My friend Sarah recently wrote on her blog, Blonde Bostonian, how your twenties define you. I’m only in my early twenties but lately I’ve been thinking of life-plans and timelines more often. In college I was driven to get my degree but my friends also had timelines for when they wanted to get married, have kids, be at certain points in their careers. I just couldn’t tell myself I had to do things by a certain age and I thought (and still think) I shouldn’t have to. Life is too unpredictable to set in a stone a timeline for life achievements like that, however as I get into my career and grow into my twenties I find myself wanting to set goals for myself. I know that I want to establish my own independence before I partner with someone for the rest of my life and I while I want to succeed in my current job, I think that eventually I will want to be my own boss and that may require major life changes. These goals are important to me but I don’t want to give myself a time limit. I would rather keep working towards them and have them in the back of my mind. When I reach them, great!
What I do in the next seven years will shape my life but I don’t think it will define it. Your thirties are still young, and I know I will never stop learning and evolving. I also don’t want to take these next seven years so seriously that I miss out on the advantages of being single, child-less and adventurous.
This morning while lounging around my friend’s apartment in LA, waiting for her to come home so we can start the weekend, I came across an article in Glamour magazine—30 Things Every Woman Should Know by the Time She’s 30. Reading through the article I agreed with many of the things and even had achieved some of them already. I like that these things focus on becoming an independent, financially stable, and an emotionally sound woman as well as some things that many seem trite but are actually pretty important. Such as: “Every woman should have a purse, a suitcase and an umbrella you’re not ashamed to be seen carrying.” While that may seem silly, a put-together woman is a more respected woman.
So, instead of telling yourself you should be married by 26, have children by 30, own a house by 35, set goals for yourself and appreciate the little things that you have accomplished. This is a modern woman’s ‘timeline.’
By 30, you should have:
1. One old boyfriend you can imagine going back to and one who reminds you of how far you’ve come.
2. A decent piece of furniture not previously owned by anyone else in your family.
3. Something perfect to wear if the employer or man of your dreams wants to see you in an hour.
4. A purse, a suitcase, and an umbrella you’re not ashamed to be seen carrying.
5. A youth you’re content to move beyond.
6. A past juicy enough that you’re looking forward to retelling it in your old age.
7. The realization that you are actually going to have an old age—and some money set aside to help fund it.
8. An email address, a voice mailbox, and a bank account—all of which nobody has access to but you.
9. A resume that is not even the slightest bit padded.
10. One friend who always makes you laugh and one who lets you cry.
11. A set of screwdrivers, a cordless drill and a black lace bra.
12. Something ridiculously expensive that you bought for yourself, just because you deserve it.
13. A belief that you deserve it.
14. A skin-care regimen, an exercise routine, and a plan for dealing with those few facets of life that don’t get better after 30.
15. A solid start on a satisfying career, a satisfying relationship and all those other facets of life that do get better.
By 30, you should know:
1. How to fall in love without losing yourself.
2. How you feel about having kids.
3. How to quit a job, break up with a man, and confront a friend without ruining the friendship.
4. When to try harder and when to walk away.
5. How to kiss in a way that communicates perfectly what you would and wouldn’t like to happen next.
6. The names of the secretary of state, your great-grandmothers and the best tailor in town.
7. How to live alone even if you don’t like to.
8. Where to go—be it your best friend’s kitchen table or yoga mat—when your soul needs soothing.
9. That you can’t change the length of your legs, the width of your hips, or the nature of your parents.
10. That you childhood may not have been perfect, but it’s over.
11. What you would and wouldn’t do for money or love.
12. That nobody gets away with smoking, drinking, doing drugs or not flossing for very long.
13. Who you can trust, who you can’t and why you shouldn’t take it personally.
14. Not to apologize for something that isn’t your fault.
15. Why they say life begins at 30!
Do you agree with these 30 things? I think that there are some twenty-somethings that are still frolicking through their post-adolescent lives without much care for their futures and then there are the ones that have their 5, 10, and 20 year plans mapped out to a T. I think the best approach is to think about what you want to achieve in the next few years but not to stress about it. When you are in your twenties you won’t be taken as seriously as someone who is in their thirties. This is all for good reason, so enjoy it!
This list was originally featured in Glamour magazine in 1997, and has been republished periodically throughout the years. When it first debuted women around the globe chain-emailed this list to all their friends (it was the 90s, blogging wasn’t popular yet). 15 years later this list is still relevant.
You can find the list here at Glamour’s website.