Bright Side

I’ve Finally Realized What Things I’ve Outgrown and Can Stop Doing After 30

Recently I went to the hairdresser and while looking through some magazines, I came across an article a-la 10 Things Every Woman Should Do To Be Happy. The author insisted that a woman can forget about a successful life if she is not wearing 5-inch stilettos, doesn’t have a poker face in all situations, and isn’t doing her best at housekeeping. It was written specifically for those over 40.

At the same time, I realized that I owed nothing to other people after I turned 30. I would like to tell Bright Side readers about the things that I am “too old” to do but that I feel happy about.

1. Doing housework that you don’t like and can’t do

At the age of 37, I finally admitted to myself that I don’t like cooking and that I can’t cook, and I hired an assistant. My friend frowned and disapproved of this idea explaining it by the “fact” that food cooked by strangers has bad energy. But most of all I was surprised by my mother, who said that she is very happy about it. Why? Because I’ll finally stop eating fast food and other junk food and that I’ll always have a main course in the fridge.

If only I had admitted earlier that I can’t cook and if I didn’t care about the opinion of those around me, my life would have become easier much earlier. Not only did this decision bring me comfort but also helped me save money because now I don’t spend money on snacks and other semi-finished products. I am a big girl already and I don’t have to make myself do things I don’t like.

2. Feeling ashamed about my marital status

The mottos saying that “every woman wants to get married” and “that a woman’s life is wasted if she hasn’t given birth to a child” are hopelessly outdated. We all have our own understanding of happiness and good things in general — and family status is no exception. I don’t have to justify myself for not wanting to give birth to a second kid, just like single 30-something women have the right to not listen to all those rude comments a-la “you are going to be an old maid soon” or “you seem to be left on the shelf.”

3. Comparing yourself to others

“Jane is going to do an internship to Great Britain, Zoey has given birth to her third child, Emily has bought an apartment in the center of the city,” my friend Lily keeps me updated on the latest news about our ex-classmates. Perhaps earlier, I would’ve found a reason to feel jealous about these updates because my former classmates are really cool. Now I simply feel happy for them because each of them has gotten what she wanted and worked so hard for.

I refuse to take part in this race called “Faster, higher, and stronger!” and I am not going to compete with others about who gets married more successfully, who is going to have a better vacation, or who earns more. There is no point in wasting time and energy on this. Now I compare my life with the things I had 5 years ago and I can see the progress. This is enough for me to feel happy.

4. Wearing uncomfortable footwear

At 22, I would put on high stilettos, then go to work on a bus for an hour, conduct several excursions (which means I was on my feet all day long), and believed it was a totally OK thing. I wanted to look stunning in any situation, which is why I would wear nylon tights at −22°F, wear lace thongs, and would not wear a hat even in a stormy wind so I wouldn’t ruin my hairdo.

Today I wear only things that are first of all comfortable and then beautiful, stylish, etc. If I like a clothing item visually, I first touch it to understand how pleasant the material feels and I make sure to read the composition. No matter how trendy the item is and no matter how big the discount is, I won’t even try on an item made of prickly synthetics. It’s totally normal to love yourself and to care about your comfort.

5. Adjusting to beauty standards

Back in the days, I wanted to have a 36-24-36 body shape but the reality is that I’ve never had nor will I ever have these measurements. There is no sense in worrying about it, just like there is no sense in dreaming that my size 8 foot will turn into a size 6. I’ve accepted myself the way I am, in a clothing size that is comfortable, I play up my advantages with the help of clothing and I don’t waste my time dreaming about unreachable ideals.

My friend Sarah weighs 220 pounds. Her ex-husband used to call her a “cow” and he made her adhere to a strict diet. But at some point, Sarah realized that she liked to eat tasty food more than she loved her tyrant husband. After her divorce, she signed up for belly dancing courses that she had been dreaming about for a long time, she changed the color of her hair, and she stopped wearing shapeless clothes that would hide her fat (at her husband’s request).

Now Sarah has many admirers. And it is all because she started to love herself — at the same weight. She is a charming person who likes to laugh and who makes the people around her feel warm and comfortable. She attracts others like a magnet. Each woman is beautiful if she likes her reflection in the mirror, while the numbers on the scale are just a secondary thing.

6. Finishing things that I don’t enjoy doing

I was always told by my mom and my kindergarten teachers that I can’t leave the table unless I finish my meal. I was an obedient girl and would even finish the food that I hated. In adulthood, I can allow myself to not eat the cake that I don’t feel like eating, even if it cost a lot of money at a restaurant, I can leave a date because I don’t like the other person, or I can stop attending painting classes because I lost interest. Stepping back doesn’t mean losing — it’s not shameful.

