I would like to formally apologize AS A 30-YEAR-OLD for the delay in part three of my “Decade in Review” series. The birthday celebration started over the weekend and spilled into the beginning of this week, rendering me basically useless for sitting down and focusing on anything but what meal or drink was next. Now that all that’s behind me (and on me, namely in my stomach and thigh areas), I’m ready to complete the third and final chapter in this series of life lessons.
In part one, I covered my early 20s (from losing my virginity to not knowing how to do laundry). In part two, I covered my mid 20s (from depression to discovering my career path). For part three, I’m happy to report that my lessons aren’t nearly as heavy, and you know why? Because basically all of your 20s suck, so by the time you get to 28 and 29, things are finally starting to level out and you’re more ready than you ever imagined to roll into the next decade of your life. That’s why.
So let’s finish this shit up, shall we?
AGE 2️⃣8️⃣: Nice isn’t enough.
At 28, I had a nice boyfriend and a nice job. It was all very… nice. Not great, not bad. Just nice. But I realized, I don’t want nice. I want a lot more than nice. I want exciting, amazing, fun, passionate, interesting, challenging, hilarious, intense. ANYTHING BUT NICE. But it’s where I was for the moment, so I accepted it. At first, it was easy. I made peace with feeling content. Why should I ask for anything more? Why shouldn’t I just be happy knowing I even had a boyfriend and a job and a few good friends? Why was I so ungrateful and chronically unsatisfied? What was wrong with me?
The further I settled into my relationship and job, the more the “niceness” of it all ate at me. Sure, I felt secure and taken care of both professionally and romantically, but it was all missing something I couldn’t quite put my finger on. An X factor. From the outside looking in, I’m sure things seemed peachy. I was crushing it at my new job, in a good relationship with a non-asshole, and having fun in between it all as any normal 28-year-old should.
But soon, the niceness began suffocating me. I wasn’t being challenged by anyone or anything. I could do no wrong at work or at home, and that’s not fun for anyone. I began to realize my boyfriend was SO nice that he literally refused to even attempt confrontation in the name of keeping our relationship alive; that there was little to no passion to sustain between us and that any time I pushed for it, he was standing by with broom in hand and the rug picked up off the floor. I started to see my job for what it was: a very nice path to a surefire dead-end. I didn’t want to give up on it after having not even been there a year, but the draw to work somewhere not as nice and better suited for me was too magnetic to ignore.
So, that August, after one more passionate attempt at getting over the nice hump that seemed to be stunting my relationship’s pathway into the type of love I wanted, I broke up with my very nice boyfriend. Have you ever broken up with nice? If so, you know it’s the absolute fucking worst. Breaking up with nice is painful. You find yourself wishing they had cheated or abused you or killed your dog or SOMETHING ANYTHING TO JUSTIFY BREAKING THEIR VERY NICE HEART. But sometimes there is no other reason besides it was nice, but you don’t want nice — you want so much more.
Next came my job. My coworkers and I got along swimmingly. My boss loved me to death. I was making mini waves where I was, but those waves were only nice and manageable and ones I could easily surf with little to no wipe outs (GNARLY, BRAH). I wanted big waves. YUGE. Crashing tsunamis that knocked me around and disoriented me in the best way. So, I got a new job and left.
And all of this — the breakup and the job-leaving — was sad, but right to do. Because sometimes (most of the time), nice just isn’t enough.
AGE 2️⃣9️⃣: THERE ARE NO RULES.
I don’t think it’s uncommon to have set loose rules for yourself by certain ages. Whether you do it consciously or not, you more than likely have goals for yourself (or at least I hope so?). You know, things like get my savings to X amount by this age or be married by this age.
The closer I got to 30, the more I began to internally panic. Was I doing it right? Did turning 30 with marriage and babies nowhere even kind of on my horizon mean I had failed? If I wasn’t living a certain way with certain checkmarks in certain milestone boxes by 30, was that it for me?
The answer, obviously, is no. Because there are no rules. There is no right way to evolve, to pace, to experience. Some people have what you might consider a “normal” path, while others all over the place. During your 20s (and all throughout your life, but the 20s is my focus here), you might take three steps forward one year and two steps back the next. You might think you’re in a good place by age 26 and have never been so miserable by 28. You could be content at age 29 and decide to go back to school and change your entire career path by 29.5. And you can do that, because there are NO RULES.
Life is not a straight and narrow path. It doesn’t all have to be figured out before you’re 30. In fact, it shouldn’t be. The 20s are your time to be miserable, confused, excited, insane, dumb, surprisingly insightful, fucked up, bored, depressed, elated, hopeful and, most importantly, open to experiencing it all. Have shitty jobs, date awful people, make a fool of yourself more times than you can remember but always keep in mind that nothing that happens in your 20s means it’s the end of world. It just means you’re going to love turning 30 that much more and have so many stories to tell when you look back on your life. You’ll be able to more easily relate to your own children’s trials and tribulations while saying things like, “Hey! I survived! And you will, too” and that’s something you can’t create out of thin air. You have to live it to know it.
All that said, I would never ever for any reason ever do my 20s over. Not for a second. Not even one year of it. They were what they were when they were happening, and they’re over now. I learned so much, experienced so much, and had enough anxiety about it all to talk and write about for a lifetime. Would I do some things differently? Absolutely. But if I did, even in the smallest of ways, maybe I wouldn’t be where I am today and that would suck. So I’m glad they panned out as they did, and I’m even more glad to be moving on from them. So long, 20s. You were the worst 10-year long anxiety attack I’ve ever had, but I love you for it.
And with that, I leave you with this: