People say life gets better in your thirties.
I may only be one year into the age group, but I am all about this decade. The year I spent as a 30-year-old was the best year of my life. Yeah, there were the big things — getting married, going to Africa, adopting Ellie, moving out of Manhattan, being healthy for an entire year (!!!) — but there were also some valuable life lessons, theories, and changes that I picked up along the way.
So in true “It’s my birthday [tomorrow], and I’ll be cheesy if I want to” fashion, here’s a list of all the things I’ve loved about being in my thirties so far.
1. I made “I’m 30, I’m too old for this shit” my motto. And I stuck by it. When I didn’t want to deal with drama or things that felt petty, I dropped that line and moved on. New motto: “I’m 31. I’m way too old for this shit.”
2. I finally — finally — learned to be OK with my body. This was a big one for me. One day I just told myself I was done constantly criticizing myself in mirrors, photos, or real life. (Ah, the mindset of a former dancer…) As soon as I flipped that switch, my entire outlook changed. I had so much more free time to think about more important and meaningful things in life! Even at my fittest and strongest, I never gave my body enough credit for what it could do (like running marathons). Now, even though most of the clothes I’ve been wearing for the past few years no longer fit, I’m the most content I’ve ever been. Changing my outlook — not my body — did the trick.
3. I stopped apologizing so much. “Hey, sorry, just want to check in on those 12 emails I sent the other day that you’ve been ignoring.” “Sorry, I know you’re busy, can you give me a call when you have a sec?” “Sorry, can I have a sixth slice of pizza or do you want it?” Enough. Save those sorries for Justin Bieber.
4. I became less obsessed with my workouts. This was the year I finally — again, finally — gave into true lazy rest days and came to appreciate their values and benefits. There is nothing wrong with taking a day off of running and all other exercise. A lot of this happened after blowing up at the Brooklyn Half and realizing I was so over-trained and desperately needed to give my body a break. Then, when we got Ellie, I quickly realized I would so much rather take her on adventures than slog through junk miles I didn’t really want to run. I love running and I love working out, but I also have a better sense of balance these days. It took a while, but here we are.
5. I finally paid off my debt. I used to use my credit card very sparingly until I got super sick a few years ago. Then, onto the card went my hospital bills, my medications, and my cabs to and from work every single day. That stuff added up fast. On top of all that, I had to stop working temporarily, and going on disability meant abandoning my paycheck. Since then, I carried an ever-growing balance on my credit card. Last week, I finally paid it off in full. Again, it took a while, but it feels really good to finally be debt-free.
6. I learned how to care for another being. It’s a dog, not a human, but still. Learning to take care of Ellie has been life-altering. I know I’ll offend someone out there if I compare having a puppy to having a baby — particularly since, I know, I’ve never had a baby. But Ellie pretty much required round-the-clock attention when we first got her. Even now, at almost eight months, every day revolves around her schedule and her well-being. I care so little about my own needs because I am so invested in making sure she is safe, happy, and fed.
7. I stopped obsessing over dumb shit. Much of this happened when Brian and I moved to our current apartment. I was a demon roommate before the move. Our Manhattan apartment was so small and so crowded, and I would obsess over every single thing. If Brian didn’t make the bed perfectly, I would snap. If I had to ask him to take out the trash, I would snap. Everything about that living situation stressed me out, especially once I started working from home, and I just couldn’t let it go. I harped over such trivial things. Now that we have room to breathe (and more room for those dirty dishes), I just don’t care about the dishwasher or the laundry being put away anymore. I do still make the bed every morning, though.
8. I stopped spending so frivolously. This change came into play when I made the transition from an office job to freelance life. I’ve become smarter about spending and investing and saving, and finally set up an automatic weekly transfer from my checking to my savings account. It’s a small amount at a time, but every dollar counts. Plus, living in New Jersey means no more “I’m too lazy to cook so I’ll order Seamless,” and way fewer cabs or Ubers. I’m a little embarrassed it took me until my thirties to really take my finances seriously and to want to start investing smartly in my future, but hey, I got there eventually.
