying to please others, even those who didn’t care about me. Yeah, bye-bye!
- I don’t sweat the small stuff anymore. I have a colleague who is probably 15 years younger than me. Younger end of the millennial spectrum. This person tends to outwardly express their stress constantly. Deadlines. Missing documents. You name it, it is a source of stress. Must be exhausting. I used to let little things stress me out. Now, not even traffic stresses me out anymore. If I’m going to be late…so what. I’ll get there when I get there…just so as long I arrive in one piece.
- My culinary palate is pretty diverse. Before, a filet mignon was pretty fancy for me. Then prosciutto came into my life. Growing up in Kansas eating ethnic food we had very few choices – Chinese, Mexican, and Italian. Now days I can appreciate having Ethiopian one night, Cuban another, and trying out all sorts of eclectic ways to eat bacon. Sushi is now as mainstream as spaghetti and meatballs. Now when I travel, rather than buy souvenirs, I try the local foods. I once ate my way through Europe, which was absolutely amazing. I once had a friend who refused to eat out at ethnic restaurants. Curry dishes was even off limits for this person. I feel so sorry for what they are missing out on…but that just means more good food for the rest of us!
- Dating takes on an entirely different meaning. Depending on where you’re at personally or professionally, dating comes in different flavors. There were times I had no interest in getting serious with any one person. Other times, I was looking for something more meaningful. As I entered my late-30s I stopped looking for “the one” or prequalify them based on their online dating profiles. The “hot” or really good looking guys, I steered far away from them. The serial texters, I severed those off pretty quickly. More or less, I gave most guys a chance…at least one date, and only if they were willing to actually commit to setting a specific date, time, and place to meet. In one date I could get a feel if: #1 – their values were in line with mine, #2 – if I was attracted to them (never trust an online profile picture), and #3 – if I wanted a second date to get to know them better. And when I met someone I knew I didn’t want to see again, it was fine. I thanked them for their time, paid for my half of the tab, and went on my merry way.
- Work-life balance. I was raised with a pretty solid work ethic. Be the first to show up and the last one to leave. Work overtime if it’s offered. Always work towards a promotion. Now, having work-life balance is more important to me than anything. I was having lunch with a friend the other week, talking about our careers. I told them for once in my life I have no desire to climb the corporate ladder and have the responsibility that comes with a six-figure salary. Been there, done that. I’m perfectly fine being a valuable contributor in my role with the freedom to leave work behind at the office when I go home at the end of the day. I now work to live (pay for bills and fun), not live to work. I care less about the status that comes with a highly paid position or title.
- Living the dream. Fresh out of college I thought living the dream was climbing the corporate ladder, buying a big house, having designer clothes, and driving a fancy car. Now, all I want to do is have amazing experiences. Traveling the world. Eating at amazing restaurants. Doing fun things with friends. Of course I like having nice things just as much as the next person, but it’s more about those items bringing value to my life…and lasting longer than just 2-3 uses. A friend once told me “buy nice or buy twice.” Such is true. Any who, many of us grow up wanting to please our parents by doing the right thing. Graduate from high school. Get your college degree. Land a good job. Settle down and buy a house. You get the picture. Even amongst friends I often get asked why I’d been single for so long. After a while, I just avoided interacting with people all together so I didn’t have to waste my energy explaining to them I was living MY life, not the expectations they had for mine. You only get one…so don’t waste it making others happy at the cost of your own happiness.
- Ability to let go. I used to hold grudges like no other. I’m still working on that. I’ve been burned by friends and loved ones more than I care to count. Does it still hurt? Absolutely. But to acknowledge that hurt and be able to move on with my life has been tough, and I’m getting better at it every day. I no longer get caught up in the drama that intertwines many relationships and friendships. Not only is it a waste of time and energy, it’s very unproductive…kind of like watching reality TV. Another piece of this is accepting change gracefully. Whether it’s a bad relationship, a demotivating job, a sad incident, a nagging boss, or a pesky friendship, I recognize when it’s time to call it quits.
- Going to bed at 8:30pm on a Friday/Saturday night is OK. Not only is it okay, it’s a treat in most cases. Especially if I was deprived of a nap earlier in the day. Often I talk with friends and one of our wishes is to take back all those times we were supposed to nap as kids and didn’t. I’m sure if we added up all that time, it would be several months worth of nap time. I remember many nights coming home after working all day and working out, and looking forward to hitting the pillow on my bed. There were times I’d turn in as early as 7:30pm. Glorious times.
- I’m happy with my body. This goes back to being comfortable in my own skin. I may not be the super-thin girl with a modelesque figure or athlete with ripped abs…and I’m okay with that. I don’t workout to look good, I do it because it makes me feel good…and it’s good for my health. I no longer get all self conscious about my love handles popping out of my swimsuit at the pool or the scars on my neck from all the surgeries I’ve had. Every dimple, scar, roll, crease tells a story…and if others find it unattractive, well…too bad because I could care less. So many of my friends are such beautiful people, inside and out and it pains me when I hear them talk ill about themselves and their physical appearance. I wish they could just embrace themselves however they may look. It’s liberating when you do. Here’s a great article written by a gal who was finally comfortable with herself after gaining 30 pounds! So awesome!
So wherever you are in life, I would love to hear what you enjoy the most about being in your 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, etc…because I’m looking forward to the next decade and chapter in mine.