Being 30 means…

How things change in the decade of your 20s

Julie Zhuo
The Year of the Looking Glass
3 min readJun 3, 2014


Clubs < bars < restaurants < someone’s backyard where you can don’t have to shout to talk.

Rereading high school assigned books and realizing “holy shit this book is actually pretty good.”

The structure of the school year—spring break, summer vacation, midterms and finals—once the most important defining factor of time, now means nothing at all.

Instead, you know all about the seasonality of vegetables. Like how April = asparagus, and the ideal consumption of heirloom tomatoes in October is ~5/week.

Interior decor is somehow incredibly appealing, and you have a Pinterest board (or maybe more than one) full of that shit.

By Antony Shepherd

Your parents are cool again.

In fact, the tide has somehow shifted from “wanting to live as far away from your parents as possible” to “suggesting that they consider moving to your city upon retirement.”

Seeing that technologies change, but basic human desires don’t.

Learning something new is no longer an obligation but a happy luxury, like discovering a new flavor sensation on your tongue.

You’ve seen politics firsthand and it’s not some dirty nebulous accusation that gets thrown around but actually a term that describes the very real challenge of getting a large group of people with differing opinions to agree.

Enjoying the company of animals more and more.

Looking backwards in time for inspiration in music, fashion, and art instead of always looking forward.

Still feeling young even though no one calls you young anymore.

Consumption of alcohol looks something like: wine > cocktails > beer.

Campbell’s chunky soup, which satisfied your stomach and soul through so many late nights, now tastes a bit cardboard-y.

Working out is less about how it makes you look and more about how it makes you feel.

“Avocado Magic”

Discovering that avocados can be added to practically anything—sandwiches, toast, bagels, eggs—to make it better, like it’s some kind of magical fairy ingredient.

Dogs and babies become a common topic of conversation.

Understanding craft; that in every field, job, or skill, there is a spectrum of “goodness” and “expertise” that usually takes a lifetime to master.

Appreciating that there are people who take the time to master all the things you love but suck at. Like sushi. Or rap.

Being able to distinguish good acting from bad acting.

Being less sentimental about throwing things away. Because there’s more where that came from.

Preferring the benefits of people and experiences over things.

Realizing that most things—debates, trends, adoption of new norms—are formulaic and cyclical.

Coming to the realization that the root of any interesting person is curiosity.

Understanding that how one lives doesn’t matter as much as why one lives the way they do.

Noticing how small details like a place’s foliage and architecture and clouds make it feel wonderfully distinctive.

Learning how to live with people very different from you.

Liking yourself better.

Realizing that you and everyone else changes, and will probably continue to change, so a certain amount of latitude and forgiveness is needed in the operation of each day for the world to go round.



Julie Zhuo
The Year of the Looking Glass

Building Sundial ( Former Product Design VP @ FB. Author of The Making of a Manager. Find me @joulee. I love people, nuance, and systems.