Welcome to the best decade of your life! Unless you’re 35.
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This is the age at which you question everything tangentially related to the meaning of life. “Fuck, I’m not married yet” or “Fuck, why the hell did I get married so early?” might be running through your head, for instance. It’s a milestone age of sorts: You’re wondering why you’re not the boss yet, why you haven’t started that novel yet, and why you’re nowhere near as put-together as your parents were at your age. The upside? You’re questioning everything because you are much more aware of what you really want out of life, and, maybe, you’re more likely to really work for what you want out of life. (Bonus: You can officially run for president at 35, if that’s your thing.)
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Welp. You’re almost 40, so, yeah. Sorry. It’s like the panic attack you had about turning 30 all over again, except now you have twice as many gray hairs and use wrinkle cream on a daily basis and maybe have a kid or a dog to look after. “How did this even HAPPEN?!?!” you ask yourself, out loud, in the mirror every morning. Maybe every night. The good news is, unlike turning 30, you’re probably ready to get on with your forties (at least so you can stop hearing the old-person jokes). Also, you probably still have half your life to live (or more, if you live in Switzerland or Japan), so there’s that.
OK, let’s be real: You’re actually 30 for, like, three years, because you’ve been preparing for/freaking out about this age since you hit your mid-twenties. Get over it, you lil weenie! If it weren’t for 90% of people sending themselves into a goddamn tizzy all because there’s a “3” in front of their age now, 30 would easily be No. 1 BECAUSE BEING 30 IS AWESOME. Too bad you’re too busy counting all the non-existent lines on your face and crying yourself to sleep every night because you’re single/without children/don’t own a home/aren’t where you want to be in your career, because you COULD be out having the time of your life while you’re still young enough to get away with blacking out in a corner of a bar that smells like cheeseballs and shame after making out with a stranger. So go out and go do that. Right now. And let’s start a movement.
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Fuck. This is official late-thirties territory. Stuff is starting to sag. The power of retinol holds more value than your own flesh and blood. You could potentially be a grandparent without even having been a teen mom. You can’t even throw back the brewskies the way you used to after work because NEWSFLASH: Two-day hangovers are real life. But at least you have your shit together (or mostly together), and it doesn’t faze you too much, because you’ve got more important things to do than waste your weekdays worrying about the elasticity of your skin or your weekends drinking yourself into oblivion — your career is probably in full swing, and you’ve learned to surround yourself only with the people and things that truly make you happy.
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Yeah, you’re in your solid mid-thirties, and you’re more than likely starting to re-evaluate the consequences of all the mistakes you’ve ever made. All of sudden your debt becomes real and your lack of savings becomes scary, the singles table at weddings becomes depressing, and the dreaded “did I let the one get away?” thought crosses your mind more than once. But there are silver linings (and not just in your hair): This is a year where you’ll probably fully embrace being adult and begin thinking long term, while really taking into account the mistakes of your past (something that you can only learn from age). Also, this probably the first year you will utter, “You couldn’t pay me to relive my twenties,” and really mean it.
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Thirty-seven isn’t exactly thirty-HEAVEN — it’s probably the first year that you actually feel 40 is within reach, but other than that, this year is pretty OK. You’re certainly much more comfortable with who you are than you have been at any other point in your life, and you’re also accepting of things that are out of your control. Most importantly, you’re not the verge of having existential life crisis (looking at you, 35).
You’re over the “crap I’m 35 WHO EVEN AM I” hump, and now that you’ve come to your senses, you’re just busy doin’ you. You’re an adult, sure, and you’ve learned to embrace that (hello, 34), but you probably by now realize there’s no magic moment in your life where you suddenly feel grown-up at all times. You’re a pro, though, at being on top of the important things — like your relationships, friendships, and the lives of your kids (or your pets, or whatever) — and the fine art of letting things go. Suck it, Father Time. You’ve got this.
Damn, you’re looking good there, 32-year-old you. Remember when you were, like, 18, and you thought that 32 was old and gross and weird? Lol. Hi, haters. You’ve gotten past the “I’m in my thirties” crisis, and you realize that adulthood is just a thing you have to deal with, but in whatever way suits you best, which is the fun part. You’re not afraid to be assertive about what you need to be happy; at this age, you have a good sense of what you want out of life (maybe you’re there, on your way there, or maybe you’re just thinking about it, whatevz — everything’s easy breezy at 32). You’ve defined your style in every capacity, and you’re just busy livin’ life, man. And life is beautiful and so are you, you radiant young thing.
You know why 31 is so goddamn fun? Because “holy fuck I’m 30, oh god I’m going to die soon” consumed your entire last year and you are so OVER IT. And hey, you can probably still pass for 25, anyway. Even if you can’t, who cares? You’re young enough to not feel like a creep for hanging out at cool, hip (lol) hot spots with the youngsters, but old enough to not feel weird about loving having a quiet night at home or maybe even raising a family, if that’s what you’re up to these days. As one BuzzFeed staffer put it, “You’re still close enough to your twenties to feel kind of young and occasionally relive your twenties for a night or three a year, but you’re old enough that it’s totally legit to use ‘I’m in my thirties!’ as an excuse NOT to go to 99% of the lame parties you’re totally over.”
OMG. Guess what?? Thirty-three is quite possibly the best year of your life. So, fucking live it up. You know how to handle tricky situations with logic and grace, and this is the most zen-like year of your thirties. As one BuzzFeed staffer put it, “You are definitely not ‘old,’ but you’re also no longer truly ‘young’ in the fullest sense of that word — you just are. It’s glorious.” Another says he “probably had more blackouts that year than any other except the fall of my 19th year. So it was awesome.” There you have it. Congratulations on being 33 and blacking out whenever you want. Or, you know, just hanging out and loving life and the things you love to do without feeling like a rickety old bag of bones.