As I round out the end of my 30s and all of its unique glories, challenges, and triumphs, it dawns on me that so every often I feel like I am 25 still. It's as if I forget my own age. But there is one thing that makes me uniquely different from 25, and it's not just my biological age, but all the wisdom and the self-esteem that started from life lessons in my 20s and headed into all the glory and heartache of my 30s. I am a very social person, and so I find myself often out people watching, and I see all you lovely, beautiful, sweet, and unsure 20-somethings and I want to grab a chair and pull you over so I can share to you what I know in hopes that it will help you as you venture into adult female life!
1. Don't Rush to Get Married or Worry About Getting Married Because You Think It's What You're Supposed to Be Doing.
A lot of your friends toward the midpoint and end of their 20s will start to seriously couple off, whether it's getting engaged or moving in. If you're single, you might start to panic and worry that you won't meet someone. Stop it! Let me share an old saying my mother used to say, "If everyone jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge, Laura, would you do it, too?"
My answer was "no" or "yes" if I was being fresh, but the point is, don't panic. Meeting the right someone with the right values and life goals, whenever that may happen, is more important than meeting anyone with anything to offer in order to marry at a socially acceptable age, or when your friends may start to marry off. I truly loved my ex-husband, but I also felt very worried I would never marry prior to meeting him. As much as I loved him, there were red flags I ignored probably because of my love for him and also because I was needy and worried about ending up alone.
Moral of this story: take your time. Enjoy life! The right one will come in time.
2. You Are WAY More Beautiful Than You Know.
I have this photo of me in a bikini at age 28. Wow! I was smoking hot! That body is actually pretty much the same, minus some skin changes from pregnancy. When I was 22, 25, and 28 I didn't think I was sexy enough. At 32, 35, and 38 I still didn't think I was sexy enough. When does this end? Let it end for you today. I bet when I am 50 I will look back at me today and think, "Damn — I looked good!" Yet here I am, hard on myself. And there I was at 22, 25, and 28, hard on myself. I was never good enough.
Moral of this body-image story? You are great. I see you all in bars and you're gorgeous. Whether you're skinny or thick, short or tall, all of you are perfectly lovely. Believe it, own it, and start to love yourself today because we all get old and there is nothing more timeless or sexier than someone who loves her body.
3. Travel Now!
Now that I am a mom of one, I can still travel — anyone can, even with many kids — but it's harder to really see the world when you have more than one person to pay for and that person has a school schedule. Not that it's impossible, but . . . travel now! See the world. Get a different perspective. Go places you dreamed of. Skip out on pricey clothes, gadgets, and beauty items and save your pennies for experiences. Not just travel ones, but life experiences with friends and family. Relish in your singlehood!
4. If He Doesn't Want to Commit, He Never Will.
Do you know what happened to all the hot and not-so hot bachelor types I met in my 20s? Ninety percent of them are still single in their 30s and 40s. A handful got married. Some of whom I question how long the relationship will last.
If there's a guy you have been chasing after or dating and he's wishy-washy about commitment and never seems to have a long-term relationship (or a faithful one at that), let him be the one who got away because, guess what? You want him to go good and far away. He will never change. Don't waste your time, tears or energy on this clown. He will be a bachelor for life. I promise.
5. Take Career Chances.
Work for little (not unsustainably little) and be hungry for work. If you have a passion and you want to pursue it, do it, especially if it's creative! Don't wait years down the line and think, "What would have happened?"
In my 20s and 30s, I have acted, done television, stand-up, and numerous writing pieces — all were things I have dreamed about since I was a kid. This is one thing I am so glad I did. I wished I had gone out to LA, however, and never did. That's one career move I regret not making. I am glad though I have made money doing creative things I dreamt of since childhood because I took chances. Take them. Do them now while the risk is much lower and there are no mouths to feed or another partner or being to consider.
6. Cherish Those Female Friendships.
You may have wonderful male best friends but, those female friends will be the one wiping your tears at every age and stage of the rest of your life. When I miscarried, divorced, and had a difficult pregnancy my guy friends were there but my women friends were present. This means they're the ones who will be propping you up and cheering you on every second. Cherish them. If you have toxic friends, dump them now. If you tend to avoid having female friends, quit it! Be secure and confident and you will find other secure and confident female friends.
To all of you ladies in your 20s — enjoy these awkward and beautiful moments and look forward to your 30s. They're fabulous!