9. I stopped caring or thinking about the haters. I put parts of my life out on the internet. You can love it, you can like it, you can ignore it, you can hate it. The choice is yours, not mine. If you choose to hate it — and still follow along — that’s a reflection of you, not me. I’m not a perfect human, and despite all the over-sharing, what I put online isn’t my entire life. Years ago, negative comments or reactions would keep me up at night and make me cry. Now? No f*cks given. If my parents tell me I’m being a horrible person, or Brian or Ellie or any of my close friends feel that way, I’ll take it into consideration, because they’re probably right. But anonymous strangers on the internet? Boy bye. (TM Beyoncé.)
10. I’ve learned to be happy now, instead of waiting for “when” or “if.” I used to think I’d be happy if I were thinner, or when I had more money. I’ve stopped trying to have a perfect body (hi, I live next door to Ben & Jerry’s…) and as long as I live in the NYC area I don’t think I’ll ever see the kind of money I used to dream of. But my life is rich in experiences and relationships and a puppy who loves me even with cellulite and pimples along my jawline. She doesn’t care about the state of my bank account as long as we all have somewhere safe and warm to lay our heads at night.
11. Talk less. Smile more. I’m borrowing this one from Hamilton, but it’s a good one. Listening = learning.
If you’re a 20-something who thinks being in your thirties makes you “feel old” or you’re dreading it or any of that madness, give that up. Your thirties are going to be great. (Do I sound old and wise yet? Or just annoying? The goal is to be the former!)
As I wrote this post, I asked Brian whether he preferred his twenties or his thirties (he’s 2.5 years older than me), and he laughed at the notion that your twenties could even compete with your thirties. “Your twenties are a f*ckin’ struggle,” he told me. “You’re figuring out what you’re good at and what you’re supposed to do. In your thirties, stuff starts to fall into place. You get to execute on all that. It’s way f*cking better.”
Perhaps at some point both of us will learn the lesson that “swearing isn’t classy.”
Maybe in our forties.
I know I haven’t commented on your blog in like 5 years, but I just binge-read like 20 posts and 1. HAPPY BIRTHDAY! 2. Congrats on the Brooklyn Half today! 3. Your dog is super adorable. Goodness gracious.
and 4. This post made me feel much better about turning 30 next February. I’ve had so many f***ing breakdowns, breakups, moves, career ups and downs, basically UNCERTAINTY in my 20s that at 29, as I am starting to feel a little bit settled, starting to feel more comfortable saying yes to what I want and no to what I DEFINITELY DON’T WANT (more importantly), I welcome wrinkles, inevitable cellulite and going to bed earlier in exchange for a little more stability.
I’ve enjoyed reading your journey along the way, ups and downs and all. Look forward to reading more. Welcome to your 30s!!!
A belated read and response to this, and I have to say: It is great! Although I’m not yet 30, I am significantly more settled in my life than I was a year or two ago, and I’m feeling the benefits. More good to come, I hope.
I’m about 10 years older than you and I can honestly say that my 30s were the best years of my life. I wonder if my 40s will even be able to compete. All of what you say is true (and puppies and babies are pretty similar, I believe). Life just seems to be getting better and better.
Although saggy eyelids…not so much.
I could not love this post more if I tried!!! I too have been really working on not obsessing the workouts, forcing the crap miles or workout or whatever, embracing rest more, and not nitpicking crap (I am the SAME way with our house and sometimes nitpick stuff M does, like throwing his keys and sh*t on the counter vs putting them away, um really?!). Great post and I concur…the 30s are way better than the 20s 🙂
Happy Birthday! Totally agree with so many of these points…I’m 31 now and will be 32 in August and completely agree about how awesome the 30s are…keep embracing it!
I enjoyed this post a lot. I’m 32 and have felt the same way about my 30s. My 20s had far more exciting times, thrills, crazy nights that give me stories to tell now, etc. But nowadays I feel more directed, like I’m intentionally building something, as opposed to just bouncing from one thing to the next. And yes, doing that dumb shit like investing and other forms of “adulting” makes you feel proud and secure.
I don’t think I’ve ever commented before, but I’ve been reading since 2011. Glad you’re still blogging and taking us with you as your life moves into a new era.
