As someone solidly in her mid to late thirties, I have seen some shit. I mean, I’m not old, but no one is bending over backwards to call me young. And it’s with that life experience that I thought I’d share things to do in your thirties. These aren’t mandatory, but I think you’ll definitely enjoy them.
Now, before we get too far into it, let me make a few disclaimers.
Firstly: The older I get, the less I know. Or really, the more I realize I don’t know as much as I thought. At our cores, we’re all still the same scared fifteen-year-olds we once were, and we’re just trying to figure stuff out. So you’re still this really vulnerable mess of a person, but you gotta act like you know what’s going on. But you don’t know shit, and the people who claim they do are all assholes.
Secondly: No one has the answers. Literally no one. And that includes me. But I do think I have some good ideas for how you can navigate this weird life where we seem to have lost all our elders to rightwing propaganda and our friends to pseudoscience. I mean, we can’t fix them. They don’t want to be fixed. But we can live our damn lives.
Thirdly: No one owes you a damn thing, okay? So live your fucking life.
Fourthly: If it ain’t yours, don’t carry it.
Fifthly: You’re supposed to be here.
Sixthly: You’re surviving a global pandemic, late stage capitalism, and a global far-right power grab. Under the circumstances, you’re doing great.
What Your Thirties Are
When it comes to what to expect in your 30s as a woman, we’ve been sold a very false bill of goods. There are a lot of people who think you should look very old at this point in your life, and maybe you should. If you want to.
But your girl is wearing high tops and mini skirts until the day she dies, so please know that I refuse to follow that advice.
One of the benefits of being in your 30s is getting comfortable with who you are. And not in the sense that you have marked off all the little to do list items to make yourself the person you want to be, but in the sense that you’ve thrown the do list away and decided that you don’t have to do it.
Your 30s are a time for soul-shaking revelations. One of the things you realize in your 30s is that everyone has lied to you your whole life and you’re basically going it alone.
This can be daunting, or it can be liberating. You don’t have to follow advice that doesn’t work or believe in a system or institution that’s actively crumbling. You can do whatever the hell you want.
What Your Thirties Are Not
Your 30s are not a time to go with the flow and do things for the sake of doing them. You don’t have to play the “30 things to do in your thirties” game. You can if you want, but you don’t have to perform your thirties like a BuzzFeed listicle full of fun activities that, at the end of the day, are meaningless.
Feeling lost in your 30s is normal. The generations before you weren’t existing under the same conditions, and they had access to things you don’t, like competitive wages and corporate oversight.
So, no. Your thirties aren’t this magical time where everything works out and your hard work pays off. I mean, your hard work will pay off. Just not in the ways you have been taught it will.
Your 30s are not a time for going with the flow or going through the motions. They are a time for figuring out exactly what you need and taking intentional action.
Things to Do in Your Thirties
This is not a list of crazy things to do in your 30s. It’s stuff you should do no matter what, whenever you want. No matter your age. But it’s especially relevant to your 30s because it’s time to combat some silly notions about how you should be living your life.
001: Start a new career.
You’re not too old to try something new. Quit saying that.
It’s easier to start something new now than it will be ten years down the road. And that goes for any age. Leave bad jobs. Do what you want. Try new things until you find what you want to do.
You never owe a company more years of your life. Ever.
002: Wear whatever the hell you want.
There is no dress code for your thirties. Wear the clothes you like.
The only reason you think there is a specific way to dress for your age is because previous generations wanted to look old as fuck with their janky blue eyeshadow and ridiculous perm-induced bouffants.
You do not have to follow their example. Responsible pantsuits and sensible heels do not have to be part of your future.
003: Fix your sleep schedule.
Get more sleep. You’ll be a better person overall.
Partying all night or leaning into that hustle culture work schedule is not conducive to productivity, your mental health, or your physical health.
Figure out what your routine needs to look like for a good night’s sleep. Make it happen. Adhere to it. This is your life now.
004: Do the things you love.
You don’t have to have shit all figured out, and you don’t have to do shit just because it makes money.
You can have hobbies, and they can be whatever you want them to be. If you enjoy it, that’s enough of a reason to do it.
005: Burn bridges that need to be burnt.
Get rid of attachments and entanglements that no longer serve you. Do you have to ask if that relationship is worth it? Then it’s probably not.
006: Prioritize your health.
I said health. Not fad diets. Not trying to look skinny. Health.
Work out in a way that feels good and that you enjoy. Eat foods that make you feel good regardless of whether or not they fit in with whatever fad diet you just heard about.
007: Reclaim stuff you love.
I used to love a very specific band a lot, but all their songs reminded me of a person who it took me way too long to realize was really toxic. I know this person is on their own path to being better and I am no longer in touch with them, but still. The songs make me think of bad times.
I’m slowly trying to listen to that band more and more and make new memories of them.
008: Get political.
Thirty is firmly in the realm of full-grown adult. You are a part of the world and you’re building it for future generations. We are where we are right now because people refuse to vote.
If you are of legal voting age and can register to vote, do it. There are so many people in the U.S. who make it a priority even though they live in gerrymandered districts and their precincts engage in voter suppression.
Voting is literally the bare minimum.
009: Do what you want, not what you think you should want.
I hate climbing corporate ladders and I don’t like conspicuous consumption. I don’t do those things, even though I’ve been told they’re good.
Do whatever you want. And if you think you want something, take a moment to reflect and figure out if you actually want it.
010: Host dinners and gatherings.
Entertaining is actually fun, and you can do it in a way that makes sense to you. It doesn’t have to be a four-course meal. Make a bunch of food, set it out, and let people graze as soon as they arrive.
Add music and board games or an area where people can converse and you’ve got yourself a party.
011: Treat yourself.
Buy yourself something nice whenever you want. Get a coffee. Order new underwear. Find the most comfortable pair of sneakers you can live in.
012: Research that degree program you’re obsessed with.
Am I actively researching a Ph.D. program in depth psychology with a specialization in Jungian psychology and archetypal studies? Yes. Of course I am.
I don’t know if it will ever happen, but if I can make it happen, I’ll be ready.
Whatever topic lights you up is game. Find out what the pros are studying. See the resources and texts they use. Maybe start doing a bit of the work on your own…
013: Spend time with the people who matter.
You know who they are. That’s who you should spend time with.
014: Do the thing you’ve always wanted to do but have been too scared to try.
Show up and do it. Yeah, it’s scary, but once you mastered it, it’s not scary anymore. Back in 2019 I decided I was going to get into public speaking. I did six whole talks that year! Now, I love public speaking.
Try whatever you want. I promise you feel like a badass when you’re done.
What Should People Do in Their Thirties?
What’s one thing you did in your thirties that changed your life? What do you think everyone should try in their thirties?