It is with that spirit that I can say that I’m done with all the pretending. As a woman up to her knees in her 30s, I hereby announce the following:
1. I will no longer pretend that I’m young.
Age really is relative, isn’t it? No matter how many 80-year-olds point a finger at me and proclaim, “YOUTH,” there need only be one 20-something to remind me that I’m pretty much ancient. Go hang out with someone fresh out of college if you doubt me. They’ll be like, “Let’s do shots!” and you’ll be all, “Ugh, just a half a glass of wine, please, that’s all I can handle tonight.”
2. I will no longer pretend that I have to have a crummy job to get ahead.
When you are 23, working long hours in a job you only tolerate is OK because you have your entire life ahead of you. But now? Now, I won’t settle for anything less than “This makes me happy.” If it doesn’t give me a work-life balance, decent pay and managers who know what they are doing, then I’m out.
3. I will no longer pretend that those pants fit.
They don’t, and they look ridiculous on me. Next size up, here I come. Maybe two sizes up so I can eat a bucket of fried chicken while I enjoy the $&%* out of my new pants.
4. I will no longer pretend that the little things matter.
No, it’s really not the little things. If you screw up the big things, then the little things don’t mean anything. Make the big stuff count. If I can get to the little things, I do it, but I don’t beat myself up if I can’t. Being a mother taught me that. I feed, clothe, shelter and hug my children. If I can make moments special, I do, but I learned that any moment can be special without the fanfare of organic food, over-the-top birthday parties and expensive toys.
5. I will no longer pretend that love should be easy.
Pretty much every movie we ever saw lied to us. Happy endings take a lot of work. Marriage is hard, parenting is hard, having adult siblings with adult problems is hard, maintaining friendships over hundreds of miles is hard. Yes, I should be able to pick up the phone and call someone, but life quickly gets in the way. If I’m going to love people, I’m going to have to make an effort. Take the road trip, spend the money, book the date, make the call.
6. I will no longer pretend to know everything.
I used to nod along and offer up tidbits in conversations that maybe I’d heard from someone else. I was terrified to admit that I didn’t know something. I was even more terrified that something I believed was wrong. Not anymore. I ask the questions. I admit I’m wrong (well, sometimes). And I publicly embarrass myself by saying things like, “Well, I don’t really know much about David Bowie.”
7. I will no longer pretend that I’m OK when I’m not.
Maybe it was the way I was raised, or my pride, but I used to have a hard time saying, “I’m not doing well.” Now, I’m ready to scream it. When I need a break from the kids or time off work, I’m taking it. No apologies.
8. I will no longer pretend that other people’s opinion of me defines me.
I can’t help it if you don’t like me, my writing, my beliefs, my face, my body. Also, I don’t care if you don’t. This is me, and in my 30s, I’m the best version of myself I have ever been. I don’t need you to like me, because I finally like me.
Here’s to this decade of my life: May it be filled with laughter, love and the knowledge that it’s not all downhill from here unless I let it be.