Age Is In The Attitude
“Age only matters when one is aging. Now that I have arrived at a great age, I might just as well be twenty…Youth has no age.” ~ Pablo Picasso
More from the archives! This one seems particularly “memory-lane(ish)” given I wrote it, and hosted a roundtable discussion for it, nearly a seven years ago. Having recently celebrated a big birthday, I think a lot of this rings true still. Stay true to yourself, age is nothing but a number, and all in the attitude. So Ladies in your thirties (& beyond), this one is for you.
“Age Is In The Attitude” Originally published in Sloane Magazine long, long ago…
I recently overheard a woman complain about turning thirty; she bemoaned getting older, having responsibilities and less fun. “Oh sister, if only you knew!”, I thought. It was difficult to restrain myself from telling her she had no idea just how much more powerful and confident it is to be a woman in your thirties. You are a survivor of misguided, youthful folly and jubilance, thankfully arriving at 30 infinitely more sure of yourself. Although the journey of self-discovery is life-long, there is something to be said for taking those many roads that lead to so many mistakes in your 20’s. You will eventually be thankful for it all, having lived and learned about yourself. You’ll be proud to celebrate your passage by hoisting your flag atop the mini mountain that is 30! It’s an accomplishment. Your 30’s are not what you imagined during your teenage years. I look back and laugh when I recall what I imagined. What will you say to yourself looking back from 50? 60? 30 is young — enough with lamenting over birthdays! As is the case for all the decades to come: age is entirely an attitude, and if you find yourself in a progressive and positive state of mind, you can be any age you feel you want to be. Do not submit to an age category box. Just. Don’t. Do. It.
I am not here to stereotype or judge those younger than I, especially because I know some spectacularly wise teenagers and 20-something’s, some disastrous 30 & 40 year olds, and of course, brilliant, youthful and inspiring women in their 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. The frivolity of those earlier years can bring about both wonderful and difficult experiences. Reckless abandon shifts to cautious optimism, peppered with skepticism. As young women, we are busy proving to the world we can take care of ourselves, all the while test driving our emotions, test driving partners and defining ourselves. It’s a wild and wonderful ride, so take the time to reflect on it and be excited for all the possibilities. For most women, the person she is at 20 is drastically different than the woman she becomes by 30: the evolution is a messy but beautiful process.
C.S. Lewis said, “Thirty was so strange for me. I’ve really had to come to terms with the fact that I am now a walking and talking adult.” There may be some truth to that, but if you think you are suddenly going to wake up one day “an adult,” think again. No matter your age, you continue to straddle the divide between adolescence and responsibility of adulthood. Embrace it. I don’t think it serves one well to solely fall onto one side of that equation or the other. For God’s sake, have some fun while you’re doing it all; laugh and be open with your friends; they need it too. I think there is an honesty that comes with age, letting down guards, exposing your battle scars, and admitting you don’t know everything. There is tremendous freedom in that. In my 30’s it was as though the flood-gates opened and truth started to spill from the mouths of my friends as we stopped our judgmental tendencies and finally saw each other for everything we have in common as women. It is important to maintain perspective, and not get lost in the details because your 30’s are busy. You have a career, a full social life, hobbies, travel, maybe even a marriage and/or kids. You may find yourself in a position at work or at home, wondering how you got there. The new adjectives that reflect your own “maturity” and include more concrete ideals such as integrity, passion for living, principles, goal-oriented, considerate and loving. Creating the life you want in your 30’s takes work, but it’s worth it! You finally can make it on your own terms, and in collaboration with an equal partner. Your thirties (and beyond) are a force with which to be reckoned in all the right ways.
Relationships change too, and whether you are married, divorced or dating, you suddenly find yourself asking questions about your future that had just seemed so far away. My friends and I jokingly refer to our lives as “tales from the dangerously self-sufficient” that include as we are building our careers, buying our homes, taking ourselves out to dinner, and managing our own investments. The majority of women in my life live in major cities from New York to Vancouver, and Los Angeles to London. There’s an abundance of incredible, single women in each city and happily so. For every woman who is married with kids, I will show you five who are not but living extremely full lives. I have come to know couples in fantastic relationships, but even more who have channeled dreams of prince/princess charming into fantasies of their own making. Do we want to have it all? Yes. Will we survive without it? Yes. But now is the time to decide what you can and can’t live without.
I am lucky in my life to be surrounded by incredible women who are smart, kind, funny, cultured and driven.With so much to discuss, I gathered these women together for a roundtable discussion and asked these friends — from journalists to producers, artists to financiers, single ladies to mothers — to share their (anonymous) thoughts on being a 30- something.
What do you like about being in your thirties?
— I love my 30’s because it’s all about me as an independent woman and I can do whatever I want on my own terms, living by my own rules that come from my heart and my brain! In my 20’s I was consumed by the little things in life, like what to wear, who to date and what hot spot I planned on hitting. In my 30’s I am thinking of my path to financial freedom, the countries I want to visit, my home, my family, my friends, looking at myself with an objective eye, evolving as a woman. In my 20’s I was always confident without reason but in my 30’s I am confident and have an understanding of it.
