As I watched the sun set on the last day of my twenties (yes, I seriously went out, wine glass in nostalgic hand, and watched the sun set) I took a moment to really wrap my head around what turning thirty really meant to me. Some may see it as a turning point, an extra wrinkle or gray hair and for some simply a number. At one time or another, I saw thirty as all of those things. Now, as I sit here hanging on to the last rung of ladder 29, I see thirty a little bit differently. Thirty was my mountain.
Climbing my “summit” has not been an easy one. Sherpa-less and ill-prepared, I’ve struggled to cover ground. I’ve been frost-bitten and snowed in more than I care to admit, but my mother would tell me it’s all to make me a stronger climber—and she’s right.
There are so many paths that I probably should have chosen more wisely. So many “local villagers” that I should have stoned instead of giving my heart to. So as I look back at my climb, there are a few traveling tips I would give myself. So, miss fifteen-year-old Amanda Jane, here are some guidebook bullets for you:
- Wear your Jnco Jeans, corduroy jacket and that vintage tuxedo blouse you found in mom’s closet. You WILL be made fun of time and time again but your fashion pioneering will pay off. You will “Bloom” soon enough. I can’t say the same for the girls who made fun of you…
- Your Grandpa will not live as long as you think he will. He will not dance with you at your wedding. He will not hold your first baby. Spend every chance you get to be with him and make sure he knows you love him as much as you do.
- I know you don’t want to hear this, but you will not be an architect. Stop taking so many CADD and drafting classes.
- Don’t try to beat up every unworthy floozy your younger brother tries to date. Let him have his fun. Let him get hurt. These lessons will help him discover what type of woman he truly needs in life. And rest assured he does finally find her.
- Your hot wing and beer diet is only good for another ten years. If you want to keep that size two waist (and I promise you that you do!) start cutting out the carbs and dairy sooner than later.
- On second thought, eat and drink whatever the hell you want. We’re a size two!
- Continue to keep your nose clean and skin un-inked. These are things you’ll never regret having not did.
- If a boy cheats on you, hits you or makes you feel constantly insignificant and alone, he does not love you. Don’t spend so many years of your life being convinced otherwise.
- Take technical English classes. Become a grammar and spelling queen. I know you don’t think so now, but just trust me on this one—it’s a career thing.
- Don’t take out so many student loans. Please.
- Although adorable, try not to wear so many pointed heels in your twenties. Oddly enough, they are not good for you and can “re-shape” who you are. Or at least who your feet are…
- All the girls that bully you to tears (both in high school and the few in college) do in fact become exactly what you hope for them to become. Take the hurt in stride and keep pushing to make something more of yourself.
- Don’t try that one cigarette when you’re 17 to prove to a bunch of kids you won’t cough. You will cough and then you’ll have to say you tried a disgusting cigarette. To this day I am SO mad at you for trying that one pride ruining cancer stick. SO mad!
- Wear your retainer. Do it.
- Your mom and dad are really good people. They’re ridiculously hard on you, but it’s because they love you more than anything in the world. They’d give up everything to see you have more than they ever had—and they do give up a lot for you. Give them some slack and tell them every single day how much you love them—because you really do.
I wish the fifteen-year-old me could take all of my advice above, but at the same time, it might have changed the horizon that I’m looking at right now. The view at thirty is a beautiful one, but I know it’s because I’ve stumbled countless times, gotten back up and worked so hard to get where I am today. Thirty isn’t exactly what I expected (OK, it’s nothing what I expected) but it ended up being everything I could ever hope for. I’m not scared, I’m taking wrinkle cream and I’m looking forward to the next climb in my life.