While perusing Facebook recently, I stumbled upon an article that popped up on my feed at just the right moment (don’t you love when that happens?). It was titled, “People Aren’t Happiest Until They Reach 33.”
Well, well, well. I turn 33 in less than three months! I took it as a positive sign of more good things to come. My 30s have been solid so far, despite the fact that I actually have to work out regularly and my hangovers are really real. But overall, I feel the benefits of what that study stated: “By this age, innocence has been lost, but our sense of reality is mixed with a strong sense of hope, a can-do spirit, and a healthy belief in our own talents and abilities.”
That’s exactly how I feel. I’m certainly less naive than I was in my 20s (“Everyone is trustworthy!” “Employers are loyal to employees!” “Your ‘friends’ always want the best for you!”), and I’m even more resolute than ever in my ability to somehow always figure things out.
Turning 30 can be scary for some people. In life coaching, it’s called the period when we abandon the “novice adulthood” of our 20s. But take it from me: Your 30s aren’t all that bad. In fact, here are five reasons why it’s a decade to get excited about and embrace when it arrives.
1. Less Personal Insecurity
Zero f*cks, anyone?​ There’s nothing like years of experience under your belt to help you stop caring so much about what other people think. When I was a teenager, my mom used to say, “I’m 60, darling. No one scares me.” Back then I would wish that I could somehow fast-forward to her mindset, but only time fully gets you there. The confidence that a few extra years gives you is worth anything you think you may be losing as you enter this transitional decade.
2. Knowing Who You Are
Your 30s still vibrate with the energy and enthusiasm of youth, but you don’t follow the crowd as much. You know who you are in a different way.
Your 30s still vibrate with the energy and enthusiasm of youth, but you don’t follow the crowd as much. You know who you are in a different way. You’re clearer on what matters to you and what doesn’t. You don’t feel the same need to fit in—to go snowboarding, to stay in your current city, to get engaged because your friends are. It can then be a natural consequence that some friendships will fizzle out—and that’s OK!
3. Increased Income
By age 30, you’ve had some real career experience. Hopefully your income has increased as you’ve built what Meg Jay in her popular TED talk, “Why 30 Is Not the New 20,” describes as “identity capital.” Whether or not you give yourself credit, your 20s are a developmental sweet spot for your career. If you consider where you were at age 20 versus age 30, you might just want to take a step back and give yourself some applause.
4. Enough Experience to Make Better Choices
There is nothing like past mistakes to help you make better decisions. If you worked your butt off for an employer and never took a single sick day (even with a fever) and still got laid off, you might ask yourself, “Will I take better care of myself the next time I’m sick?” You have to live through a few disappointments in order to be an informed, confident decision maker.
5. Time to Forge the Future You Want
This is my favorite one right here. At age 30, I resigned from my corporate job to work for myself. But because of the above four reasons, I knew I could make it work. For me, it was the perfect time to make a big leap. I had a good blend of work experience to feel capable of going at it alone, and I still have time ahead of me to figure it all out.
And that’s the kicker. In your 30s, you realize you will figure it out. Because by this gorgeous age, you’ve already figured a lot out, and so, despite what comes up, your healthy belief in your own abilities kicks in no matter what. You reach that quiet, calm, certain place where you know that everything will end up OK. I wouldn’t exchange that for my hangover-proof 20s for a second.
Susie Moore is Greatist’s life coach columnist and a confidence coach in New York City. Sign up for free weekly wellness tips on her website and check back every Tuesday for her latest No Regrets column!