— I feel so loving and happy in my 30’s. My 20’s were a mess for me! Everything fell into place and made sense in my 30’s. I know what I am doing here now when in my 20’s I wasn’t sure if I was coming or going, and I hear the 40’s are even better, if you can imagine, and 50’s, then 60’s and so on. I feel able to take on whatever I need, whether from a business or personal standpoint.
— Motherhood. The clarity of action/ purpose. The multi-faceted beauty of womanhood amplified is happening right now for me in my 30’s with a growing awareness of what that means in human terms.
— A few things come to mind… I’ve always been a people pleaser and I’ve learned that sometimes you have to put your own feelings and happiness ahead of trying to please everyone else…as I get older this is becoming clearer to me. I’ve also noticed that my relationship with my parents has started to develop into more of a friendship than a parent/ child relationship in the past couple years. And I still have as much fun as I did in my 20s but I now have more of my own money to do it with!
— As someone who is very focused on career at the moment, I love that in your thirties people take you seriously in business. Finally! — Oh God, I love my thirties. There is such a profound relief in it. Not that it is easier, just richer and more productive. I was reminded on my birthday this year of a great Oscar Wilde quote: “Thirty-five is a very attractive age. London society is full of women of the very highest birth who have, of their own free choice, remained thirty-five for years.”
What did you think you would be doing now? What are you doing now and is it better?
— I thought I would have a job where I am hugely successful… I am working on doing that now, in an industry I love; however I never accounted for my taste getting so much more specific and lifestyle becoming such a big factor.
— I thought I would be married with 6 kids. But I am working at work, at home and on myself, and actually this is much better! I hope for a good man but if he doesn’t show up I can live out my dreams on my own!
— I am continuing building my career experience as a writer, starting my own company, being a full-time mom, writing my thesis, and gearing up to be officially back to work: generally expanding my outlook. Building my own business is immensely rewarding, humbling, challenging and worth it. I’ve literally felt myself grow exponentially as a human being.
What women do you admire?
— I look at my mother and see how solid she is. That can only come with experience and it is amazing to see.
— Successful women in business like Producer Christine Vachon.
— Any woman with a command of her brilliance and fierce with a vital capacity to love. Women that transcend time…
— I admire Angelina Jolie…she’s successful, adopted half a litter, had a litter of her own and doesn’t give a s**t what anyone thinks! Also, my dearest friend for never judging me, always supporting my decisions, never telling me what to do but guiding me with my best interest in mind, being a great listener, a truthful woman, giving me unconditional love and being a great friend.
What questions would you ask of your peers?
— Are we really grown ups?
— My concerns are that I might not carry a child of my own at this point. I would ask my peers if they have the same concerns and how they feel about the possibility of never conceiving a child.
— I generally ask spontaneous questions when together with other girlfriends
— I like the ones that are based on day-to-day life experiences, of the now.
Thoughts on the youth obsessed media?
— The one thing about youth that can never be captured in the later years is the sparkle in your skin and stupidity. I don’t understand the obsession with youth in media. I personally find a woman that has lived out her youth more attractive. She has more substance and character.
— I hardly even notice it anymore. Good for them…it is only a one-dimensional perspective, so as long as I keep that in mind, it doesn’t bother me.
— I think the youth of today get it. Frivolity, gaiety, freedom to satisfy pleasures and whims is underrated — it’s about a youthful state of mind. They’re doing all these things; they’re smart, savvy, spearheading the 21st century in a lot of ways (direct and indirect), and achieving what someone in their 30’s, 40’s and up can without context…
Any lessons you would like to share? Advice?
— Appreciate yourself as a woman. Give love and honest friendship. Accept wrong decisions and take appropriate actions so not to live with the mistake.
— Be conscious of your own day-today reality, there’s art in that! And make it a personal achievement to live each decade better than the one before but never compare them.
— Don’t be lazy and bank on things like, “ it’s likely”
— Move past the relationship fairy tale. Embrace a real partnership, because it is infinitely more rewarding. Don’t give up on romance, it is very important, but learn to love the qualities of another, do the fairy tale the right way. Connection is everything, because at the end of the day you really have to like someone, not just love, so that you still stay engaged and interested in their own journey as an individual, while incorporating it in to your own and constantly loving forward together. And at this stage of the game, if you are out there dating, if a connection doesn’t fit, then move on…
— Life takes you down unexpected paths without warning. If you have good people around, you will always make it through stronger. Take time to hear someone’s story, you may be surprised at what you learn. Follow your heart even if it leads toward a difficult road. Love deep and without reserve. Cherish your friends and family neither can be replaced. Regret is the worst thing to live with, so take a risk and be okay with whatever the outcome. Have faith and appreciate what you have today.