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  • Dear Katie,

    Right now 30 is incomprehensible to you because you have so many other things to worry about. And you will find plenty to worry about, kiddo. A new one each day, if you look for it. And in your late 20s, 30 will be on that infinite list.

    However, turning 30 is not as difficult as you will imagine it to be. At 30, you are already on the other side of several more difficult life events. But neither do you feel pride in earning your stripes. 30 simply is. It is one record of your existence, and a dim one at that. It tells nothing of experience or character. How those years are filled is completely up to the individual.

    In 30 years you’ve had immense career enjoyment, even though you followed a surprising path. You will win awards and see your face on a billboard. You will make movies, speak at events and travel the world. None of these things feel as glamorous as they sound — but only because of the bias you harbor against yourself. It’s hard to shake the feeling that our truest self is nerdy and gap-toothed, even if we aren’t anymore (surprise!).

    Magazines say 30 is the new 20, but their choice in models speaks volumes about their obsession with youth. The subtext is that women lose relevance and worthiness after a particular age. This doesn’t sit well with you, because you plan on using your years to accumulate iconicness.

    The media is not society. It sells to it, but does not speak for it. It represents a fraction of a percentage of the diversity of life here. One look around the airport you’re writing this from will confirm that.

    20 was 20 and 30 is 30. But at 30, you feel more relevant and worthy than 20. You have self-confidence, possibly for the first time in your life. You have identified what makes you happy. You’ve recognized your own agency in attaining that for yourself.

    Most of these changes occurred slowly over time. But if the actual transition to 30 has changed anything, it’s this: more aware of the passing of time, you have sharpened your focus. The amount of energy misspent hating yourself in your youth has manifested in an increased sense of urgency in making your life into one that you love. Your impetuosity has always caused you self doubt. But we have always known what kind of person we wanted to be, haven’t we? We’re on our way.

    A birthday voicemail from your best friend asks you how to do it, how to turn 30. The answer is the same for how to do anything in life. With grace and fierce determination.


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