10 Tips for Embracing the Big 3-0 ...

So, in August, I reached a milestone – and I also learned how to embrace turning 30. Yeah, I just aged myself. This, too, is a milestone, because just before my 29th birthday, I decided I was going to remain 28 until I turned 32. What can I say? I like even numbers, as long as they don't start with “th,” end with “y,” and rhyme with “dirty.” I confess, I'm one of those people who thought it would never happen to me. Turning 30 gracefully wasn't an option because I suffered from Peter Pan syndrome. I was like a Stephen King novel, sure that the inevitable wouldn't happen to me because I was special. Well, it happened, and for a while there, it took me down hard. Turns out that many of my friends – vibrant, bright, beautiful, smart, funny girls and boys – felt the same way. So if you're nearing 30, or still think it won't happen to you either, here are some helpful tips for turning 30. And let me be the first to welcome you to the club!

1. Embrace Where You Are

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For me, figuring out how to embrace turning 30 came hard because all I kept thinking was, “This is not where I thought I would be.” For various reasons, I expected to be a mother by now – not necessarily because I wanted to or because I was ready, but because my mom was a mom at my age. I thought I would be a doctor too, because that was what I set out to be in college. I realized I was measuring myself against who I used to be and a person I never really was, as well. I haven't wanted to be a doctor since I was 19 years old, so why am I judging myself 11 years later? As for motherhood, the Better Half and I can't wait to be mommies, but right this very second isn't the right time. As it stands, I'm in a loving, committed, deliriously happy relationship with a girl I love more than life itself, I have my dream job, I get to indulge in writing, my first occupational-love, and as such, I have the time and the funds to do all the things I want to do with the person I love. So why was I disappointed, again? If you're judging yourself based on past desires, take a look at what made you want those things and see if they do still matter.

2. Work toward Your Dreams

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If they do, then absolutely, work toward your dreams and your goals. If you have new dreams, work toward those as well. I had to realize that just because I decided that I wanted to write and, perhaps, at some juncture, teach, it didn't mean I had failed. I find medicine endlessly fascinating and I'm still a sucker for pathology, but premed and medical school weren't my things. Endlessly explicating short stories and poems, writing essays and dissertations, focusing on fiction – those are my things, I'm good at them, I love them, and that's awesome. There are still goals to work toward, and knowing I have new dreams to look forward to is incredible. So think about what really makes you happy, and realize that turning 30 is as good an excuse as any to start working for what you want!

3. Get Healthier

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Turning 30 gracefully requires honesty. I need to be healthier, I need to visit the doctor more regularly for various things, and I need to be more active. All the members of the 30-club I've spoken to say the same things. A lot of us have been putting it off for years, insisting that next week or next month or next year, we'll do all the health related things we know we should. Make this year the year, because you really will feel so much better. I don't even mean you'll feel better because you'll lose weight or look even more fantastic, I mean that mentally, physically, and emotionally, you'll get serious, much-needed boosts.

4. Look at Your Accomplishments

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How have you succeeded? Learning how to embrace turning 30 means loving yourself and being proud of yourself. You can't judge the person you were in your 20s, but you can absolutely praise yourself for all the things you've done. Have you graduated college? Gotten multiple degrees, even? Have you done well in your job, learned new things, started a family, fallen in love? All of those things are accomplishments, and you need to give yourself credit for them.

5. Make Plans

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But don't stop there. Keep making plans. It doesn't even matter what they are, as long as you're making plans to do things that make you happy. Maybe you want to learn how to be a gourmet cook, maybe you want to travel, maybe you want to get married and have babies. You might be going back to school, getting a new job, or learning a new skill. Whatever it is, set aside the time to do it. Create a time line. Why?

6. Don't Stagnate

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Because if you don't, you won't. You'll stagnate. I hate saying this, because I do not enjoy feeling sorry for myself, but for several weeks after my birthday, I was just a big ball of whine. I didn't want to do anything, even though I had responsibilities. The simplest tasks took forever. Fortunately, the BH knows exactly when to push me, and I'm lucky enough to have family and friends who aren't afraid of tough love. That being said, if you need some time to adjust, take it. Just don't take too long, because the longer you linger in self-pity, the harder it is to get going again, and you don't want the world to pass you by.

7. Stop Judging Yourself

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I really can't stress this enough, clearly. This is one of the most essential tips for turning 30. The difference is, right now I'm not just talking about judging yourself based on your current life or your accomplishments. I mean don't judge yourself at all. Don't feel bad about turning 30, don't feel old. You are not old. No one is ever going to get old again because 40 is the new 30, so 30 is the new 20, so you're practically barely-legal.

8. Do Not Compare Yourself to Others

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You know what often makes 30 year olds judge themselves harshly? Other people. Don't do that! Do not compare yourself to other people. Don't compare yourself to your friends and family members and absolutely do not ever compare yourself to any type of celebrity. I found myself doing that. “Okay, so, Kim Kardashian's older than I am and she's totally rich and has her own show and clothing line and … oh, wait, her own sex tape and her own marriage scandal and … okay, never mind.” Just assume that if you start trying to compare yourself to other 30 year olds, especially if they're famous, that will be your thought process, too. That way, you get all of the epiphany and none of the angst!

9. Consider Your Strengths

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You have strengths. You have skills. If you want to figure out how to embrace turning 30, you have to acknowledge them. Throw modesty out the door for a few minutes, especially if it's false modesty. It has no place here for the time being. I don't care if you flawlessly speak a second language, know how to crochet, or are somehow able to peel a banana with your toes. That's awesome, you are strong, and your skills are legit. Own them.

10. Remember Your Friends

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This is my most life-saving tip for turning 30: remember your friends. Are you still friends with anyone with whom you attended high school or college? Even vaguely? Do you have work friends who are the same age? Well, guess what? They're all going through this as well. Talk to them, discuss your feelings, see how they're doing. Friendship helps so much when you reach these milestones, especially when they sort of depress you so much that you want to pretend to be 28 for four years. What? Yes I was serious. Don't judge!

Learning how to embrace turning 30 isn't hard, exactly, we just make it hard. You've passed the quarter-life mark, theoretically. You're rounding the home stretch. You look back and discover that things which occurred 20 years ago seem like they happened 10 years ago instead. The music you like shows up on “classic” stations, the bands you loved have wrinkles (seriously, Tre Cool looks so old!), and you're not where you expected to be – but you are where you are, and that's awesome. You just have to embrace yourself, then embracing your age is easy. What advice do you have for turning 30 gracefully?

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