Back in 1997, Glamour magazine published a story titled “30 Things Every Woman Should Have and Should Know by the Time She’s 30.” Written by Pamela Redmond Satran, the list was so popular that it was wrongly attributed to all sorts of scholarly women from Maya Angelou to Hillary Clinton. The list has been kicking around and quoted widely since that time so Glamour decided to turn it into a book featuring essays on each of the items on the list. Here is Part Two of the list – what you should KNOW by the time you are thirty – with TGATP‘s thoughts and advice.
By 30, you should know …
1. How to fall in love without losing yourself.
Ahhh. This is so important. I fell in Love with someone at 25 that totally threw me off track for more than a decade! After giving up everything for four years for this man, including the completion of my law degree, I left him when he wouldn’t commit. And of course, he married the very next one! It took years to completely recover emotionally and financially from this totally insane immersion of self into someone else. Losing yourself to the wrong one can make your whole Life take a different path. LOVE freely but do not lose your mind. Give your heart, not your Soul.
2. How you feel about having kids.
I don’t necessarily agree with this. Because often it is not till much later that your clock ticks. So if you do want biological kids, don’t wait too long. Your body won’t be your fertile friend forever and IVF is only for the well off. But if you do wait, there are plenty of kids that need a loving Mom. And I think that older Moms are often better Moms because they are just more patient and thankful for the blessing of a child. My clock didn’t tick till my forties and the recent loss of my beloved Mom, who was my only family, has made me want to raise a child even more. So I am exploring adoption or fostering a child. Children are always a blessing and will always need Love whether they share your genes or not.
3. How to quit a job, break up with a man, and confront a friend without ruining the friendship.
In this age of a lack of integrity, these are all very important. I am far better at the first two. I have stayed friends with all my exes, except the one that was hot in bed but not such a nice guy, who I now refer to as “Lifetime Movie Man.” This Brad-Pitt lookalike, who was seven years younger than me, even CRIED when he asked me to only see him. LMM was a big sweetheart for two years. But he then out-of-the-blue dumped me and basically told me that I would get over it! I know what you are thinking. Yes, some mad fool actually dumped That Girl At The Party! But everyone has that one. As Madonna was recently quoted, “”Power is being told you aren’t loved and not being destroyed by it. Other than this one, I still speak to every other significant Man in my Life and that was his bad choice, as I make an awesome ex! I’m like Addy Ross in “A Letter To Three Wives” as an ex – the gal the dude still remembers fondly and his current squeeze feels she has to live up to, but is friends with. Only I wouldn’t run off with your Man. ‘Cause if I had really wanted him, YOU wouldn’t be in the picture to begin with!
4. When to try harder and when to walk away.
Oh, to have learned this earlier! I have held on to people, places, and things wellllll past their sell-by-date for most of my Life! This is a pattern that I am currently working out in therapy as it started as a child! My first BFF was a freckle-faced red head, who we will call Sara. Sara and I were inseparable and she was that rare case (at the time) of a girl, who excelled in mathematics, the one course I was lousy in. Sara and I were bosom except that she could never have a play date at my house. My Mom always had to drive me to hers. In high school, she became somewhat off and I couldn’t figure out why. Well it turned out that she came from a racist family, who didn’t approve of her friendship with this little brown girl and would never allow her to go to a play date in a brown family’s home! It was only years later that my Mom revealed what was up. And bless my Divine Mother’s heart for shielding me from that poison. There have been dozens more since Sara from obvious frenemies to hot, but unstable, men to bad living situations to dead-end jobs – I have stayed the unnecessary course and emotionally hoarded for years. But the great thing about that is I can now tell you…DON’T DO IT!
Your gut is your most vital asset. Use it. It will never ever steer you wrong. If it doesn’t feel right or good, then walk away from it. Man, Woman, Friend, business deal, job, apartment – walk away if it is not feeling right. Your highest calling is to be happy. Walk away if you are not…no, in fact, run away!
5. How to kiss in a way that communicates perfectly what you would and wouldn’t like to happen next.
By 30? You should know this by 12! With so many teens already sexually active, one would hope that this is established long before 30.
6. The names of the secretary of state, your great-grandmothers, and the best tailor in town.
I’m half good here. Of course, I know Hillary Clinton and I know one of my maternal great-grandmother’s names because I plan to name a daughter after her. As for the best tailor, try to find stuff that fits right in the first place to avoid this added expense. But if you really need one, I always feel the best tailor is the cheapest one closest to your apt. These are budget conscious times and I have an apartment full of clothes. So I can’t afford ridiculous amounts on tailoring. And make sure he knows you live close enough to ruin his business with your neighbors if he jacks your hem up! I had a wonderful guy in Williamsburg, who only charged $4 and $5 for hemming pants and sleeves. Unfortunately, we both got recently priced out of the nabe, so will have to see what is available where I currently reside.
