A couple of days ago, I celebrated my 31st birthday. This breakthrough moment inspired me to reflect upon the past decade to identify some differences between being in my twenties and early thirties. As per usual, I also consulted this issue with my friends. Our conclusions were depressing and optimistic at the same time. Why? Because growing older is not a black and white thing. It is an exciting process. On the one hand, your life is no longer so carefree, and, dare I say it – random, but on the other hand, you notice a lot of progress, you are more confident and know what you want (and what you don’t want, of course!).
There is no one simple answer to whether being older is good or bad than being younger. It’s just different. Eckhart Tolle said: ‘realize deeply that the present moment is all you have.’ Embracing the present moment is the best recipe not only for living life but also for accepting the aging and the changes that follow it. Aside from that, trying to be the best version of yourself, regardless your age, is always a great idea. You look good, so you feel good. It is that simple. Pamper yourself, be kind to yourself, wear whatever you like, and express yourself. Last but not least, remember that age is just a number! And who cares about numbers? School days are over, and so is math. However, if you are, like my beloved boyfriend, a fan of math (bless your heart for that!) and consider numbers to be crucial in your life, then the message for you is: age is the only number in the world that is irrelevant!
- Your alcohol consumption lowered drastically.
My friend Magda noticed: ‘tequila is no longer so easy to digest for me.’ I could not agree more. Moreover, because I was growing up in Poland where vodka is like tea in England, it was common to consume this sophisticated, transparent, and magical liquor quite frequently during social gatherings. Nowadays, when I am visiting my home country, and I would occasionally have two or three shots, I will be very sick afterward. I remembered that when I was in my early twenties, people who were drinking only beer or wine were old and lamé (it’s a word ‘lame,’ but with a French twist, we created it with my friend Marit just for fun). Guess who is now this lamé person? Moi. Nevertheless, that’s the circle of life, as we have learned from the Lion King.
2. You need your 8 hours (or more) of sleep.
The early twenties be like: partying until four am and go to work the next day at 9:00. Or studying the whole night when the exam is at 10:00 but still passing it. These days are over. Sleep is crucial for overall health, brain functioning, and skincare. That is why depriving yourself of sleeping can be very dangerous and bring you irritation, emotional instability, lack of motivation, and zero productivity. Now, we should all see a good night’s sleep as a priority. Regardless of how much caffeine you will have, you are not able to recover so quickly as you used to after sleepless nights. Bear in mind that sleep is also an enjoyable thing to do. Thus, instead of worrying that you no longer can work/party until the dawn every week, relax and appreciate sleep as a self-care element that will help you in conquering the world the next day.
3. Things never be the same again.
Well, Mel C was right.
4. You can’t eat junk food, ignore the gym and still be happy how your body looks (disclaimer: this is not about a particular size of the body, it is all about feeling your best in your body).
Ok, this one is cruel. Back then, I would eat frozen pierogi (Polish dumplings) from Tesco every day, McDonald’s at 2 am and, of course, a lot of delicious white bread with cheese, heated in the microwave to make the exquisite (almost French) toasts. Ordering pizza at least once a week was a prevalent and never questioned decision. I had no idea about diets, calories, and stuff like that – yet I was content when I looked at myself in the mirror wearing skinny jeans.
Those times have passed. Now there are only two options. The first one is eating junk, not counting calories, and being happy intoxicated with sugar and fat while not necessarily enjoying yourself in the mirror. The second one is eating smaller portions of healthy food, monitoring calories, and enjoying yourself in the infamous skinny jeans. I have chosen the latter because I noticed that healthy food positively affects the mood, not only the body. I would eat junk food from time to time, and I am still addicted to sugar, but it is no longer a food regime like I did when I was in my early twenties.
5. Hangovers last not a day but a whole month.
Do you recall waking up after the party and having everything settled the night before? You would have Ice Tea and water next to your bed and, of course, high-fat food. During the night, you would drink a lot of water in between shots; you would eat before drinking. The next day you would take a nice nap, eat the food, take a shower, and you would be like a new person. You would pass the exam, go to work, study, go to another party.
The situation I described is what you once knew as a ‘hangover.’ However, the ‘hangover’ that you are familiar with now differs remarkably from the abovementioned. If you will drink even one drink too much (and it can be even the lamé wine), you end up with several days like a zombie. Yes, my dear friends, the ‘thirties hangover’ is the very reason why you hear people saying: ‘I am ok, thank you, I will pass.’ When I was in my twenties, I have never heard anyone saying that, including me.
6. You became allergic to bull****.
Being in your thirties is not always sad and depressing compared to your twenties. With time, you get to know yourself better. You develop more advanced coping skills, and as a result, you are more confident and self-aware. That gives you the power to be more immune to other’s people bullshit, including your family (10 Steps to Survive Toxic Family). You know what you want, and you are less afraid to ask for it. You know that we only have this one life on Earth and that your time is precious. Hence, you are more conscious of how you want to live. You pick your friends and partners more carefully. You can very quickly detect any bullshit, and you won’t engage in it because it’s a waste of your valuable time!
7. You are not that dumb anymore.
Yes, I know, age itself won’t cure stupidity. I have met a lot of smart, mature children and stupid, immature adults (10 Reasons Why I Can’t Stand Boomers). However, if you work on yourself, learn from your mistakes, try to improve your past behavioral patterns, and invest in self-development, then I have good news for you – you are most probably not that dumb anymore as you were in your twenties. Whether you are trying meditation practice, therapy, or spiritual books, this way you keep looking for answers and you know that you are a work in progress. You are aware that a change has to start with you. Hence, being on the never-ending quest to happiness while enjoying the journey, not the destination, is a key.
8. You are buying flowers and other plants to lighten your mood.
Nature is beautiful and uplifting. Also, because you are staying at home more, you actually have time to water them.
9. Your only FOMO concerns chilling on your couch and watching Netflix.
Being antisocial is one of my favorite things to do in my thirties. ‘I am sorry, I have to check the pillows on my couch, so I am going home’ or ‘I am afraid I won’t make it because Netflix is asking if I am still watching it and I don’t want to be rude and ghost it.’ Couch, books, series? These are firm commitments. We should start using real excuses and be more open and honest about what is so essential in our lives. If I have an intense period socializing, I need time to recharge my batteries after and stay at home. I am also ready to sacrifice a big part of social life to follow my dreams and achieve my personal and professional goals. I no longer have FOMO or feel offended if someone would say to me: ‘You are never going anywhere anymore.’ Yes, that’s true. That’s the path I have chosen for me, and I will ask you to respect that. I had my twenties to be social!
10. On weekends you think: ‘I will finally get some rest’ instead of ‘I will party again!’.
Just own it! (and get some well-deserved rest!)