8 Reasons to Celebrate Being 30

untitledddH e l l o! I’ve just returned from a girls’ night/extended birthday celebration at my friend Jeanne’s house, which was my fourth “celebration” of my  birthday (which was Monday, June 23). I’ve been lucky enough (read: spoiled) to have been able to celebrate my birthday over the course of several days: oysters and wine at Rappahannock Thursday night with my friends Talley and Amy; grilling out out our pool on Friday with our friends the Andersons and the Kelleys; a wonderful dinner with my husband on my birthday at Belmont Food Shop (also known as heaven on earth. Best meal in Richmond); and then the girls’ celebration tonight. My friend Bane even matched my candles to my manicure.  Peppered in there were lovely texts and phone calls from friends, family, and coworkers; Facebook messages; a sweet gift from one of my coworkers; and a 20% birthday discount at fab’rik in Carytown. I also got to see my best friend Kendree who just moved back up to New York the week before my birthday AND met Andy Cohen the same night. Not too shabby for Caroline!

So, I just turned the big 3-0. I have been dreading this birthday since my 27th, I think. And even over the course of the weekend and on my birthday itself, I was relishing my last fleeting moments as a twentysomething. Turning 30 seemed like a scary age to turn: so adult, and such a turning point. After the past few days, however, I’ve realized that 30 may not be so bad. And the lessons I’ve learned over the past 30 years will carry with me into the next 30 (with only a few battle wounds of note).

Some of you may be rolling your eyes at my melodrama — after all, 30 is still REALLY young. And, some of you reading this may be feeling that same fear if you’re in your twenties and dreading your 30th birthday. Who knows. But here are a few reasons why I think turning 30 is awesome, and I’ve decided to embrace it:

