More deep thoughts today. I’m in a deep thought kind of mode this month, I guess…
The more you know who you are and what you want, the less you let things upset you.
This quote from Lost in Translation really resonated with me when I first heard it. I was 21, wildly insecure, living alone in a foreign country, and had only gone to see this movie because it was the only one playing in English at the time.
Over a decade later, I still think about it. When will I reach that magical age when I know who I am and what I want?
Well, I’m not sure when that magical age happens, but for me, it was definitely not in my twenties.
With age comes clarity, it seems. Now I’m not that old, but I’m older than I was (imagine that) and while aging comes with some drawbacks (wrinkles! creaky knees!) I’ve found the pros far outweigh the cons.
So here are some thoughts on the things I’ve changed between my twenties and thirties:
What I read When I was in my twenties, I was always a little embarrassed about the amount of YA I read. I would tilt the covers on the trains so people couldn’t see them. I made sure I was interspersing all my YA reads with more “mature” books, both from the bestseller list and the classics (and in general, I am not a classics person.) When people asked me what I was reading, I would recommend the adult books–rarely the YA.
Now? I read whatever I want. I proudly hold up my pink covers with teenage girls on the cover on the train. When people ask what I’m reading, I answer truthfully. I do still read adult books, but not because I think I should–I pick ones I think I’ll like.
Why? Because apologizing for the things I like, thinking my taste is inferior to others–that’s just stupid. Like what you like! (This also applies to music. So go blast that Nickelback without shame, if that’s your thing. I’m serious.)
What I wear I was an insecure teenager who turned into an insecure twenty-something who believed that fitting in was the best way to get through life. Hence the trend-chasing. Working in the beauty industry didn’t help. I was always concerned I wasn’t wearing the right shoes, carrying the right bag.
Now? I don’t have the time, nor do I want to spend the money, chasing the latest trends. I work in a “cool” startup now, mainly with people younger than me, all with impeccable fashion sense. Sometimes I wonder what they think about the fact that I don’t own a pair of high-waisted jeans or those pointy shoes everyone in NYC seemed to be wearing this spring — but most of the time, I just shrug. I like the clothes and shoes I have; I don’t want to buy more. If that makes me hopelessly outdated, oh well.
How I treat my body This one’s obvious, but when you’re young and unlined and can bounce back from a hangover with just a little hair of the dog, it’s easy to forget that your body is a thing that needs looking after. Now, I make it a priority. I get regular exercise, I watch the things I put in it (as well as on it!) and I get plenty of rest. And I feel so much better as a result.
How I spend my time FOMO was a real thing, and even more so when you’re still figuring out who you are. I signed up for so much stuff in my twenties, from industry events to writing classes to meetups. I didn’t want to miss out!
Now, I only say yes to things that I really want to do, or will really enhance my life in some way. That mainly includes writing and spending time with the people I love; it includes fewer industry events or things I think I *should* do for my career. Life is better this way.
How I view my timeline Sure, I occasionally panic about not having kids yet or not owning a home yet or not publishing a book yet or not [insert other thing I “should have done by now” here]. But if aging as well as this little exercise has taught me anything, it’s that there is no should. There is only what is. For me. My life doesn’t need to look like everyone else’s, for the same reason I don’t need to go buy those pointy shoes. I do what suits me. And let them do what suits them.
So looking at this list, I’m noticing a theme: I’m taking care of myself better, and also giving fewer shits about what other people think. Which to me spells progress 🙂
Do you have similar things you’ve noticed as you’ve aged? I’d love to know…
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7 thoughts on “How Life Has Changed Between My Twenties and Thirties”
So relatable, except I’m not sure how much trend-chasing I did when I was younger. A bit, but I’m starting to realize how people end up with 20 years out-of-fashion wardrobes…
I don’t know how anyone wears high-waisted jeans and feels fashionable! They look so unflattering and I personally find the fit very uncomfortable. The less said about my taste in shoes, the better. My feet don’t do pointy toes either though.
Hi Mary Kate, thanks for another lovely comforting post. You really have such a good thing going on here (say I who have just started thinking about my third blog because my second one only has five posts in it. Perhaps some day I won’t have things to say that won’t fit into the blog profile I’ve ‘established’). I love photographing and find it fun to polish my pictures but I don’t enjoy doing it at the same rate as I like writing. You always find beautiful images to illustrate your posts with, all without your own editing, and the two reflect wonderfully on each other. Anyway, this post. I’m 29 and can relate to the above. With age I’ve become comfortably aware of much, but I can’t say I’m honestly there with all my thoughts yet. I feel the pressure but sometimes I reach this free zone, and it keeps me trying to find my place there. In recent years I’ve come to realize how random life is; it develops in peculiar ways and with such irony at times that it’s almost like a parody. That is, as long as one remembers not to see it as a tragedy. Happy Sunday!
Love this post! I’ve yet to hit thirty (although my quarter-life year is just around the corner), but I find myself doing the things you’ve wrote about already. Still working on being comfortable with myself and not letting things like fashion and FOMO dictate my happiness, and I have to say that I’m much happier and freer than I was just two years ago. This post was much-needed to reevaluate myself, so thanks for writing it!
Oh yes, it’s definitely a gradual process! Yeah the difference between 22 and 24 was definitely huge for me … and I just kept growing beyond that. Thanks for commenting!
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This resonated with my so hard! I’m still in my 20s by about 3 years but I’ve changed a lot in the last 1-2 years. I used to care so much about having the right clothes, or being judged for reading YA, or doing all the things so that I wouldn’t have regret. Now I’m at this point where I read what I want, and I try, at least, to not be ashamed about it.
The only one I’m still struggling with is the fear that I’m “behind” on where I should be in life. I don’t have kids – my fiance and I don’t want kids ever, so I’m never going to “catch up” on that one. I don’t have a “career” because I’m still working B.S. jobs and trying to write fiction in my spare time. Some days I’m really, really okay with it, because it’s what I want to do. Other days, I wonder if I will ever be able to stop comparing myself to the rest of the world.
Anyway, it’s nice to know that I’m not alone 🙂
So glad to hear it! Yeah it’s not a magical thing that happens when you hit 30, more a gradual thing that happens over time.
I’m actually really envious of people who know they don’t want kids — takes off so much pressure, it seems to me. I am *pretty* sure I still want them though I’m not totally convinced, haha. They seem like a lot of work. I think I’d rather be working on my novel. We’ll see.
Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if I’d stayed in the “B.S.” jobs (Starbucks, waitressing) and just tried to make a go of it. I’d have so much more mental energy, I think. But I’m on this path now and looking back doesn’t help.
Thank you for commenting, it’s nice to know *I’m* not alone!
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I think it’s human nature to constantly wonder if we’ve made the right choices or taken the right path in life. Or maybe it’s just writer’s nature. You’re right though: all we can do is keep moving forward. 🙂
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