The Healthyish Guide to Your 30s

The Healthyish Guide to Your 30s

June 12, 2019 Off By readly

Every time I sat down to write this introduction, I laughed. Me? Introduce the Healthyish Guide to Your 30s? I’m less than a third of the way into this weird, wild decade, and my life feels like barely contained chaos. At least I’m not alone: A lot of my thirtysomething friends feel the same, whether they’re single or coupled or otherwise, with a six-figure salary or $600 in the bank, two kids or two dead houseplants. It’s like we all heaved a sigh of relief at the end of our 20s, only to realize with horror that the next decade wasn’t going to be any easier, and actually, in some ways, it was going to be harder. Sure, we may know ourselves better and all that stuff we tell ourselves, but everything around us is going to keep changing—we’re going to keep changing—and are we always going to feel like we’re just catching up?

I thought 32 would be the year that everything fell into place, because, well, things were falling into place. Ever since I turned 30, I’d felt a sort of settling happening, which seemed right according to societal expectations and most rom coms. I loved my job, my partner, my best friends, and I loved New York. I ran my first 10K on my birthday, a longtime goal. I finally figured out how to like my hair, not to mention the rest of my body. I discovered Crest White Strips! For the first time in my life, I had enough money to not have to worry every week of every month. The rest of the decade stretched ahead, a road paved with possibility and good hair days, and I thought I saw where it would lead.

You know what happens next. Okay, it didn’t all go wrong. And not so much “wrong” as very much not the way I expected. Six months after my 32nd birthday, I’d lost two best friends to jobs in other cities, my relationship fell out from under me, I got a back injury from running, had a bad health scare, and—after an expensive move—found myself back in a financial hole.

I did all the things that needed to be done. I hired the movers, bought the furniture, made the doctors’ appointments, found the therapist, paid the credit card bills, did the yoga, got myself to work, and cried, cried, cried like everyone told me I would. And then, after the basic logistics were handled and it was just me and the tears, I decided to have a ridiculously impulsive, borderline irresponsible good time.

One could call it a bender, but I prefer to call it grown-up fun. Grown-up fun is fun you don’t think you should be having because no one is telling you it’s okay. When we were kids, adults were constantly telling us to go play. In college, they told us to explore. In our 20s, they loved reminding us not to worry, have fun, we’ll figure it out! But the minute we turned 30, people stopped telling us to have fun. In our 30s, we’re supposed to be done exploring. In our 30s, fun is to be planned and budgeted for (that weekend upstate, that Saturday dinner party) or else it’s something to feel guilty about the next day (that second bottle of wine, that extra hour of Big Little Lies when you should’ve been sleeping).

Grown-up fun, on the other hand, is no-regret, impulsive, and unrestricted fun. For me, it’s involved a lot of dancing, biking, kissing, lying in parks, feeding people, being fed, late nights into mornings, new friends, fresh flowers, ice cream cones, cannabis, so much music, and other things I don’t need my mom to know. None of it has been a miracle cure; a lot of it has been distraction. But each time I choose grown-up fun, it makes me a little happier, and over time I found that I was happy nearly as often, then equally often, then much more often than I was sad.

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