Hi, it’s Kaitlin Fuelling’s mom- loved your post! My 30’s were way better than my 20’s, and I’m liking my 50’s, too.
So happy that life is good for you and that you are enjoying every moment, especially with Ellie!
Mrs. Fuelling!!! This comment is amazing. I love your daughter — it’s an honor being her birthday twin (plus a few years, that is). Your comment made my day!
I’m 32 and I frequently say, “you couldn’t pay me enough to be in my 20s again!”
I definitely don’t have it all figured out yet, but am so much more comfortable at this age than I was in my 20s.
Swearing is classy AF.
Cosign the “30s are awesome.” I’ll be 39 this year, and I feel better, more secure, and more confident than at any age. And if I ever feel old, I just need to get down to the boathouse, where I get my ass handed to me by 50-60yo ladies.
Some things get harder. Mortality becomes more pressing as parents age. Money disappears faster (house, kid, one-income family). Priorities get a lot more rigid. And a 9pm bedtime never sounded so good.
But on the whole? My 30s have been a blast and I can’t wait to tear up my 40s. Happy birthday, Ali!
Happy birthday Ali! It took me a lot longer to learn a lot of these lessons, so you should be very proud that you’re in such a great place at such a young age.
And BTW, I’m 43, and I still curse like a sailor. 🙂
EVERYTHING about this post is how I feel about 30. I’m a June birthday (to be 31 soon) and this past year has been the best of my life. Also – I also just got my finances in order as of January this year. At least we got it in order, right?! Freelancing also jumpstarted that for me.
Great post, as usual. Happy birthday!
Love the 30’s. They haven’t been perfect for me, but I feel far less pressure to need to do everything. Kind of embracing the fact that 90% of my friends have young children, too, which leaves me more “me” time (read: more wine on the couch with a book), and I can choose when I want to go out and see them instead of feeling pressure to PAR-TAY like the 20’s.
1. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! I’m no longer in my thirties (sniff sniff) but I’m here to tell ya that they were the best most special time of my life. Enjoy them, but it sounds like you already are!
2. You’ve really got your shit together. I’m in my forties and I’m still working on my insecurities and body acceptance. I’ve definitely gotten better as I’ve gotten older, but there is definitely room for improvement!
3. I’ve had a baby and now I have 2 dogs and I’m definitely not offended by your baby/puppy comparison. Both are beings that we love and care for and teach us so much!
4. And finally, #10 made me cry.
Happy Birthday, Chica!! Wishing you many chocolate peanut butter cup Blizzards and puppy kisses!!
love all of this. especially that stellar just in queso t-shirt.
Oh yeah. the thirties were way better than the twenties! And guess what? The forties rock 🙂
Yes, 30’s are way better than 20’s. Especially when DQ is involved…
I’m 35 and can also confirm that the thirties have rocked! I don’t really have any angst about getting older, but maybe it’s because I still feel like I can, and do, play. I think self acceptance has a lot to do with it, but also a deep understanding of what my personal requirements are for happiness. That whole not sweating the small stuff helps too, and being willing to make changes when/if I’m not happy. I don’t know, so far aging has been very liberating. Cheers to you on your birthday!
LOVE! And couldn’t agree more! I turned 32 last month.
Happy Birthday! And I agree, 30’s are awesome!
Happy early birthday! This was so fun to read! I’m a few years away from 30 but it’s nice being reminded that it’s not something to fear! Hope you have a great year being 31!
I loved this post and hope you have a great birthday tomorrow and that each year is better than the last! (Says the person who’s slightly freaked about turning 35 later this year.)
Happy almost birthday! I forgot that we are birthday buddies! I wrote a life lesson post very similar to this today. Feeling pretty wise in our old age I guess! 🙂
I love all your blog posts, but this one is by far my fave!
I love everything about this post including the punny title 🙂 I’m just about to turn 29 and I say bring it on let’s do this! Happy Birthday and thanks for sharing with us on the internet!
Since we share the same birth day I thought I should leave a comment. I’m reading your blog for years now and it’s always so interesting to see how your live has changed and than compare it to mine. I absolutely agree: Turing 30 last year changed a lot. I did quite my job, and moved to sweden just because I wanted to and did not wanted to wait for a better time to do so. Also bought a puppy because the time felt right and willing to change my life to make that happen! Now turning 31 tomorrow I am excited to see what changes are coming next!
