Lessons on turning 30

By Jess Procter
@north_west_jess

Thirty isn’t old— let’s get that out of the way. Maybe it’s because I spent the last decade serving regulars who were all over 50 and, in comparison, I still feel like I’m treading water in the fountain of youth.

While I’m excited to be entering a decade with some financial and emotional security, I also experience pretty frequent reminders that I’m not 19 anymore; more often than not I catch myself getting excited about a new knitting project or choosing tea over booze (who am I?).

Last week, I blended my morning smoothie without fully securing the lid on my Vitamix and my heart raced faster than when I cliff-jumped into a lagoon filled with stingrays while on holiday at 21.

This is my new normal, and while my boring, straight, white, middle-class university graduate understanding of the world will most certainly not reflect all women’s experiences turning 30, there are some nagging universal truths that are applicable across the board— I’m looking at you, hangovers. Here’s what I’ve learned.

Take Me to Church

When you’re single in your twenties, every wedding you attend is a veritable smorgasbord of available dudes dressed in their best and ordering you drinks at the open bar like they’re, well, free. When you’re creeping up on 30, though, attending a wedding as a single lady becomes a special kind of torture. At one wedding that I attended alone, the MC called the unmarried guests to the dance floor for the bouquet toss. I was the only one.

While I’ve never been a bitter singleton and am more than capable of feeling happiness for my coupled friends, that was coincidentally the only wedding I’ve attended where the bar ran out of beer. Luckily the wine was flowing like milk and honey in the Promised Land, and a bottle of Malbec, I heard later, was my partner on the dance floor. For the record, “dancing like nobody’s watching” is terrible fucking advice when there is a hired photographer on the premises.

 Skinny Love

Maybe I was a cold-hearted ice queen when I was 19, but when I got dumped I gave zero fucks. Being a strong, independent woman, I revelled in the opportunity to spend more time working out or hanging with friends (read: books). Dating was something I did for fun, not to find a potential life mate. A broken heart at 27, however, completely derailed my life. I took some time off work and moved temporarily into my mom’s house to spend my days weeping quietly into my dog’s fur and studying Eat, Pray, Love like it was a religious text. Finally, my best friend kidnapped me and drove me to her family’s cabin to drink wine away from wifi. A month later, after engaging in all of my tried and tested therapeutic tools – running, writing, and getting tattoos – I started to entertain the idea that I could be happy again (it didn’t hurt that I had lost 15 lbs on the Vodka Diet). You know what definitely won’t help you get over that breakup though? Googling “How many eggs do I have left at 27.” Don’t do it, girls.

Waking Up in Vegas

Everyone is always saying “Spend time with your parents, you never know how much longer they’ll be around,” but this is particularly true if you have young, healthy parents like mine. While many of us will eventually need to find our parents a caregiver, mine could use a chaperone. My dad crashed his Harley Davidson last year and nearly died, and my mom got banned from a hotel in Vegas for attempting to steal the gondola from the Venetian. Clearly, just because we’re getting older doesn’t mean we have to reign in our crazy and settle down, but the shocking thing that I’ve discovered is that I want to. As teens we often have a tendency to believe that the world revolves around us. It doesn’t. There’s no time like your thirties to start appreciating those you love, and that means picking up when they drunkenly FaceTime you. After all, you never know when the next company trip to Vegas will be their last.

Blame it on the Alcohol

Speaking of Vegas, the rumours are true: for most of us, our hangovers will become much more detrimental as we age. While you may have the best of intentions for your liver and your wallet, occasionally you’re still gonna get a buzz on, whip that MasterCard out, and generously buy shots for the entire bar. It’s just human nature. The two things that are different when you do this in your thirties are: 1. that you were probably saving that money for something sweet, like a downpayment on a nice condo, and 2. the hangover you’re gonna get from those shots is going to last two days instead of one. If you’re currently able to drink until 6 a.m. and still get to your 8:30 class with only a coffee and a litre of booze in your belly, enjoy that, friend. Ride it as far as it will take you, because sometime in your late twenties, a switch will flip and you’re going to drink two measly bottles of wine and end up calling in sick, ordering a large Panago, and sucking on the sweet teat of a Gatorade all day long. Shit is gonna get real, you heard it here first.

You Better Work, Bitch

When you’re young, it’s so easy to believe that your dream job or your big break are just around the corner. This stems from receiving participation awards in elementary school and from bullshit sentiments our parents told us like, “Do what you love and the money will follow.” That’s a hard pill to swallow for someone who got their degree in literature because she thought it’d be cool to get paid to read. Rather than telling me that “everyone is special and unique like a snowflake,” I wish that the adults in my life had played me Britney Spears on repeat: “You want a hot body? You want a Maserati? You better work, bitch.” Your dream job or your big break may actually be just around the corner, but your chances of getting there will be greatly improved if you follow Britney’s advice. Otherwise when you turn thirty, you, like me, could find yourself having a panic attack in the handbag section of Nordstrom because there’s no way you’ll ever be able to own such shiny, beautiful things on the salary of a waitress.

Who Run the World?

As anyone who’s watched Amy Schumer’s “Last Fuckable Day” skit can tell you, a fierce double standard exists when it comes to aging, and it doesn’t just exist in Hollywood. While the familiarity of the “older man” ideal makes it easy for us to sexualize and appreciate the aging male (see: “silver fox,” “dad bod”), most women are not privy to the same kind of appreciation. After the release of the most recent Star Wars film, I was struck by how much we still venerate Harrison Ford as a sex symbol while we viciously scrutinize Carrie Fisher. Leave the body shaming at home and mind your own damn business. And while we’re on the topic of business, I’d like to propose we obsess over women in a new way: less criticizing, more enterprising. With women artists and entrepreneurs like Lena, Amy, Mindy, Tina, and Bey building their own empires, we are in a better position than ever before, and that position is Woman On Top. Educated and opinionated girls are often told that it is unladylike to be bossy, but today’s GirlBoss movement celebrates how bossy bitches get shit done. Loose lips don’t “sink ships” anymore, they champion the cause.

Rather than lamenting the Dirty Thirty milestone (or Nerdy Thirty, if you’re me), we can be in a place to embrace having our shit together, and that’s nice. So what if I’m a little behind the times. Does anyone really care if I don’t know the difference between “turnt” and “faded”? Having a bit of money and being able to remember spending it is a luxury I am thoroughly enjoying. You know all those things you think when you’re young, like “I forget what it feels like to wake up without a hangover?” or “I hope I find a partner who respects my body and my mind?” or “Wouldn’t it be great to one day knit my own blanket?” —those things all happen to you at some point, if you let them. And when you wake up sober one Sunday morning under that blanket that you knit yourself, beside a partner who smiles when he wakes to you, you’ll think “Thank God I’m not twenty-one anymore.”

 

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Jess is a server, writer, and new bride who lives and loves in Yeast Van. She is a connoisseur of good cider and bad tattoos and will knit you something pretty if you ask.