I fought back tears as I stared at the 30 candles on my birthday cake. Turning 30 felt like a horrifying milestone I had wanted to avoid because I had bought into society's lies for so long: that a woman's 20s are her prime and that she should have everything, everything, everything sorted out by 30.
In some ways, the 30 lie didn't hold up. As I entered the new decade, I realized that there were some beautiful things about the age. I didn't care as much about what people thought of me, and I was closer to sorting out who I was and what made me happy. Still, there were aspects about turning 30 that didn't sit well.
In my 30s, it feels like if I think about food, I pack on weight. Gone were the days of my 20s when I could eat anything I wanted, sleep all day, and still have the perfect waistline. Also, I'm at that age where if I wake up without a random body part hurting, it's a good day. I've found myself at an age where I'm too young to completely transform into the little old lady knitting with her cats but too old to go clubbing or understand the new lingo all about (Cap? What?).
In many ways, the idea that my 20s were my prime feels somewhat true.
However, these past couple of weeks, I've challenged that notion thanks to an unexpected influence: Selling Sunset. Unless you've been living under a rock, I'm sure you've seen at least clips of the real estate show that's taken Netflix by storm.
I'll be honest: I tried to watch it a few months ago and hated it. Why would I want to watch glamorous people from California sell immaculate, insanely priced mansions I would never afford or even particularly want? Still, the easy pace of summer called me in, and I found once I got through episode one, I was hooked.
I know what you're thinking: a reality show? Really? That's the secret to overcoming your slump in your 30s? And I'll admit, it seems like an unlikely, unworthy candidate for inspiration. After all, it is a reality show, a phrase most Americans utter with condescending scorn even though behind their closed curtains, they secretly can't stop watching. And admittedly, the show has a lot of negative influences that certainly don't foster positivity. There's a lot of cattiness, drama, and rude behavior that makes for good viewing and not good character. Add to that the superficiality of the show to an extent (Does anyone need to have that fancy of a dinner? That baby shower probably cost more than ten of my houses, etc), and you have a recipe for a horrible thing to base your self-worth off of.
Still, behind the luxurious mansions and over-the-top outfits that many of us tune in for, I think there's also a message that I found inspiring. The women in the show are boss babes in their own right. Love them or hate them, they all are selling their way to independence, to the top of their careers, and to success. And what I find to be most interesting is that these aren't women in their 20s. They are largely women in their 30s and even 40s.
Watching women who are supposedly "past their prime" be anything but was the kick in the pants I needed to get out of my 30s blues. I know, I know. Some of you are arguing that certainly no one could be past their prime if they had millions to spend on couture clothes, Botox, and personal trainers. Still, putting the money aside, the fact that these women in their 30s and 40s are owning their lives, the screens, and their confidence is something positive to take away from the "trashy reality" show.
Sure, I might not have millions in expendable income. I might not have anywhere in my life that warrants wearing a dress Beyonce once wore. I might not have the expensive makeup or swimming pool or any of the things they do. Still, there is one thing I can have that doesn't cost a thing: confidence.
Society tells us that your 20s are your time to be the "it" girl in your life, to be the woman everyone is watching. But I think that's a lie. Despite the slowing metabolism and random back aches, I think your 30s can be exactly that, too, if you make up your mind to own it. So can your 40s, 60s, 70s, 100s. Truly. It's a decision we all make to own our lives, no matter what that looks like.
I think, too, you can achieve this confidence and status without having millions. It isn't about couture looks or perfect makeup. It's about finding what makes you feel like a boss babe. Maybe it's just getting a single new outfit from T.J. Maxx (sorry, not sorry, Christine, yes, I do love T.J. Maxx). Maybe it's getting that $2 red lipstick that makes you feel bomb. Maybe it's just in the way you walk or in looking in the mirror and telling yourself you're a "bad bitch" and wiping away the tears.
It might seem stupid to get a confidence boost from a reality show on Netflix. But I think what's even more ridiculous is that as women, we let the number of candles on our cake influence how we feel. We let the decade we're in quiet us down. We let our age dictate how far into the background we think we should fall.
I think it's time we all find our inner Christine (minus the meanness), Crishell, Heather, or Amanza and realize we're all capable of being a boss babe--regardless of where we live, our bank accounts, how much our purse cost, or how many candles are on our cake.
10/10/2022 08:46:12 am
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USA TODAY Bestselling Thriller author with Avon Books (HarperCollins), The Widow Next Door, The Diary of a Serial Killer's Daughter, and other creepy thriller books