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As her 30th birthday draws near, Lauren reflects on the important lessons she’s learned along the wayBy: Lauren Sanchez
In 136 days, at 5:05 p.m. CST, I’ll be turning 30. How’s that for a countdown?
In all honesty, I’m not counting—I had to Google this information. But as I’ve gotten a bit older, I’ve noticed that with the passing of each year comes more awareness of age and the stereotypes that come with it. I think about it like this: when I turned 21, it was a “rite of passage.” No longer was I at the mercy of my roommate to buy me that bottle of peach wine on her weekly trip to the grocery store. I could walk into any bar and happily order whatever drink I wanted, and when asked for my ID, I was quick to flash it, because now, it meant something: freedom.
Then all of a sudden, I was 25. I had graduated from college, even finished graduate school, and had experienced all the nerves and anxiety of landing my first job. I was now a “young professional”. Life was about happy hours with colleagues and starting to become an adult. I say starting because in hindsight, I was still a bit clueless. I was still eating frozen dinners and had stupidly applied for my first store credit card. But life at 25 was surprising, even adventurous, as I began to navigate the world of online dating and started cultivating my persona as the single, fun-loving wedding guest at the couples’ table. I was still enjoying that intangible yet incomparable gift that I’d been given at 21: freedom.
Which brings me to now: I’m 29, and in less than five months, I’ll be 30. So, what have I learned? What poignant points of wisdom could I share?” Well, here goes…
If you reflect on your life, your age has likely been something that’s talked about in the few weeks before your birthday, and then quickly forgotten once the day has passed. And when the day does arrive, amidst all the toasts and picture-taking, you probably have a split second when you realize, “this is just another day.” You realize that, while this celebration of you that has brought together your closest and most fantastic friends is wonderful, it wasn’t really worth the nail-biting agony of choosing the location, deciding whom to invite, and stressing over the fear that no one would show up. While I’m a firm believer that birthdays should be celebrated, I think that the added pressure of turning any age and what society dictates it should mean is bonkers. Who deemed 25 the age when you should be living on your own? Who said that not owning a home or being in a relationship after 35 was disconcerting? No one I know, and probably no one you know. Yet I can’t help but feel angst each time I’m asked, “So, seeing anyone special?” or “Are you thinking of buying a house anytime soon?” These may be valid questions, but if I answer “no” to all the above, does that make me less of a person? Certainly not.
>Deep down, no one has it all figured out.
In fact, does anyone actually know what this phrase means? Does it mean having a spouse, a home, and two kids? Or does it mean being gainfully employed, living in the coolest neighborhood, and vacationing abroad each year? None of these scenarios are written paths to success yet, when I see the Instagram feeds of some of the friends and complete strangers whom I follow, I get a little jealous. I start to want what they have, or at least, what they pretend to have. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve thought, “if only I had her job or her wardrobe”, I wouldn’t be a millionaire, but I would be debt-free. It’s moments like these that I have to remind myself that we all have insecurities. We’ve all had that moment when we’ve walked into a party and realized the only person we knew was the host, or woken up for work one morning only to realize that our alarm was set for P.M. instead of A.M., or worst of all (IMHO), that moment when after paying all of our bills we wonder, “how in the world will I live on $50 for the next two weeks?” It’s not about having it all figured out by a certain age. It’s about realizing that there will always be another challenge around the corner, and that challenge can often teach us something great about ourselves.
>At the end of the day, we all just want to be loved.
However, that love comes in many forms. For me, the love that I now seek and am fulfilled by is that of my friends. I believe that my friends truly are my family. I love them, care about their feelings, and am interested in the details of their daily lives. Nothing gives me more pleasure than calling them at the end of the day, just to see how work was or what they had for dinner. It might seem mundane, but it brings me joy, and it’s how I want to be loved. Maybe what you’re currently seeking is love in a relationship, or love in the form of acceptance by your partner’s friends, or love in the form of affirmation from your boss. We all seek it, and sometimes, we all are amazed/disappointed by it. But at any age, the love we seek and the love we share is championed by our desires to belong, to feel important, and to feel as though we are making our mark on the world.
So the next time someone starts lodging the ageist questions at you, I hope you’ll swallow that lump in your throat, ignore that pang of guilt in your stomach, and answer with something profound, something witty, and something fabulous, just like you.
“Lauren lives in Chicago and loves cooking, Jimmy Fallon, and trying the newest workout craze. If she could make a living off being a city tour guide for the rest of her life, she’d do it in a heartbeat. Her list of role models includes Beyonce, Mindy Kaling, and Brene Brown.”
Find her on Instagram or Twitter @Lasanz85 (though she’s a self-proclaimed “pretty boring” Tweeter 🙂