Personal Growth
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Personal Growth

The Joy of Being 30-Something

When you turn 30, you can’t fake it anymore.

Photo by Joshua Earle / Unsplash

When you turn 30, you can’t fake it anymore. It becomes impossible to work a job you hate, date someone you aren’t in love with, and treat your body like crap. After 30, you begin to feel more. You’re more in touch with your body, your heart, and your soul.

Some of these changes are hard. Your body begins to reject things it doesn’t agree with it, like coffee, getting wasted, and staying up all night. Your heart is less interested in carefree exploration and more excited about going deep with someone you actually love. Your soul is more in tune with its true desires. In your thirties, you stop bullshitting others, and you finally stop bullshitting yourself. In your thirties, you begin to know who you are and what you want. In your thirties, you’re confident of your strengths, but more importantly, you own your weaknesses. In your thirties, you replace your excuses with your truth. In your thirties, a hangover isn’t just a headache on Sunday morning, it’s the worst day of your life.

When I first turned 30, I resisted a lot of these changes. I cried when my doctor told me I had to give up coffee, or be addicted to Prilosec for the rest of my life. I got pissed when I would get drunk off two IPAs and feel like death the next day. I felt like something was wrong with me for not wanting to go out on a Friday night.

Nearly three years later, I’m in love with being 30-something.

On Friday nights, I do whatever I want. Usually, I stay in and read a book or watch Netflix. I put sweatpants on as soon as I get home, and I’m in bed by 9pm. If I do go out, it’ll be like this past Friday night, when I went to an evening yoga class with my two buddies, Kevin and Zeb, and then ate ramen and drank lemon verbena tea. When I was 24, you wouldn’t have seen me at a yoga studio on a Friday night, unless the studio was taken over by a hipster art show with free PBR.

Sure, I still have the occasional glass (or two) of red wine, but my week does not revolve around drinking. When people ask me if I want to “go out,” I assume that means going for an outdoor adventure or a field trip somewhere special — and not to drink at a bar.

I used to think old people who woke up early were from another planet. I remember once in college, my best friend and I were home for winter break, and we got back to my parents’ house at 5am after a night of partying. My buddy drunkenly stumbled into the living room, tripped over himself three times, and spun around to find my Dad, already awake, lacing up his shoes to go for a run. I’m not waking up at 5am just yet — I think you have to be 50-something for that to kick in — but my favorite days are when I’m outside early in the morning, breathing fresh air and exercising.

In your twenties, you want to be friends with everyone. All you want to do is meet people, and you want all your new friends to hang out with each other. You create these large, “on Saturday, all of us are going to…” situations, where 5 or 10 or 20 random friends are invited to a bar or potluck or dance party.

In your thirties, group hangs begin to become insufferable. In your thirties, you learn who your real friends are. Thankfully, after years and years of fake “let’s catch up” conversations, the group hang is replaced by the 1-on-1. Every now and then, I’m down for a big party, but most of the time, I just want to spend an intimate evening talking with someone I care deeply about, someone who is actually part of my life, someone who will be at my wedding — not just someone who likes my photos on Facebook.

In your thirties, the 1-on-1 becomes a sacred ritual, and I can always tell my friends who are 27 from my friends who are 33, because when you make plans with a 27 year-old, they’ll bring along one of their friends to tag along for dinner, without asking you if it’s okay. A 33 year-old friend would never fuck up the 1-on-1.

What a joy to treat your body and your heart with more compassion, to get closer to who you are and what you want, to stay in on Friday night, and to spend time with the people you actually want to spend time with.

What a joy to be 30-something.

Smiley Poswolsky is the author of The Quarter-Life Breakthrough, a guide for millennials to find meaningful work. His follow-up book will be published by Tarcher Perigee/Penguin Random House in 2016. Follow @whatsupsmiley and get free quarter-life resources at



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