Tomorrow I turn 33 and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Movies and books never tell you this sweet little secret because it’s too boring: Your thirties are freeing. I freaked out a bit on my 30th birthday, all encumbered by the myth that once 16, 21, even 25 pass you by, a birthday isn’t worth looking forward to. I mean, how many women do we know who claim to be perpetually 29?
Thirty isn’t perfect. There’s those weird hormonal things women only fess up to in quiet whispers or brazenly when things get silly and they’re in a confessing mood. A sudden change in your periods, those weird, stiff, black chin hairs (stop looking!), a fundamental shift in your body’s gravity, especially if you’ve had babies. Thirty will never be the new twenty, but all I can say is Thank Goodness!
At (nearly) 33, I’m comfortable being a woman in a way I never felt at 23. Do I wish I was thinner, had less cellulite, never had to wear a bathing suit again? Sure. But I’m also comfortably curvy and more realistic about my dream size. I exercise so I can have more energy and endurance, and avoid gaining more weird older woman weight. Let’s be real, though: I don’t want to give up indulging in a cookie or two and I like eating yummy recipes from Cook’s Illustrated more than I want to fit into a pair of skinny jeans.
Thirty didn’t somehow magically rid me of every insecurity, but it did feel like a new beginning, a comfortable shift away from old baggage and tired expectations. When opportunities come my way now, I wonder less if I can and skip over to how I’ll get it done. The way I measured success when I was younger – always compared to others, always on a large scale – doesn’t suit me anymore. There is so much to celebrate about here and now while simultaneously looking toward the future. And remaining flexible and open to possibilities, accepting that dreams shift, feels more natural now.
Perhaps the most telling freedom I’ve found in my thirties comes from being comfortable in my own skin. It’s odd how feeling confident in your choices, comfortable with your lifestyle, relatively satisfied with the direction you’re headed, frees you to focus outward. More than ever, I am eager to meet new people, get involved, engage in the world around me, discover new things, become a part of the community. The question isn’t Will I fit in? anymore, but How can I get involved? Who can I meet? What can I contribute?
Just remind me of this blog post when I’m staring 35 in the face two years from now. ;0)