Let’s just say getting old isn’t for the faint of heart…
- Some of your parts get creaky
My husband had minor knee surgery a few weeks ago, and the surgeon prepped him by saying, “Well, for younger people, we do one thing, but for older people like you…” At that point my husband stopped listening because those four words kept ringing in his head.
Older people like you…
Older people like you…
Older people like you…
Then the surgeon turned to a discussion on the arthritis in Daryl’s knee.
In your 30s, some of your parts get creaky. My formerly twentysomething self thought this wouldn’t start happening to me until my forties or fifties, especially since I eat fairly healthy and exercise a ton.
Nope. If you’re in your thirties, welcome to Mild Arthritisland, population YOU.
2. There are things you are officially “too old” for
If I decide to have another baby, my medical file will be stamped with the terrible letters AMA. Know what that stands for?
ADVANCED MATERNAL AGE.
Yep, in your thirties you officially become too old for certain things, including an assumed low-risk birth. Doesn’t mean you can’t keep having kids, it just means your doctor is going to screen you for like nine bajillion additional things with super scary sounding names like “low amniotic fluid,” and “Trisomy 21,” and “too old-itis.” Made that last one up. Probably.
Fun times. Fun, fun times.
3. The bad habits of your 20s catch up with you
In your thirties, you suddenly can’t eat an entire can of chocolate frosting for lunch and still fit in your jeans. You can’t go from not-in-shape to totally-in-shape after three gym sessions. If you’ve been subsisting on hamburgers and tacos up until now, you’ll suddenly develop a Tums habit.
Not to mention the fact that now you need to sleep more than four hours a night if you want to be coherent in the morning.
Pulling an all-nighter? No longer even remotely worth it. You’ll pay for daaaaaays.
4. Friendships from college are some of the sweetest
Those friends you took a road trip to Joshua Tree with? Yeah, they’re still around. Now some of them are married and some are even married with kids, but those epic stories endure.
You’re now old enough to have been friends for nearly two decades with some of these peeps. You’ve seen each other through bad relationships, entry-level jobs, ill-timed moves, and all sorts of family drama.
There’s an ease to these friendships now because you know you’ll always be there for each other. You’ve proved it.
5. Forty no longer sounds old
Remember how forty sounded positively ancient when you were in your teens? Yeah, now it’s knocking at the door. You might have siblings in your 40s, and you definitely have friends who are. Forty? No big deal. That’s the new twenty, just with creakier knees.
6. You feel much more confident in your own skin
I remember someone telling me that in my thirties I’d wistfully long for the body I had in my twenties (even though in my twenties I could have told you about seventeen things I didn’t like about my body).
In one sense this is true. I’ll never live in skin without stretch marks again (THANKS A LOT, KIDS). My skinny jeans have gotten a touch less skinny with each passing year.
But I am also much more comfortable in the worn-in body of my thirties. I no longer fear wearing a swimsuit in front of people because life’s just too short to care what so-and-so thinks about my thighs.
7. You start saving money
I remember someone lecturing me in seminary about starting a 401k and thinking, “Uh, yeah, I’d do that if I had any money.” Now I realize that even setting aside $50 a month when I could have eked it out would have made a huge difference.
If you haven’t been saving much before, you start saving now. Momentary luxuries pale in comparison to big future expenses like houses, education, and retirement. Suddenly that latte doesn’t seem that important. Most days.
8. Your priorities shift
I used to be up on all the latest bands. No longer. I still listen to my favorites from earlier decades (DMB and Counting Crows for the wiiiiin!), but I’m no longer scouring for that great new artist. Now I spend my time reading parenting books, meeting girlfriends for coffee, deepening my spiritual practices, and saving that money I used to spend on concert going for boring-but-important things like a 401k and my kids’ college tuition.
I’m not gonna spend $400 to see Beyoncé when I can watch her online for free and I’m happier being in bed by ten.
9. Family becomes even more important
As a kid I adored my family. In my teens I wanted to escape my family. In my twenties I started to appreciate my family. Now in my thirties, I realize that family is truly always there. Through moves, job changes, marriage, the addition of kids, illnesses, stresses, and growing pains, family is there.
Except when they’re not, because as I grow older they all do too. I no longer take my grandparents for granted, since most of my friends have lost theirs already. I think ahead to what life will look like when my parents need a helping hand, and relish the years we have now when they’re still super active and can toss the grandkids into the air.
Friends rock, but some of them come and go. Family sticks around.
10. You know yourself
I no longer worry about acting cool. I never really was, and now I don’t care. Trying to talk me onto that killer roller coaster? Not gonna happen. Call me a dork for being willing to drive three hours to attend a poetry reading? Couldn’t care less. That fashion trend everyone’s talking about? It isn’t going to work for me. (I mean, really… ROMPERS?! What are we, EIGHT?!)
In your thirties you start to settle in to who you are — quirks and all –and feel okay about it. You’ve made peace with your foibles, worked on some of those stubborn sins, discovered a truckload about grace, and started to just be you.
What a glorious decade.