  1. Owning it: Beyonce style: I’ve heard so many people say that they gain more confidence when they turned 30. I internally rolled my eyes, thinking that they were overcompensating, or trying to make themselves feel better. You know what? Hats off! You’ve made it to 30. You survived the Awkward Middle School Years, the Heartbreaks of High School; the “Who The HELL Am I?” college years; the terrifying and sudden freedom after graduating; and now: look at you. You’ve worked hard at your career and it’s starting to pay off. If you’re as lucky as I am, you’ve landed your dream job. You know who you are. You know what style clothes fit your body — and what styles certainly don’t (hello, peplum!) You know that no, you can’t have “one more glass of wine” before bed without feeling like a zombie the next day, and you know who your true friends are. You know how to spot a bargain, but know when you should splurge — like on a gorgeous new suit after a promotion or for a nice vacation when you’ve worked your butt off for the past six months. This is your world — you OWN it. It feels good to hold your head high, knowing who you are and where you are going. Bey would be proud.
  2. Friends is with a capital F now. And your BFF circle has probably shrunk astronomically. When I daydreamed about my wedding day in high school or college or…okay…like as soon as I met my now- husband… I went through the list of Potential Bridesmaid Candidates and I think I had about 30 people I “had to have.” I still had a large bridal party — 8 bridesmaids, 4 readers — but my friends that I chose are friends with a capital F. My stories with each of them are so different, and deep on different levels — but all of those friendships were important to me and, I hope, will be forever. I’ve got a wonderful, awesome, insanely cool group of friends — those who were part of our wedding and many who were not —  but those friends have become my Capital F Friends. It means something to be Friends. Friendship is an awesome, fun, sometimes insanely frustrating gift — and when you can differentiate your Friends from your friends– that’s kind of amazing.
  3. It’s okay to go to bed early. I used to catch hell for making “Irish exits” when I lived in the Fan (dipping out of the bar early without saying goodbye to anyone. Shameful, I know, but a guilty pleasure even so). I enjoy going out and having a big night just as much of the rest of them, but guess what: it’s completely, 100% okay to want to stay in and go to bed early, even on a Friday night. Hey — I might even call it cool. I have no regrets saying that sometimes, an ideal Friday night includes ordering a pizza, watching a marathon of The Office (RIP) on Netflix, taking a Benadryl for my allergies, and passing the heck out at 10pm. Girlfriend needs her sleep — and it doesn’t make me a loser. A++++++ for going to bed early.
  4. 294086_631353445629_2143982079_n (1)Your parents are freaking awesome. As an only child and a girl, I have had major (I mean MAJOR) ups and downs with my parents. I spent my entire junior year of high school grounded– I’d get grounded, finally have a weekend free and get in trouble again. I gave my parents every grey hair they have (mom, not saying that you have any, of course….). As a teenager, I could think of no other people I despised more than my mom and dad — they were SOOOO strict, SOOOO uncool, SOOOO did not get me. Now? It hurts my heart that they live two states away in South Carolina. Parents are AWESOME. Sure, they were kind of annoying growing up always telling you no and stuff. But as you get to know them as an adult, they become — individually — dynamic, interesting, really cool people that you end up wanting to talk to about EVERYTHING. My parents are my best buds now, and I love that our friendship is continually evolving and changing. Sure, I’m still scared and worried about disappointing them, but it’s kind of awesome that you can call your mom at 11pm and just have a chat like girlfriends now. And what an awesome gift and blessing it is to be friends with two people who have known you since you were born — actually 9 months before you were born.
  5. You can say no. And it’s fine. I was recently in New York City on business and was chatting with a coworker after a glass of wine, whining about my upcoming birthday. I’ve been thinking about what he said a lot — that you can finally say no, and it’s totally cool. Late night at the office and people are begging you to come out for a drink? Nope, too tired. Thanks though. All your friends are going to see the latest trendy movie and you’re not feeling it? Just say so.  This all comes down to honesty as the best policy, and it’s a heck of a lot easier to say no with a real reason then make up a 100-tiered excuse for why you’re just not up for spinning (dog is sick, you have to work late, period cramps….oh AND, your roof needs thatching). Being straight up with people is appreciated, and you should feel confident giving an honest answer.
  6. Speaking of spinning….staying in shape is a lifestyle, not a vanity thing: Well, for the most part. For the past five months, I’ve been working out once a week with a personal trainer, Mara Winters from Gold’s Gym Willow Lawn (SHOUT OUT!!! Love her.) I initially signed up for personal training to get in shape for the wedding. I still have a long way to go to meet my personal fitness goals, and I’ve definitely got a few pounds I’d still like to lose. But what I’ve learned over the past few months with Mara, and from myself, is that staying in shape is about a healthy lifestyle, not being skinny. Of course, like any woman, I want to be thin and toned and have the body of a Victoria’s Secret Model (some gals have all the luck) — but the thing is, working out and eating healthy is a choice you make for the people you love — including yourself. I want to be strong and healthy for my husband and of course for myself, but most of all, for our kids one day. Taking care of yourself is one way we can take care of the ones we love — setting good examples, keeping your energy high, and to stick around for a while. Strong is the new skinny, and healthy is always awesome. Taking care of yourself should be your #1 priority, so you can take care of everyone else around you for a really, really long time.
  7. Travel is a MUST. I have lived in Richmond my entire life, save for a few summers studying abroad in France and London. I work for Virginia Tourism Corporation now, and have traveled more in the past year consistently than I ever have in my entire life. When you have the wherewithal and resources to travel, DO IT. It changes your fiber, in a good way, and changes the way you look at the world. As Mark Twain said: “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”

These are just a few observations and thoughts, and I probably have 500 more floating around in my head that I could write about. But these are the biggies for now… and really? 30 is pretty awesome. I have an awesome husband, amazing family, incredible friends, my absolute dream job, the sweetest dog, and a beautiful house that we love. What more could a girl ask for?

Here’s to the next 30, and 30 more after that!

Happy Birthday, June babies!

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