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16 Things About Being In Your Thirties I Wish Someone Had Told Me, So I'm Telling You

It's a magnificent decade to be in tbh! But also the hangovers are real bad and you think about death a lot.

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During my twenties, nothing about being me felt much different than it ever had.

I’d accumulated some nicer clothes and I had prescription eyeglasses, but otherwise, I just felt like the same Sally making her way through life. In my thirties, I gradually started to feel more like an adult. You know, like parents, or the people in car commercials. I’d hear myself explaining what an insurance deductible is or I’d realize that I declined a second drink so I could have a good workout in the morning.

The older I get, the more interested I get in thinking about not just what's next, but how I got here. So, I rounded up some of the things that happened in my thirties — some kinda minor, others pretty gigantic and/or defining — and that might happen in yours too.

1. You will develop the ability to tell when someone is an emotional vampire before they have a chance to destroy your life.

Universal Pictures / Via giphy.com

By the time you're in your thirties, people have gotten more used to the rhythms and expectations of being an adult, and have either chilled out or gotten better at performing stability. Those who remain very extra, very messy, or very needy really start to stand out. Eventually you realize that you are not compatible with people who are draining your energy with their shenanigans. The best part is that you start to be able to identify this quality in a person before you get into a complicated friendship or relationship with them.

2. “Being alone is actually pretty great" is something you’ll find yourself saying quite a bit.

I was super social in my twenties, partially because it was really fun to stay out late drinking and the hangovers weren't that bad. But also — and your emotional journey may vary — I just didn't really want to spend that much time alone in my own head. But as I got older (and, OK, had more years of therapy under my belt), being alone started to actually feel rewarding. Also, the FOMO isn’t as bad anymore. Like, I’ve been to a lot of bars, I get it, I know what happens, and I'm 101% sure that I won't regret not going out.
@lifeclubuk / Via instagram.com

I was super social in my twenties, partially because it was really fun to stay out late drinking and the hangovers weren't that bad. But also — and your emotional journey may vary — I just didn't really want to spend that much time alone in my own head. But as I got older (and, OK, had more years of therapy under my belt), being alone started to actually feel rewarding. Also, the FOMO isn’t as bad anymore. Like, I’ve been to a lot of bars, I get it, I know what happens, and I'm 101% sure that I won't regret not going out.

3. You'll discover that pop stars, pro athletes, and extremely accomplished celebrities are younger than you...which will be heartbreaking at first, and then totally fine.

There will always be precocious geniuses, but in your thirties you realize that the people most famous for being brilliant, talented, hot, or some combo of the two are almost all younger than you. I'll never forget the day I learned I am two years older than Beyoncé. It’s jarring when it first starts to happen, but then you sort of feel like a proud aunt watching the youths really kill it.
giphy.com

There will always be precocious geniuses, but in your thirties you realize that the people most famous for being brilliant, talented, hot, or some combo of the two are almost all younger than you. I'll never forget the day I learned I am two years older than Beyoncé. It’s jarring when it first starts to happen, but then you sort of feel like a proud aunt watching the youths really kill it.

4. Also, your doctors may be your age or younger and it’s pretty unnerving.

One day a couple years ago, I learned that you can’t use parchment paper in the toaster oven but you can put out a fire with a flip-flop. What I’m saying is, when I think about how ill-equipped I am to respond to emergencies in everyday life, I feel suspicious that someone my own age could provide me with adequate medical care. But so far, I’m doing OK; it turns out that medical education and training go a pretty long way, and you will get used to the youthfulness of your health care providers.
ABC / Via instagram.com

One day a couple years ago, I learned that you can’t use parchment paper in the toaster oven but you can put out a fire with a flip-flop. What I’m saying is, when I think about how ill-equipped I am to respond to emergencies in everyday life, I feel suspicious that someone my own age could provide me with adequate medical care. But so far, I’m doing OK; it turns out that medical education and training go a pretty long way, and you will get used to the youthfulness of your health care providers.

5. You will get to know yourself better and it’s pretty great.

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When you’re a teen, your only assignment is to cope with your hormones and get through adolescence intact. In your twenties, you start growing into yourself. And in your thirties, it finally feels like there's an actual, fixed you that doesn’t change depending on the day or the situation. It’s awesome to feel like somewhere along the way, you forged an actual identity.

6. Related: You will start to care a little less what people think of you.

Logo / Via giphy.com

At this point, I just kind of feel that if someone doesn’t like me, it’s more their business than it is mine.

7. You will have reason to believe that everyone else is winging it, too — which is extremely comforting.

NBC / Via giphy.com

When I was younger I assumed I was struggling more than my peers, that being a person was just harder for me, and that other people my age had figured out more way earlier than I did. But now I can see clearly that other are people figuring it the fuck out as they go, just like I am. It’s so comforting to realize that although I still don't know everything there is to know about relationships, finances, career, and emotional stability, neither does anyone else basically.

