I’ve turned 30 this year, alongside a lot of people around me, and like all big milestones, breaching the boundaries of your forgiving 20s and entering your decidedly adult 30s makes you reflect. I say reflect, but I mean panic and internally scream, “What have I done with my life?!”
Granted, not everyone feels like this (or at least they wouldn’t admit it to me), but as we are part of the generation that was asked as kids, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” and which then took the longest time any generation ever has to actually grow up, the pitfalls are large. Five-year-old me would have said that by 30, I would own a big house on the beach and a penthouse apartment in the city, have two kids, a husband, an amazing wardrobe, and a ground-breaking career – the kind of life magazines would interview me about to find out what I was like as a kid because they’d want to share how people should groom their kids to be as successful as me. I’m not joking; I distinctly remember practicing my interview answers.
As it is, I’m 30 and have just one of the things my child-self anticipated. Maybe half of two others, if I’m being generous to myself. The 5-year-old me set 30-year-old me up to fail. I might not have the fame, fortune, and material things of childhood musings, or even many of the things on zeitgeisty bucket lists of before-30 musts, but I can do sh*t.
Surely, if we’re going to start measuring our success, it should be in our capabilities as 30-year-olds rather than what we’ve ticked off, right? So here’s a new before-30 list. One of everything you should be able to do, and be proud of being able to do, when you hit the big 3-0.
- Stick to a Budget
If you can do this, no one can tell you you’re immature.
- File Your Taxes
Again, a woman with her finances sorted is a boss.
- Change a Tire
A skill that will get you out of a tight situation.
- Ask For a Promotion
Because confident women know their worth.
- Cook a Meal
For friends, for family, for your spouse – you can do this.
- Support a Friend in Need
More important than having backpacked across Europe, being able to be there for someone and help them is a valuable life skill.
- Confidently Manage Small Talk
Whether to get you through a work function or make new friends, small talk is something that also helps you include others. You won’t always be the new kid, but someone will.
- Care For a Tiny Human
By 30, you want to be the kind of responsible person a friend can confidently ask to help them out, including taking care of their baby (or fur baby).
- Manage Your Insurance
You don’t have to be an expert, but having insurance and knowing what you’re covered for is important.
- Renegotiate a Debt
If you’ve landed yourself in an undesirable financial situation, know how to get help and work your way out of it. Note: this doesn’t involve asking your parents.
- Mix a Cocktail
Your 20s definitely taught you how to drink them, but to be a good hostess, you should also know how to mix them.
- Go Unplugged For a Weekend
Your wellness is important, and you should feel confident that turning off your phone for 48 hours isn’t going to ruin your life, or anyone else’s.
- Travel Overseas Solo
Maybe you haven’t done it yet, but at least know that you can.
- Write a Thank-You Card
Expressing gratitude is a true skill and one that makes the world a better place.
- Do Your Laundry
Sans the help of Mom and Dad.
- Troubleshoot Technology
If you don’t know how to fix it, you should know how to find out how to fix it.
- Write a Résumé That Gets You Hired
Up there with one of the most important abilities you can have.
- Be Someone’s In-Case-of-Emergency Contact
This is something you can be proud of.
- Care For Someone Who Is Sick
Being able to put your own stuff aside and focus on someone else is only for grown-ups.
- Keep Up to Date With Medical Appointments
You know your body is important, and keeping it healthy is priority number one.
- Say No
Knowing your capabilities and not overcommitting is important.
- Keep Plans With Friends
We are generation “bail,” but you want to be the kind of person who honors their commitments.