Can you remember the feeling you had when you graduated high school or got your driver’s license? I still remember driving to school all by myself for the first time just minutes after I got my license and laughing out loud the whole way. The total freedom was something so new and blissful that it is forever etched in my mind. I relate my thirties to that sense of freedom. Instead of worrying about the fact I’m no longer in my twenties and young and wild and free, I’m focusing on all the wonderful things the thirties have brought me.

The thirties have brought me into a true acceptance of myself.

30th-birthday-gold-cakeIt no longer feels necessary to bend myself to fit what I think other people want me to be: from looks, to personality, to intelligence. My husband is a businessman and we have “events” to go to from time to time. I used to work myself up into a lather worrying about how I should “appear” to these business associates. Now that I’m in my thirties I’ve stopped stressing about how to “appear” and realize I can only be me.

I don’t feel any pressure to look like I dress expensively because my priorities do not lie in building an expensive wardrobe and I’m proud of that. I don’t feel it necessary to sound smarter than I am because I know I am plenty smart in a variety of areas even if they don’t line up with what the business folk are talking about.

I’ve also come to realize that being genuinely me in personality is far better than trying to be a stepford wife. In doing this I’ve realized I can actually have real conversations with people that are entertaining instead of trying to keep things to what I foolishly imagined were the limited topics I should talk about.

Allowing myself the freedom to let go of my preconceived notions of what I thought people wanted me to be has given me the ability to just enjoy getting to know the people my husband works with instead of spending several hours worrying about how I’m perceived.

Friendship has also been transformed for me in the thirties.

In this era I’ve learned, and am still learning, that friendships need prioritizing. I have only a few very close friends and I’ve learned if I want to keep them, I have to put real effort into the relationship, especially with busy schedules of families, school and work schedules. However, I’ve also learned that the friends I am not as close to are crucial to being a well-rounded person. Spending time with a variety of people feels like a breath of fresh air and takes pressure off of my closest friends to be everything all of the time. There is also a beauty in realizing it’s okay to stop putting effort into black hole relationships, where effort goes in but never returned. Those friendships may end and that is okay, because the ones that matter will stand the test of time.

The thirties and possibly having three children has also allowed me to accept my body.

The squishy tummy that doesn’t seem to want to leave is a part of me. It’s here largely because I gave my body to my children for 9 months of pregnancy and 6 months of nursing, three different times. It’s here because life can be crazy and I often choose to be at home and handle munchkins, laundry, cleaning and carpool instead of going to the gym. So if my jeans don’t fit as loosely or there’s a roll here or there I’ve let myself accept it and realize it doesn’t diminish my worth as a person. I don’t have to spend every day agonizing over the last 5 pounds (okay 10), because even if it never comes off I’m okay with me.

My thirties are the first time in my life where I’ve stopped tearing myself down because I don’t look like a supermodel and truly allowed myself to be imperfect. I’m not saying I ever looked perfect- I’m just saying now I feel perfectly fine with my imperfection.

Life is short and unpredictable and I want to spend my time being the person I actually am and enjoying every minute I have.

Have your thirties changed you? In what ways?