8. Adult financial shit — taxes, bills, anything involving insurance — will get less mystifying.

Comedy Central / Via giphy.com

By the time I hit my thirties I knew it wasn’t a great idea to just ignore medical bills on the grounds that I didn't feel like i should have to pay them. I now have an actual set of skills for dealing with things that were once so overwhelming they totally incapacitated me.

9. You think about existential shit a lot more.

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Maybe it's because my parents are getting older, or because everyone makes you feel like the moment to decide if you want kids was yesterday. Maybe I just have more bandwidth to think about bigger things now that my life is less chaotic (again, been to a lot of therapy). But for whatever reason, I spend a lot of time thinking about big, speculative stuff, like what this all means anyway, the legacy I’m going to leave behind, and, you know, death and dying — all things that were never really on my radar before.

10. You will realize you're the age of the PARENTS in movies and TV shows.

NBC / Via giphy.com

It has challenged me on the deepest emotional level to process the fact that I am no longer supposed to relate to the protagonists of many popular TV shows. It really hit home when I realized that hot dad of Riverdale, Fred Andrews, is played by Luke Perry, who was a teen idol when I was a teen. Nothing has ever made me feel closer to death.

11. It will feel like your decisions matter more, which is pretty heavy.

In my twenties, I felt like it was OK — if not expected — for me to tank relationships, quit jobs with abandon, and make ruinous financial decisions. But that didn’t seem too terrible because if I was going to live till my late nineties like I planned, I’d have several decades to clean up my messes and rebound from whatever damage I'd caused. Even though my nineties are still far away, the expectations have totally flipped. People expect me to be stable, sensible, and forward-looking. It feels like the opportunity to blow it has passed, and that the choices I make now are the ones that will really, truly determine my future.
Fox / Via me.me

In my twenties, I felt like it was OK — if not expected — for me to tank relationships, quit jobs with abandon, and make ruinous financial decisions. But that didn’t seem too terrible because if I was going to live till my late nineties like I planned, I’d have several decades to clean up my messes and rebound from whatever damage I'd caused. Even though my nineties are still far away, the expectations have totally flipped. People expect me to be stable, sensible, and forward-looking. It feels like the opportunity to blow it has passed, and that the choices I make now are the ones that will really, truly determine my future.

12. That said, you tend to make better choices because you’ve learned from your (many) mistakes.

It's not that as you get older, some kind of wisdom is magically bestowed upon you. It's that you've fucked things up enough times and learned from them that you start making better decisions. Once you invite someone over to break up with them and then ask them to leave because you have plans that night, you never do it again, trust me.
Twitter: @georgetweetings

It's not that as you get older, some kind of wisdom is magically bestowed upon you. It's that you've fucked things up enough times and learned from them that you start making better decisions. Once you invite someone over to break up with them and then ask them to leave because you have plans that night, you never do it again, trust me.

13. Drinking isn’t as fun as it used to be.

And not just because hangovers are worse and last longer (though they are and they do). Being drunk when I was younger made me feel carefree and uninhibited. Being drunk in my thirties is more complicated. As I’ve been saying, your responsibilities feel "real-er," your decisions feel more consequential, and you think about existential stuff more. Pouring alcohol on that stuff isn’t totally un-fun, but it’s not as freeing as it once was.
Bravo / Via giphy.com

And not just because hangovers are worse and last longer (though they are and they do). Being drunk when I was younger made me feel carefree and uninhibited. Being drunk in my thirties is more complicated. As I’ve been saying, your responsibilities feel "real-er," your decisions feel more consequential, and you think about existential stuff more. Pouring alcohol on that stuff isn’t totally un-fun, but it’s not as freeing as it once was.

14. You will eventually admit that top 40 music, mainstream movies, and chain restaurants are fine, and sometimes even great.

When I was in my twenties, I had strong, precious beliefs about what constitutes good art, food, and culture. But as you get older and sadder, you'll look for comfort in new places. And because you're starting to ask those "why are we here?" type questions, who really cares anymore if people know you've always kind of liked Backstreet Boys?
Twitter: @iwearaonesie

When I was in my twenties, I had strong, precious beliefs about what constitutes good art, food, and culture. But as you get older and sadder, you'll look for comfort in new places. And because you're starting to ask those "why are we here?" type questions, who really cares anymore if people know you've always kind of liked Backstreet Boys?

15. Related: You take up hobbies because you enjoy them, not because you think they’re cool.

Giving up listening to indie rock/going to live rock shows, and getting deeply interested in coffee instead, is the best thing I’ve ever done for myself.
@castle8id / Via instagram.com

Giving up listening to indie rock/going to live rock shows, and getting deeply interested in coffee instead, is the best thing I’ve ever done for myself.

16. You care way more about other people.

NBC / Via giphy.com

Getting your shit together little by little means you have more bandwidth for other people’s shit. I notice my friends’ and coworkers’ moods, keep track of what’s happening in their lives, and feel genuinely invested in supporting them. And they do the same for me. It's a pretty delightful arrangement we have.

In conclusion: Getting older is pretty alright.

Logo / Via tenor.com

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