I asked four wise and babely ladies in their thirties from the BuzzFeed UK office to answer the life questions of twentysomething women. Here’s what they had to say.
1. What should I say to my parents when they start putting pressure on me to settle down and get married and pop out babies?
Bim Adewunmi: Smile, clutch your womb, and yell, "DO YOU HEAR WHAT THEY'RE SAYING? STOP SHAMING ME." Srsly, though. Do you want to get married and have kids? If yes, tell them you'll let them know as and when. If no: Make that clear. It's your life, sis.
Laura Silver: "Fuck off." No, but srsly, you should just say, "Parents, I know that you chose to validate your existence by pursuing the heteronormative dream of ~family~ and thanks for the life and everything, but I'll be getting my fulfilment from [insert your own glorious achievements] right now, deal with it."
Kimberley Dadds: Do the mature thing and roll your eyes as hard as you can.
Hayley Campbell (who claims to *technically* be 29): Just because your parents dashed their hopes and dreams for world domination and fit abs in favour of wiping your butt for three years on the regular doesn't mean you have to. Laugh and laugh and laugh and ask them to pass the salt.
2. How should I negotiate a salary when I get a job?
Laura: Always ask for a shitload more than you actually want, because you'll always get less than what you ask for. You might have to be a bit sly and play your old employer off against your potential new one a bit. Tell your current employer you've been offered XX elsewhere and if you're any good, they'll offer you more to stay. Report this new figure back to your potential new employer, and BINGO, they should offer you more if they're keen. All that said, play the long game too: If a job's a good career move, or it's something you'll truly love, it can be worth taking the lower offer. That extra £5,000 won't taste so sweet at a job you hate.
Bim: When I changed jobs, my sister gave me some advice. "Get Lean In and read the bit about negotiating," she said. Another friend of mine told me to always ask for 20% more than you would actually be comfortable with earning. It's always tempting to go the Doctor Evil route and ask for "50 MILLION DOLLARS!" but try to be reasonable. The important thing is that you ask for more (because historically women do not) and the thing is, there's always money somewhere. Have solid reasons for why you're worth this money – no one can argue with hard facts, can they?
Hayley: I have no idea. Lend us a tenner.
3. How do I get rid of old friends that are actually kind of awful?
Laura: Sweet, sweet silence. Sure, the dramz of a fallout looks fun on The O.C., but burning bridges will only make you look bad. Answer their texts with curt but neutral statements, or don't answer them at all. Become consistently unavailable. Smile blankly and ask them no questions at the inevitable mutual friend's birthday. They'll get the picture.
Kim: Just stop calling and hanging out with them. If they make you unhappy you don't have time for them in your life.
4. What should I do if men at work are getting more praise than me even though they’re the worst?
Laura: Do you know why men get loads of praise at work? Because they spend 90% of their time whining on to everyone around them about how fucking great they think they are. If you can't beat them, join them, and I'll bet you've got far more to big yourself up about than that bunch of dick-slapping pricks.
Bim: What Laura said. In my experience, nobody myth-makes like men. They love a bit of myth-making. So, as far as your internal systems of fuckery allow, do the same. Big yourself up where possible. We all like to be liked etc, but life is short and you are deserving of the rewards that come with workplace achievement. Toot your horn, lady. TOOT IT.
Hayley: Take up the same dick-swinging exhibitionism they're so evidently great at. No one notices anything until you stick it in their face, you know that.
5. Is it OK if I want to stay in on a Saturday night or does that make me a total loser?
Laura: You're a loser if you go out when you don't want to. Recognising what you want and doing it, and feeling good about that, is the best thing about your thirties.
Kim: It's more than OK. It's advised. Put your pizza place on speed dial and sit there being comfy and smug.
6. Where’s the best place to meet good men? (If men are your thing.)
Bim: LOL, all the men are dead. The plot of Y: The Last Man happened. No more men. All gone. I mean, I dunno. They're out there, but sadly I have never received directions to the mythical place they reside, so rather than go on a fruitless search, just assume they'll stumble into your path like startled deer. You won't find them at the library, let me tell you.
Kim: Well I found my good man while I was pissed out of my face at a music festival, so I recommend that. But seriously, this magical place does not exist. You'll meet someone randomly rather than at one specific place where they will all magically be there waiting for you.
7. What should I do if a guy doesn’t want to go down on me 'cause it’s “gross”?
Hayley: Straight up, in the bin. Amy Poehler put it best in her book Yes Please: "If you don't eat pussy, keep walking." But also don't stay with someone just because they're good at it. There's a whole Sex and the City episode about Charlotte trying to make this otherwise completely pointless guy her boyfriend, and everyone knows Charlotte's a fucking idiot.
