I feel like I went to sleep the night before the pandemic in March of 2020 as a fresh-faced 31-year-old still using the skincare products a man working in Sephora recommended to me in my 20s. Then, four years later in 2024, I woke up in my mid-30s covered in wrinkles and surrounded by expensive skincare products that, let’s face it, might not be doing anything at all?!

I’m not sure if the pandemic made me lose the first half of my 30s—OR if this is just how your 30s are: fast, boring, and yet somehow life-changing at the same time. So much happens, but also on a day-to-day basis, nothing happens. It’s a lot of everything and a lot of nothing. Yet, at the same time, there’s these life-altering things that happen—like the time I did IVF and had a baby, and the time I moved from the city to the suburbs, and the time I bought a house. Yet somehow it feels like I’ve been sitting on the couch watching the same series on Netflix for three years?!???? How?

My 30s are flying by, but I feel like my 20s lasted forever.

What’s crazy is that I thought my 20s were passing me by as they happened. But that’s probably because I had something back then that I don’t seem to have now: Time.

There was so much time in my 20s. In a 7-day time period, there was time for working out and working and cooking and going out with friends multiple times a week and seeing family and running errands and being lazy and more. Now, I spend my entire week working and parenting. I barely have enough time to do anything aside from absolutely necessary tasks that may or may not be possible to complete. And when I do have time, it’s short and fleeting, so I often spend it on the couch with the television on while staring at my phone and switching between 12 different apps like an ADHD zombie. Then on the weekend, I spend literally 70% of my time chasing around a toddler, 29% hyping myself up to go grocery shopping, and 1% succumbing to the Instacart Gods and ordering groceries for delivery even though there’s a major up-charge because I can never fucking make it to the grocery store despite the fact I am usually doing *nothing.*

When I think back to my 20s, I was doing *everything.* Yet, I still had time to go to the grocery store along with 6,500 other things, like running a website, which I spent the entire decade doing FOR FUN. Where did I find the time? I mean, it’s taken me over 5 years to launch this new website and write some articles for it, one of which you’re reading right now! I’ve been talking about launching a new website since I turned 30—but as soon as that happened, life got away from me and now I’m 35 and it’s like… where in the fucking fuck did that time go? What did I do with it?

With the crazy fast passing of time, is it possible to change in your 30s like you did in your 20s?

At 21, I was an immature, naive college student. At 24, I was an immature, naive “working professional.” The only real difference was that at 24, I was living in an apartment with my then-boyfriend-now-husband working my 3rd real world job. However, I was still the same broke idiot who made terrible decisions with no regard for her future because the future felt light-years away.

A decade later, I was 31. Unlike 21 and 24 year old me, I was a married lady trying to have a baby and move to the suburbs. Then all of a sudden I was a mom turning 35 in her newly purchased home. Sounds like my life drastically changed, but let’s be honest here—I was still the same bitch. Just, like, really tired and not as broke as I used to be.

I think when it comes down to it, noticing change takes time. It’s like when I ask my husband if I look like I’ve lost weight after I eat one piece of lettuce and do a single workout. Even if I have lost weight, he sees me every day. He’s going to have a hard time noticing it—especially if I lose weight slowly over the course of a few weeks or months. And that’s how it is with life. You live your life every day. It’s always going to seem like ~nothing is changing~ even though over the course of a year or two or years, everything can change. Looking in the mirror, it’s hard to see it. But looking at those before and afters, the change is more than apparent.

So maybe I am changing. Maybe things are happening. Perhaps it’s hard for me to see because I’m in it every day doing what feels like the same shit—but maybe there are moments of growth I’m missing. I guess when this decade is wrapping up for me, I’ll look at my before and after and spot the differences. Until we get there, though, I’ll try harder to be present and do the most I can while knowing I don’t have to have massive change in a small amount of time to grow. I mean, weight loss is best when it’s slow and gradual over time—not when it’s a ton of change at once. And a little bit of progress in life with a lot of binge watching mixed in is fine with me. Here’s to slow growth and hard-to-notice progress and enjoying the life that happens between the before and afters.

Author

Hi! I'm a 30-something mom who is part of the SPICE GIRLS GENERATION aka an older millennial. This is my new website Forever Millennials! I’m the author of Average is the New Awesome: A Manifesto for the Rest of Us, a humorous self-help book that was published in 2020 by Seal Press/Hachette, and the person behind the Instagram account @averagepeopleproblems. Before launching this site, I ran the website Forever Twenty Somethings for many years. My work can be seen on Parents, USA TODAY, Women’s Health, HuffPost, Cosmopolitan, Reviewed, Seventeen, Good Housekeeping, and more. I live in a suburb outside Boston, MA with my husband, toddler, and 300 pounds of clothes I have been saying I need to post to Poshmark for the past 3 years.

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