Upon revealing that he was in his early 30's, the 20-something wrinkled her nose in disgust.
"Oh my god! What's it like to be in your 30's?" she asked, wide-eyed with horror.
My wise friend responded, "It's like being in your 20's...but with money."
As our group of friends listened to my buddy relay this story, we laughed at his witty response. This was about 5 years ago when were just discovering that the 30's are a fabulous age. Still basking in a youthful glow, we hadn't yet developed crow's feet, sleep disorders, or joint pain.
Now that 40 is on the horizon, I'm attempting to embrace my age and all the positive aspects associated with becoming a mature adult...stability, solid friendships, and self-identity. When I look back on my early 20's, I have fond memories of partying, studying, and....well...partying. As I peruse old journals where I faithfully entered my daily dramas, I see excerpts riddled with exclamation marks: "This test is going to be so brutal! I need to study all weekend!" "I got so wasted last night!" and "Evan didn't call me today. I am so pissed!" Gosh. My world was small. It's interesting how priorities shift with age.
I've created a list of things that, although were not on my radar in my 20's, now top my list of adulting priorities as I near the big four oh!
In my 20's, sleep was not a priority. I crawled out of clubs sweaty and inebriated and crashed on friends' couches, I spent the odd night in the fetal position rolled in a towel on my bathroom floor, and I may have slept on a pontoon boat in a marina once. Who cares? I can sleep when I'm dead. When I did actually sleep in my own bed, not only were clean sheets not a priority, but sheets in general were not a necessity.
|This will do|
At this time in my life, sleep tops my list of adulting priorities. I have transformed my bedroom into a zen-like oasis where peace and serenity are of utmost importance. I begin to set the mood about a half an hour before I intend to fall asleep. I fill my diffuser with essential oils that promise "relaxation," turn down my expensive sheets specifically designed for tropical climates, and slather myself with Japanese Cherry Blossom lotion. If I do venture out for an evening (whoa!), I ensure that I have received adequate hydration before turning in, and am generally in bed before midnight. Upon awakening, I quickly calculate the total hours of sleep achieved and am filled with pride and contentment. I did it. I slept blissfully through the night.
|You will go to sleep or I will put you to sleep!|
In my 20's, I ingested my fair share of alcoholic beverages with 2 main goals: 1) To spend as little money as possible and 2) To get drunk as quickly as possible. Does anyone remember the term, "pre-drinking?" Before heading out to a club, the goal was to consume as much alcohol as possible to avoid dipping into the tuition account for booze. When someone asked what my drink of choice was, I replied, "whatever is on special!" Rum, vodka, wine (if you can call a $5 bottle of Strawberry Angel "wine"), whatever! Occasionally, the glowing neon green "vodka special" was even on special! Our little University house never contained a liquor cabinet because we drank with a purpose - to finish the booze...and fast!
|Jose Cuervo you are a friend of mine...|
|Adulting 101: notice how George's Tequila has taken a beating|
Cleanliness is next to Godliness. That is, unless you are a 21 year old University student in the midst of final exams. My roommate, J, and I (I promise to maintain your anonymity, Janna), lived together for 4 years during our University career. Most of our 4 years were spent in a sweet old house just off of Whyte Ave in Edmonton. I loved living with J. She was, and still is, one of my closest friends. We laughed together, we cried together, we danced together, and we avoided cleaning together. For the most part, we were able to keep our little old house tidy, but we both shared an intense displeasure of washing dishes. Our little old house did not contain a dishwasher, so we took turns washing the dishes - typically every few days once they began piling up. During one very challenging final exam period, we lost track of the dish washing schedule. Instead of determining whose turn it was or - brainwave! - just doing the dishes together, we simply closed the door to the kitchen and carried on with life. We fixed the glitch. When weeks had gone by and we had resorted to using the same utensil, plate, and glass for each and every meal, we realized that we had let this go on for too long. It was time. By that point, month old spaghetti sauce and Kraft Dinner cheese had become one with the unwashed plates. Screw the pot scrubber...we needed a sledgehammer! I cringe when I remember how disgusting that was.
I am not too proud to admit that today I enlist the help of Debbie. Debbie is a fantastic lady from Jamaica whom we hired 3 years ago. Debbie comes to our house every Sunday and magically transforms our house into a sparkling Mr. Clean commercial. We love Debbie. I feel no shame. End of story.
4) My Health
Working out and/or watching my diet never occurred to me until I turned 20 years old and realized that my love of vodka paralyzers and late night Boston Pizza had caught up to my waistline. I abruptly purchased the cheapest gym membership that I could find (thank you, Spa Lady!) and diligently focused on my 3 problem areas: tummy, butt, and thighs. Screw the upper body and cardio - my sole purpose of working out and watching my diet was to look good. Although I had learned about the body systems in school, I did not give a care how my circulatory, musculature, skeletal, cardiovascular, blah blah blah systems were operating.
Fast forward to life in my 30's. Gravity has kicked my ass. Literally. My rear end (what's left of it) appears to be closer to my knees than to my back. Speaking of knees, you can imagine that my sole purpose of working out (Let's just call it what it is - physiotherapy), is to keep my body functioning "normally." I now enter the gym with a mission...to strengthen my muscles so that I can walk without crutches for as long as possible.
Likewise, I presently focus much more attention to my mental and emotional health than I did in my former life. In my 20's, I considered eating a bag of chips whilst watching Part of Five a boost to my mental health. Today, I treat myself to a list of services including regular massages, pedicures, hair highlights, and facials. These indulges were way out of my University life budget in my 20's.
During my college days, reading was full-time job. I recall scowling at the University bookstore employee as I charged thousands of dollars worth of textbooks to my over-used credit card. Professors assured us that someday these textbooks would be useful in our chosen career. However, I assure you that "Graphical, Numerical, and Algebraic Calculus" has not been cracked since December 12, 1999 (the night before the final exam). From age 18 to 25, reading was a chore rather than a recreational event. The purpose of reading was to simply acquire information, ace a test, obtain a degree, and receive a steady pay check. Done.
Today I absolutely love to read. As I immerse myself in a new plot and character, I can temporarily escape reality. Who doesn't want to escape reality from time to time? My argument is this: because the books assisted me in achieving my career, I am entitled to spend an unlimited amount of my salary on books. I am Amazon's #1 customer, clicking "buy" on my kindle with reckless abandon. Why? Because I am a mature adult and have earned the right, dammit!
So, you see my friends, things have changed. I've developed into a mature adult who enjoys sleeping, Cointreau, exercising, and reading. Although my 20 year old self may have rolled her eyes at my list, accusing me of being boring and cliche, I am relieved that the days of Kraft Dinner, subpar sleeps, and vodka specials are waaaay in the past.
Cheers to embracing your 30's with fine wine, fancy sheets, and unlimited books...and maybe some 90's music ;)