38 Differences Between My 20s and 30s
When you’re in your 20s, you think they’ll last forever. As a 38-year-old, I can tell you they won’t. Your 20s will turn into your 30s as summer giving way to fall and Justin Bieber blossoming from a boy into a man-boy.
It’s only when you pause to take stock of your 30-something life that you notice the differences. I’m rounding the corner to 40 and appreciating more about what the last decade has offered me. With extra poundage, my first strands of silver hair, and more deeply creased eyebrow furrows have come perspective and shifting priorities.
In honor of my 38th year on this planet, here are the 38 differences I’ve noticed between my 20-something and 30-something selves.
- On talking with my mom: “What should I do with my life?” versus “Mom, you need to do something about your life.”
- On sex: I hope he likes what I’m doing. versus This is exactly what I want.
- On consumables: Poppin’ bottles versus poppin’ antacids.
- On celebrities: “It was Ryan Gosling in The Notebook and Ryan Reynolds in The Green Lantern.” versus “Was it Ru Paul or Paul Rudd that starred in that one Marvel movie?”
- On films: I love Pixar movies! versus I love Pixar movies! (Some things don’t change.)
- On music: The Top 40 is my jam. versus I still know who Justin Bieber is, but who or what is Doja Cat?
- More on music: I’m so over boy bands. versus I miss boy bands.
- On self-esteem: I wonder what they think about me? versus I wonder what I think about me?
- On Facebook: Yes! That cute guy from grad school liked my pic. versus Yes! I scored a free colander from the Buy Nothing group.
- My go-to Starbucks order: Venti soy mocha with an extra pump of syrup versus If forced, whatever’s cheapest and won’t aggravate my acid reflux (read: water). In truth, I don’t buy Starbucks; I have a mortgage.
- On work: “Every day I’m hustlin’.” versus “Working for the weekend.”
- More on work: “Sure, I’ll work whatever hours you need!” versus “If you expect me to be responsive after traditional working hours, you better show me the money.”
- Even more on work: I hope people will take me seriously even though I look young. versus I hope I’m not considered overqualified for entry-level jobs in a new field I’m interested in.
- On life: I’m still figuring things out, but feel like I should have my sh** together versus I’m still figuring things out, but feel like I should have my sh** together. (Again, some things don’t change.)
- On being an adult: Am I really an adult? versus I’m really an adult.
- On therapy: I can’t go to therapy! I should be able to handle my sh**. versus (To my therapist) “What do you mean you have to cancel our appointment for next week?”
- On my worldview: How can I make the world a better place? versus How can I leave the world a less f****d up place?
- On yoga: I wonder if the hot top-knot guy behind me is checking out my bird of paradise? versus Does laying on my back on the living room floor while my baby crawls all over me count as shavasana?”
- On life goals: I’m going to be a writer someday (imagines lifetime ahead of me) versus I’m going to be a writer someday (sees time running out).
- On backs: Why do so many people complain about their backs all the time? versus I got up wrong from the couch and now I’m going to have to lie down for the rest of the afternoon.
- On love: Oh, I can’t wait until I meet ‘the one’! versus Yeah, I met and married my best friend, yada yada yada. Now he doesn’t bother concealing his farts from me anymore.
- More on love: You’re so sweet and reliable. B-O-R-I-N-G! versus You’re so sweet and reliable. Marry me!
- On clothes: Buys fast fashion to keep up with trends versus I’m going to find the perfect t-shirt that will last forever. The next t-shirt I buy will be the t-shirt I die in.
- On jeans: Skinny jeans all the way. versus Jeans? Do they stretch?
- On ordering at restaurants: “Everything looks so good! What do you recommend?” versus “I’ll have the Caesar salad, no croutons, dressing and parmesan cheese on the side, and if it’s made with iceberg instead of romaine, I’ll have something else.”
- On fitness: A Zumba class, a strength class, and hot yoga back-to-back? Bring it on! versus I sneezed too hard and now my arm hurts. At least sneezing counts as an ab workout, right?
- On public addresses: I hate when people call me “Sweetie”. versus I hate when people call me “Ma’am”.
- Word association: “Silicone”: Breast implants versus baking mat.
- On relationships: My subconscious: I’m going to push people away to see if they stay. versus My conscience: I’ve got to treat people well so I don’t lose them.
- On dinner: A bowl of cereal and a bag of popcorn versus chickpea pasta with homemade pesto and roasted vegetables.
- On social obligations: “Count me in!” versus “I’ll let you know if it fits into my priorities right now.”
- On weather: Stands in line for an hour in sub-zero temperatures in a dress and trench coat for seats to a comedy show — doesn’t feel a thing versus I forget to wear my fleece hat as I walk from the parking lot to the grocery store on a crisp fall day — and now I have a tickle in my throat.
- On hair: It’s so hard to take care of this much hair! versus Oh, I guess I can wrap my hairband around my ponytail one more time.
- More on hair: Grey hair? Isn’t that for really old people? versus If I pluck this new grey hair out, will three more come to its funeral (à la Sex and The City)?
- “This shit is gonna be lit!”: I say to my friends as we walk to the new club downtown versus What I say to myself as I drive to the fabric store.
- On driving: Why are they going so slow? versus Why are they going so fast?
- Housing pet peeve: Roommates who never clean the shared bathroom versus boob light fixtures.
- On what’s important: Being successful and impressing others to feel good about myself versus living life to its fullest with the people I care about.
Sometimes, you can only see where you are by looking back at where you’ve been. 30-somethings, how do your 30s differ from your 20s? 40-somethings, 50-somethings, 60-somethings and beyond, what’s in store for us 20 and 30-somethings in the future? 20-somethings, how do you hope your life will be different in your 30s? As Margaret Wheatley says, “Life doesn’t know what it will be until it notices what it has become.”
Thanks for reading and wishing you well wherever you are in your journey!