7. Acting heroically

My friend Lizzie is the chief accountant at a big company. She got a call from her mother, “Come, we need to plow the garden to plant garlic!” Their house is 250 miles away. Lizzie says, “Let me send you some money and you can pay the neighbor to do it.” But her mother refused. Back in the day, Lizzie would rush to plow the garden and forget about her own obligations. Now she pays the neighbor in the summer, so that he will help her mother with garden work in the fall. And everyone is happy.

By and large, no one will appreciate it if you go to work on the weekends, walk with your child 3 times a day no matter the weather, or spend your entire birthday over the stove in order to surprise your guests. You shouldn’t try to do more than your best. Instead, you can choose to only follow through with those tasks that you like and that you are able to do. And this is because you appreciate yourself and value your own time.

8. Feeling shy about age-related changes

For centuries, women have been taught to hide their age and to be ashamed of it. If I wanted to follow fashion, I would be trying to look 10 years younger, dye my gray hair, and put on a thick layer of foundation to hide my wrinkles. But why? I feel comfortable at my age. I don’t see a single reason to feel shy about it.

At 37, I stopped dyeing my hair — I did have gray hair and I was OK with it. I thought to myself, it’s not that visible. I was surprised to learn that some people are irritated by it. Once, a retail associate jokingly said to me, “We have a good deal on hair dye. Would you like to get some?” No, I wouldn’t. I don’t think gray hair (or wrinkles) is something to be ashamed of. How about you?

9. Enduring

With age, I’ve realized that being able to go through something hard is not a virtue. If you have a toothache, don’t cover up the symptoms by taking painkillers, instead, go to the dentist ASAP and solve the issue. You might be irritated by a leaking tap for 3 years, but why? If a plumber can fix it within 30 minutes, let them.

There was a time when my boss would call me at any time (after 10 p.m., at 7 a.m. on Sundays) and yell at me. I was 20-something then and one month later I started to shudder at any vibration of my phone. Once, I couldn’t hold myself back and I told my boss everything I thought about him. Afterward, I was fired.

Now, in my 30s, I would leave that job in a second after the first incident. And I am not just bragging about it. The thing is that I now understand that letting someone disrespect me isn’t worth any amount of money. And at my age, I can afford to not let anyone do that to me.

10. Making other people’s interests a bigger priority than your own interests

Earlier I would go to the store to buy jeans and come back with a bunch of T-shirts, dresses, and shoes (for my kids). My husband would ask, “Where are the jeans?”, while I would realize that I had forgotten about myself. I would tell myself that I’d buy them next time. Now I am smarter: I go grocery shopping and I treat myself to a cake instead of buying the hundredth doll for my daughter, and I eat it without regret. I am not ashamed because that’s how I continue to be a kind mother to my kid.

When I was younger, it seemed to me that other people’s issues needed to be solved first, while my own issues would be solved if there was any time left over for them. I would agree to help my colleagues at work and stay overtime or give my last $20 to my friend to buy new clothes and live with no money until my next salary, which was still a week away. But now I realize that things in life should have the same priorities as on a plane — first put the oxygen mask on yourself, then take care of everyone else. That’s why I stopped pushing my own interests to the back burner.

11. Showing "success’ on social media

Psychologists’ research has shown that most people lie on social media in order to appear more wanted, loved, and active. But in fact, it is extremely exhausting to always be sugarcoating reality and to keep creating this non-existent image. Why waste time and energy on it?

Recently I did an experiment where I would only write the truth on my page for one month. I had to instantly de-friend several people who I wasn’t ready to be honest with. After that, I cleaned my contact list and kept only those people whose opinions mattered to me. Those are my like-minded people and I don’t have to sugarcoat my life in front of them. Regarding the rest — it’s simply not necessary for them to know about my life.

12. Waiting until you grow up to make your dreams come true

I had always dreamt of singing, but my mother would always demonstratively close her ears when she heard me sing. When I was a student, I was extremely shy about my voice and couldn’t enjoy singing and playing the guitar together with my friends. At 32, I paid for my first vocal lesson. Of course, it’s a long way to Montserrat Caballé but still, I can sing pretty well.

If you’ve always dreamed about kayaking, dyeing your hair blue, or adopting a dog, don’t wait for the right time and make your dreams come true. In your 30s, it doesn’t matter what your neighbors, colleagues, or even your mother says. Each of us is living their own unique life and it shouldn’t have to be postponed until tomorrow.

Which things, that you considered obligatory to do in your youth, do you not let yourself do today?