Advice to 30 Somethings from a Forty Something

After the past seven years, I am feeling pretty schooled in the ways of the world. In addition, this past COVID year and recent changes in my life have caused me to feel as if I have advice to give.

You may be thinking what my qualifications are for giving you advice. Here is my (shortened resume):

  • public school teacher for 20 years
  • divorced
  • parent for 13 years
  • “well” traveled (taught in a foreign country)

Acknowledged biases to help you determine validity:

  • white female
  • middle class
  • graduate school educated
  • heterosexual

Okay so now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, you can and should decide if you think the following tips are worth your time.

Here is my advice 30 somethings:

  1. There is NO ticking clock. This is a narrative created by society and supported by people year after year, but the reality is no one is keeping time except you. There is no real “baby clock”, “marriage clock”, “real career” clock. Whatever you choose and whenever you choose to do it, it will workout and it was meant to be.
  2. Settle down and choose your hard. I stole this one from Glennon Doyle (I recommend you read Untamed if you have not.) Everything is hard. It is hard to stay fit in your 40s, but it is equally hard to let yourself go and watch yourself fall apart in your 40s. The 40s don’t pull any punches either. I have friends who are seriously ill or getting major surgeries because of the hurt they have put on their bodies. Body parts that seem unforgiving in your 30s are downright pissed in your 40s. Overall, start to decide what you can live with and what you can’t.
  3. Start to really decide who your friends are. Your friends of your 20s can’t always be the friends of your 30s. Marriage, career, kids can throw a wrench into a 20s friendship that was built on a single dating life. The same holds true in your 40s. Friends who have stayed childless start to work their way back in as your children start to outgrow their need for you. Friends who are just starting to create their families start to fall away. Opportunities to chat on the phone, which may have been lost in your 30s, also start to emerge again because little ones don’t need you like they used to need you. Friendship in your 40s with the right people really starts to create deep connections. There are a lot of twists and turns ahead as your parents age and things start to change. It is important to nail down a few “scar-tissue” friends as Brene Brown would say.
  4. Relax. This is really a marathon. Sometimes I think about stuff that really weighed me down in my 30s about my kids and my workout routines and my job. So much of those things have fallen away and now make absolutely no difference now. The things that make a difference now are so completely different and really didn’t depend on anything that happened in my 30s. It’s ten years later for me and it doesn’t matter.
  5. You can find love and yourself and good friends and great experiences well into your 40s. Some say that it’s even better, but I am not sure about that. My point is that you shouldn’t think that entering your 40s means anything about those constants stated above. Girls’ trips, romantic dinners, peaceful opportunities to meditate all still happen. Aging is really about some really cool changes to the way your perceive the world around you.
  6. Forgive yourself and others who have hurt you. Try not to take that shit into your 40s. I have worked for a number of years to process and forgive those who have hurt me as well as myself for the “sins of my 20s and 30s.”

Well, I hope someone can use this. Let me know!

Love and Light, All!

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