Happy birthday and keep on going!
First, HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! I can’t wait to hug you, when will I hug you? Also, can we all stand up and give you a round of applause, the honesty on this blog is amazing.
Happy early birthday and thank you for this post!! I’m older than you (36) but agree that once I hit my 30s, I started to not care as much about little things that used to consume my days. Do I want to be 10 pounds thinner? Sure I do. But do I want to not enjoy margaritas on my balcony or bake homemade chocolate chip cookies? Nope, not worth it. I can accept my body for where it is and live a happy life. I was the only one noticing anyway, I’m sure.
Getting a dog is the best for perspective — I got my Aussie four years ago and I have learned to enjoy leisurely walks, napping on the couch, and putting this fuzzy little creature’s needs above my own sometimes. (Although this have severely cramped my social life and going on vacations, since I always get sad to leave him. He thinks we’re the three amigos, so when my boyfriend and I leave, he looks at us like, “How could you!?! We were having fun!”)
Enjoy Year 31!
Ali I love your blogs. I am so proud of the amazing woman you are and all the things that make you happy. You should be so proud of all your accomplishments and the family you have. Keep writing and thanks for sharing.
YASSSSSSS! Exactly what Brian said! And everything you said! I’m 36 and I have a lot of younger friends who start to sound unhappy when they near that 30yo milestone. I preach all the time about how much better your 30s are – you’re more comfortable in your own skin/space, you’re more secure in your career and lifestyle, there’s so much less DRAMA in general.
The best part is that my coworkers and I were talking about this when celebrating the birthday of one of the youngest who was turning 28 and already “worrying” about creeping up on 30…of course I got on my soap box about how much better your 30s are than your 20s, and as soon as I finished one of the other women chimed in to say that she feels exactly the same way about her 40s and how they’ve been even better than her 30s…and then another coworker chimed in to say that they felt exactly the same way now that they are in their 50s! How awesome is all that to look forward to?!
Happy birthday, enjoy the hell out of another year!
ok thank you, i needed this..about to turn 30 in a week and i’ve been in silent panic mode. Happy 31st!
Great post!! 20’s are ok, 30’s were pretty good, but your 40’s?!!! They are Fantastic!! You have a TON of amazing adventures ahead of you and memories to make with your cute family!
Love all of this. Happiest of birthdays to you! So glad I have you to look up to. Cheese fest over since you won’t be at NP tomorrow.
happy early birthday. love this post. who would’ve guessed getting older was cool?
this is great – loved every single point. cheers to you for finally finding balance and happiness and contentment and love and all the things we hope we will find when we start to adult! such a journey and you sound like you’re at a great spot. i’m also a big fan of the early 30s (so far, so darn good). i read something last week about how we humans are so caught up in the “Someday Syndrome” (your if/when point made me think of this) that we forget to live in the now and enjoy the magic in every day. <3
AMEN!!! What a fabulous post 🙂 I’m 2 years into my 30’s and feel the exact same way. As I read your post I could relate to so much of what you were saying (it’s nice to have some validation from others from time to time)
Hope you have a fantabulous birthday!
Love this and I feel the exact same way. I’ve been party of the dirty 30 club for almost 4 years now and while life has thrown me a few curve balls, I feel so much more grounded and wise than I ever did in my twenties. In my experience your twenties are your time to be selfish and f*ck around (not literally, but I guess you could) to try and figure out who you are and what you want out of life and your thirties are all about going after said life. As the old adage goes, “thirty and flirty and thriving.” Happy early birthday!
Oops – happy birthday! ??
This post was a much needed read for me!! I’m 46 and I seriously need to print this out and work hard on living it!! Thank you for always being so real and sharing so much!
Thank you for this post. I’m the one dreading my 30’s (& I’m still 3 years away). So, thank you. And Happy early birthday 🙂
Happy early birthday! I loved reading this post because I’m starting to figure out some of this stuff now and I’m still IN my 20s so hopefully I get it all straight by the big 3-0 😉