7. How to live alone, even if you don’t like to.
There is no better way to reach your true potential than living alone for a spell. Since where you go in Life is so determined by the energy you emit and the energy you allow into your space, it is so vital that you spend tons of time alone in a positive state. Only you can create that state. In the words of Don Miquel Ruiz, the author of a book I highly recommend, “The Four Agreements”, each one of us has a very different movie of our lives going on and we have cast each other in various supporting roles. But often times the role you are playing in someone else’s Life movie is not the one you are actually living in your own. This can cause all kinds of chaos in your Life as it can create fear and limitation, and ultimately, keep you from your own destiny. It is only by living and spending good chunks of time alone that you can actually know who you really are without the many casting calls of others. Who are YOU, what do YOU like, what makes YOU really happy, what do YOU really want out of Life? When we live in the constant presence of family, friends, and our significant others, it is often hard to answer those vital questions amidst the chatter of their desires and beliefs for us. I personally have lived alone most of my adult life and LOVE it! Even in relationships, I prefer my own place. I have always maintained that when I get married, we will have to have separate wings of the same house and meet in the middle. I LOVE male company but not 24-7!
Moreover turn your abode into a temple to relaxation and fun. My house is like a spa. I have Homedic massagers, sound spas, a NuFace, a Glo teeth whitener, a Clarisonic Opal and Sonic Cleansing system, a tanning machine, state of the art stereo systems, gaming systems, an array of Aromatics (loving the new ones from Intelligent Nutrirents) and all manner of toys and gadgets to make staying at home a welcome respite from my hectic city Life. If you are on a budget, just add one item every couple months as these things are all built to last. Believe me, when you are soaking in a nice tub with beautiful products on your face, lavish conditioners in your hair, a wonderful scented candle burning and wafting and some relaxing music playing, you are not going to miss having anyone else around!
And finally, if you really can’t go it totally alone. Rescue a cat or dog. They add the right positive energy to your environment with their wonderful unconditional love and wacky senses of humor! Living with Dinah Washington Cat has never felt like living alone!
8. Where to go — be it your best friend’s kitchen table or a yoga mat — when your soul needs soothing.
I disagree with this. Nothing outward can sooth the Soul. Where to go is – INWARD. Try to meditate for at least 10 minutes at the beginning of every day and 10 minutes at the end. The silence and focus will provide you with much needed peace and balance.
9. That you can’t change the length of your legs, the width of your hips, or the nature of your parents.
This one is a bit off. A good pair of Christian Louboutin, or even hi-wedge Aerosoles, can make those legs go on forever! And diet and exercise with a bit of lipo thrown in can make those hips skinnier! As for the nature of your parents, I agree. My father was a mean, non-supportive bear of a manchild and, at 90, is even more so! The good news is you don’t have to put up with it once you are grown.
DO try to resolve any issues you have with a parent though. But if you can’t, realize that they are merely the vessels through which you came into this Life. If you are lucky to have a great one like my Mom was, then that’s icing. But if not, then don’t sweat it.
10. That your childhood may not have been perfect, but it’s over.
True. But this is often easier said than done especially for folks, who had real traumatic abusive things happen as children. So I am not one to just flippantly say “get over it”. There are many factors here and each individual experiences and processes childhood differently. For example, most adults with addictions, sex workers, and many domestic violence victims and perpetrators had something horrible happen in childhood. They are still keeping these childhood pains in hiding and, like the alien in “Alien” or the thing in “The Thing”, it is taking them over. So it is not really over lickedty-split for them. Often we are not even really looking at that person, rather we are seeing the adult manifestation of their childhood pain. But the good news is that once they realize that it CAN be over, they will be able to better start the healing process towards it ACTUALLY being over.
11. What you would and wouldn’t do for money or love.
What I would do, everything but murder, enslave, maim, or harm another living being, emotionally, financially, or physically. What I wouldn’t do, murder, enslave, maim, or harm another being, emotionally, financially, or physically.
