Do you remember the episode of Sex and the City when Carrie is profiled by New York Magazine and the headline on the cover reads “Single and Fabulous?” She was misled into thinking the feature was “Single and Fabulous!” (exclamation point), not “Single and Fabulous?” (question mark).
It’s funny what a little punctuation can do to change the meaning of a phrase. For the past few years, I’ve tossed and turned thinking about my own question marks and exclamation points as I grew closer to turning 30. How do I feel about children? Is he the one? Am I happy? I would ponder these questions and follow them up with supportive statements like I am smart! I am kind! I am important! (OK, OK. I may have borrowed that from The Help.)
For some reason, turning 30 was a big deal to me. Maybe because it’s an age that truly shows how much you’ve learned and grown over the years, all while still feeling like you have so much to learn and look forward to. I used to be scared to enter this “grown-up” club, thinking I needed to hit certain goals before I entered this age (marriage, kids, etc.) But those were the goals of my young, innocent 18-year-old self—the part of me that hadn’t quite experienced life and its rollercoaster rides. So while my 18-year-old self thought I should have been married and settled by now, my 30-year-old self gives me a round of applause for not marrying the wrong guy and holding out for someone who will truly make me happy without compromising myself—because I deserve it.
I think that above everything else is what separates your 30s from your 20s: the confidence to know that you deserve to be happy in every aspect of your life, on your terms. I am now a part of this Dirty and Thirty Club (my birthday was Aug. 3), and I am so excited about it. I am 30 years old, smart, talented, funny and above all else, a loyal daughter, sister and friend. I am single, self-sufficient and healthy, and I love the empowerment that comes with this age. They say your life begins at 30, and I think that’s true. All of the learning curves and building blocks of my 20s have led me here, at 30, where I can build upon my skills and experiences to enhance my life in every aspect: emotionally, physically, spiritually. I find great comfort and excitement in this.
Sure, there are some other adjustments that come with getting older; for example, trading in my tanning oil for anti-aging cream. But they say you only look as old as you feel—and I feel like I’m still in my 20s but with the self-assuredness that comes with 30. I’ve even been carded and mistaken for 23 several times in the past couple months—and I’ve loved every minute of it.
I spent my birthday with family and friends, laughing and dancing and celebrating being me. As one of my 30-something friends said to me on my birthday, “Welcome to the ‘I feel 25 club.’”
So nevermind the hesitation of “30 and fabulous?” (question mark) that my 20s kept instilling into my brain. Now that I’ve made it to the other side, I can already tell it’s going to be “30 and fabulous!” (exclamation point) from here on out.
Cheers to being 30, dirty and fabulous!
Jennifer Whalen is an editor, writer, former newspaper reporter and lifelong pop enthusiast who currently resides in sunny Florida. Born in New York, she spent half her childhood growing up in the Midwest, and later earned a journalism and Spanish degree from Indiana University. In addition to her family, friends, the color purple and anything channeled from the '80s, she enjoys meeting new people and traveling to new places.