Laura: Dump him. Delete his number. Consider him dead. Never, ever, even if the good sense section of your brain has been put on hold by the curse of the crush, excuse or try to reason such terrible behaviour.
Bim: Jesus. They still make this model? We all like different things, so if you like being gone down on, consider moving the fuck on. Because what the fuck, man.
Kim: Get rid. End of.
8. What should I do if my partner cheats on me?
Hayley: I don't think people who should be together forever break up because of something huge like cheating; if that's enough to break it, then it was going to break anyway. It's the tiny, daily unkindnesses that kill real relationships dead. It's when you stop saying good morning to each other, when you stop inviting them along to things, when you freeze each other out. Real relationships die sadly and quietly; short ones die in a rage.
Kim: Scream, shout, then get rid of them. Then decide what's best for you. I'd like to leave it at that but each case is different. Some people can work through their problems and rebuild the trust. But if all trust is lost there's only one option: Get the fuck out and go find someone who deserves you more. You'll be unhappy if you stay in an untrusting relationship.
9. Do period cramps hurt more or less in your thirties?
Bim: Draw closer, friends, and let me tell you about my uterine lining. When I was younger, I would miss school from dysmenorrhoea — vomiting, migraines, fever, the whole fuckery smorgasbord. It's more or less the same now, but the PMS is even worse. Thankfully, the painkillers of the future are great, and I can work from home. In the meantime, #BanOvaries.
Hayley: I have a plastic thing that stops babies and periods and it's pretty great if you like neither babies nor periods.
10. Will I know what I’m doing with my life when I turn 30?
Bim: Maybe. I mean, it's highly likely, but not at all required.
Laura: You might. You might not. You're likely to be more satisfied with your lot whatever that turns out to be, though.
Kim: Nope. You might be a bit more sorted than you were when you turned 20, or you might need to completely overhaul your life. You'll still be a little lost in some aspects as you'll never think absolutely everything is perfect. But you will be a lot more content.
11. I hate my housemates! What should I do?
Laura: Get new roommates if they're really bad. But also, suck it the fuck up. Living with people is hard, and unless you're rich or willing to throw down your cards and live with a partner early (don't, it's bullshit and you'll lose half your records and books in the end, guaranteed), you'll have roommates. Pick your battles, learn to compromise.
Kim: Well, that sucks. I've not been in this situation, but in your thirties you don't put up with that kind of thing. I'd either make it so they want to leave or just get looking for somewhere else. In the meantime, just deal with it – try to make it better.
12. What if I never learn how to cook?
Bim: The world won't end, and you will still manage to nourish your body. Amazing, I know. Someone tell my mother.
Laura: Learn to cook as much as you can be arsed to. I love cooking and will spend hours watching YouTube videos about the correct way to spatchcock a chicken. My housemate doesn't and stir-fries broccoli to her heart's content. We're both happy, healthy, and well-nourished.
Kim: Find someone who loves cooking so you never have to.
Hayley: I like collecting skills I could feasibly use in an apocalypse and this is one of them. Apparently cooking is just reading a list of instructions and then doing those things like a robot.
13. What if I’m dancing at a club and my boob pops out of my top?
Bim: Pop it back in. No one will remember past the moment it goes back in, I promise. In the words of the sadly underappreciated singer Cassie, "Don't act like you've never seen a titty before!" Because you have, fam.
Laura: Stick it back in. Keep on dancing.
Kim: Ahh well. We've all got 'em.
Hayley: I got my tits out at a party the other day by accident and have consoled myself with the universal truth that fucking everyone loves tits, who cares.
14. What do you wish you knew when you were 20?
Laura: That you can do whatever you want, no matter where you come from. I never even entertained the idea of becoming a journalist when I was 22, because I thought it was a career only open to a few lucky Oxbridge graduates who landed a job at a broadsheet straight after uni. I thought those jobs were simply not for the likes of me. It took me until I was 26, doing unfulfilling jobs that I hated, to realise I was completely fucking wrong, and then I kicked down every door that wasn't automatically opened for me. Opportunities do come more easily to some than others, true, but if you want something enough, only you can make it happen.
I also wish I'd known to enjoy the milder hangovers while they lasted.
Hayley: That no one actually knows what they're doing or what they want to do and that yeah, hangovers are not real hangovers when you're 22. Hangovers now are like death previews.
Bim: That life is short but it's also really fucking long, so try to make some good decisions, some of the time. Also: Kiss more people. God, such regrets on that front.