12. That nobody gets away with smoking, drinking, doing drugs, or not flossing for very long.
Too too true! Having smoked for 22 years, drank for 30, and not being a great flosser till being gifted with my beloved Soniccare Air Floss (hey guys, need another, lost it in the move!), I can definitely say that I wish I hadn’t done all that. I am now that annoying entity I used to avoid – the former smoker, who is ardently against smoking and that former heavy drinker who is ardently pro-teetotalism. I guess having come out of the other side of the hold those two demons had on me, I just really want people to live as happy as I do now. Imagine a Life of never feeling sick in the morning from the night before. Of never waking up wondering how you got home and who you came home with. And being able to breath really clearly and not having to go on those middle of the night bodega runs for cigarettes. Or spend so much time away from the dinner table because the demon stick was beckoning you to go outside and smoke. Or running out in the snow to get them. Or actually skitising on a plane and having to leave the airport and go through security a second time because you had to have a puff! I actually did all of this, Life is so much better without either of these monsters on my back.
13. Who you can trust, who you can’t, and why you shouldn’t take it personally.
For me this is the most important thing on the list and YES, you should TAKE IT VERY PERSONALLY! In my Lifespan, not knowing who to trust made me a victim of two attempted rapes, almost forced me into homelessness, landed me in therapy, cost me a TV deal on a show I created, allowed frenemies to hide in plain sight, allowed people to steal from me, and cost me tons and tons of money! So DO TAKE it personally, lest it COST you personally!
Make sure you really vet every single person you call a friend or an intimate of any sort including family members. Because YEARS can pass before an emergency arises, where you need help, and you find out that none of the people you CALL friends or family ARE friends or family. Cultivate what I call “couch friends”, folks you can count on in a true emergency (this is especially important if you are single). Folks that will open their homes to you, should you need temporary shelter. I was recently priced out of my apartment – a very common NY experience. But I was shocked to find that those I considered closest to me were unwilling to offer me space while I searched for another spot. It worked itself out, in what can only be called, a Godly miracle. But not without a serious friendship wake-up call. Obviously, none of those former friends are going on this year’s Christmas list!
Moreover, true friends are folks that will not judge you should you trip in Life. Folks who leave you uplifted after you speak to them. Folks that you can trust to run your business ideas by without them trying to steal them. Folks who do not covet your belongings. Folks who do not go after your boyfriends. Folks who are happy with their own lives and are not trying to be you. (I’ve had a TON of these and it is always a creepy thing. One gal even went out and bought my entire wardrobe! Another took all the classes I took as a child – violin, photography, and went into every profession I did! Naturally, she now has a blog!) Because if these are not the sort of people you have around you, then they are not friends. Every captain needs a good crew or the ship will sink. Know the difference between an acquaintance and a true friend.
And make sure you are not compensating for the people around you and they are not figments of your imagination. Remember you are casting your own movie. Are the people right for their roles? Should some of them be left on the cutting room floor? Recently someone I once called my BFF, who I have known for more than 20 years (she even lived with my family for four of them) revealed that she had been secretly harboring grudges from almost the minute we met. Imagine trusting someone, who was secretly hating on you for more than 20 YEARS! Imagine hundreds of your most intimate conversations being filtered through the eyes of someone, who is secretly judging and storing your every word. While this is an extreme case, it is in no way unusual. Many of you have people around you, that you know in your gut, you shouldn’t.
If I quote Maya Angelou once, I can quote her a zillion times on this. “Once someone shows you who they are. BELIEVE them, the FIRST TIME!” I knew back then this woman had major issues and she had never displayed any discernible growth. Why was I surprised that she simply grew older with the same major problems? Your real friends will love you just the way you are, support you when you are down, celebrate your victories and milestones, and are sympathetic when you fail. They will not judge, abandon, covet, harbor negative feeling, steal from or copy you. I know this seems obvious. But many of us, put up with far more than we should in so-called friends.
On the associate side, TRUST YOUR GUT. If it feels wrong, it IS wrong. Do not do any deals with people, you don’t feel 100% with. I was once forced by a shady lawyer/agent into a deal that I knew in my gut was wrong. And guess what? Six months later, the project was stolen. It was highway robbery with the lawyer/agent driving the stagecoach! The head and the heart may falter. But the gut is never wrong.
14. Not to apologize for something that isn’t your fault.
I disagree here. If it is very petty, sometimes it it better to put your ego aside and apologize just to shut the person up. But no, do not make this a practice as it will lead to low self-esteem. I would also add, stand up for yourself to this and expect the best.
15. Why they say life begins at 30.
This is incorrect. Life ACTUALLY starts at 40. Your thirties are marred by that last mad dash to achieve Superwoman status. You’re trying to build your career, get married, and have those perfect kids! By forty, if you are mentally healthy, you start to accept who you really are and become more comfortable in your own skin. But then with people saying that “40 is the new 30″ perhaps 50 is the real year that Life begins.