8 days til 30: on power tools, underwear, and abundance

Sometimes your life is so awesome in the weeks before you turn 30 that you forget to continue the revamped list of things every woman should maybe but totally doesn’t have to know & have by the time she’s 30. For the uninitiated: in 1997, Glamour magazine published its now-well-loved list of Thirty Things Every Woman Should Have & Should Know By The Time She’s Thirty. I’m looking to tackle items on the list every week until I blow out the candles on my own 30th birthday cake.

The list continues! By 30, every woman should have…

9. A résumé that is not even the slightest bit padded.

What, per se, is a padded resume? I’m picturing a curriculum vitae in a Victoria’s Secrets push up bra. Is this one of those things where you, say, chalk some loose babysitting gigs up into premiere childcare services, or fudge that time you spent $400 on Rosetta Stone software as profiency in French?

Maybe I’m spoiled, having eschewed any traditional career goals in the pursuit of being a writer. But by the time someone leaves their twenties, I think a good goal is to like your job, or, if you don’t like it, accept it. Know why you’re working that job. Maybe you bar tend so you can rehearse with your band twice a week. Maybe you landed at a sweet little graphic design firm right out of college and have been with them ever since. Maybe your resume reads like a tour of indecision. I’m hesitant to say too much on this subject, seeing as unemployment is currently apocalyptic and any job is a good one. But I think padding resumes is a weird ritual. How about this? Know what you’re good at, what you want to do, and what you want to learn. So you wanna become a pastry chef but you’ve been working in an office approving people for health insurance? Who cares! Scrap together the cash for a pastry class and see what happens. I’m a big fan of abundance.

10. One friend who always makes you laugh and one who lets you cry.

Just two? Why not a lot of good friends, with a diverse treasure chest of talents? There’s the friend who will always say yes to an impromptu beach trip; the friend who loves potlucks; the friend who always calls instead of texts; the friend who gives really sage advice when it comes to big life decisions. But laughing and crying is something I tend to need to be comfortable doing among all my really good friends. And if I’m sobbing over a break up or something, I’m gonna want a friend who can make me laugh, too.

11. A set of screwdrivers, a cordless drill, and a black lace bra.

Dear lord, Glamour. You had me until the obvious. Look: tools are awesome, but I’m gonna also offer the advice that you should know how to use them. Take it from a stubborn ass who has insisted for many years upon building her own Ikea furniture, installing her own air conditioner, and occasionally installing her own shelves. I may not own a cordless drill, but I certainly know which friends will lend me one.

As for the black lace bra, ugh. If a black lace bra makes you feel awesome, wear one, and wear it fiercely. If you prefer sports bras or bandeaus or cotton American Apparel bras in simple nude — go for it. The key, I think, is to take as many opportunities to look good for your own damn self as you might rummage for the matching underwear/bra on any night you might get some.

When I was twenty four, I was explaining to someone my reverse psychology underwear theory: if there was a chance of getting some, I would wear ugly underwear. If I wore my most awesome underwear, nothing would happen. The woman I was talking to was puzzled, saying she didn’t do that. “What do you do, then?” I asked.

“I don’t own any underwear I wouldn’t be caught dead in,” she said.

Huh. Interesting. It’s never on the front list of purchases for me, but every so often now, I pick up a few new pairs of underwear and toss out the old, baggy Hanes with the elastic showing. Not so much because I’m trying to impress someone, but because it’s good to feel awesome.

12. Something ridiculously expensive that you bought for yourself, just because you deserve it.

Materialism! Consumerism! Ack! Here, I think, is a better one. Know one rad thing you can do for yourself whenever you’re having a bad day, need a pick me up, or need to show yourself a little TLC. Maybe your thing is riding your skateboard aimlessly for a whole evening, taking a bath, blasting the soundtrack to Chicago and singing along, reading a trashy magazine, making gazpacho, or watching The Neverending Story in your underwear in bed. Whatever it is, it doesn’t have to be wildly expensive, as if dollar signs signal self-worth. My no-fail bad-day pick me up is a pretzel milkshake from Momofuku Milk Bar. (Highly recommended.)

13. The belief that you deserve it.

You deserve a lot of things, and not just that one expensive thing Glamour said you could splurge on. Here are some things that I’ve learned I deserve: fair pay for my services, respect for my ideas and my efforts, friends who make me feel good about myself, friends who believe in what I’m doing with my life, friends who inspire me, good food, romantic relationships that satisfy me emotionally, honesty from myself and others, good sex, self-care, gut busting laughter on a regular basis, to be heard, to be challenged, to be self-aware. I didn’t always believe I deserved these things, going into my 30s, I sure do.

14. A skin-care regimen, an exercise routine, and a plan for dealing with those few other facets of life that don’t get better after 30.

Yawn. Haven’t we talked enough about bodies and beauty and diets and make up and bullshit? There’s a study that says women who don’t concern themselves with make up and beauty when they’re young don’t think of themselves as ugly as they age. I’m a lot more responsible about sunscreen, and I have become the kind of organized adult who keeps many different kinds of chap stick in a hot pink pouch in my bag at all times. But otherwise? Exercise is awesome, but girl, you look fine just as you are. Moisturizer, I’m told by people from all walks of life, is a thing not to be compromised, but I’m still trying to get the hang of it (doesn’t it all just sweat off anyway?!). The best lesson of my twenties in this department is flossing. Flossing like whoa. Two trips to the NYU Dental Clinic set me straight on that one. My plan for the next decade? Floss, use sunscreen, learn how to do a breast self-examination, and ride my bike whenever the weather (and my back — there’s my getting older ailment, Glamour!) permits it.

15. A solid start on a satisfying career, a satisfying relationship, and all those other facets of life that do get better.

Ugh, for serious?! Thirty means you gotta have a grip on a career, a relationship, AND other facets of life? I think there’s so much more satisfaction in turning thirty with confidence in who you are and what you want, instead of your gig and your boo (it’s nice to have confidence in those things, too, no doubt.) But if exiting one’s twenties meant having your shit together? Please. You don’t need a career. You need money to pay the bills, and you need to like, if not love, what you do. You don’t need a relationship by the time you’re thirty. You should have a rad cast of friends who love you over and over again. You need to have faith in what you want and what you deserve, and keep an open heart to abundance, awesomeness, and, yes, love, if that’s what you’re after.

One of the most important lessons of my twenties, though, comes from a Dean Spade essay: treat your friends like lovers and your lovers like your friends. What I interpreted this to mean was that that crazy energy we sometimes save for romance–prioritizing time with our sweetie, going out of our way to do nice things for them, spending a whole weekend together–can be re-directed towards your friends. And your lovers–well, what would it do to cool down and greet them with an even keel and the warm knowledge that you don’t have to bend over backwards to impress them? Flipping the script has helped me keep my perspective when it comes to falling in love and loving your friends. It’s not picture perfect, but it’s a good start.

Tomorrow: By Thirty Every Woman Should Know…

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