So, I have a confession to make. I’m kind of a magazine junkie. I’ve always had more magazine subscriptions than anyone I’ve ever known, but it’s just because I love to read and as much as I love the internet, there’s nothing quite like the feeling of turning an actual physical page. Also, when I was in elementary school, my family always had to participate in some type of fundraising and the only thing my parents felt like buying or selling were magazine subscriptions. Anyway, one of my many magazine subscriptions is to Elle magazine and there’s an interesting advice column called “Ask E. Jean”. It’s kind of a funny/sad advice column that you’d expect to find in a fashion magazine. Most questions are about relationship woes or career troubles. I thought this excerpt expressed a common concern for anyone in their post-college years:
JANE EYRE HAD LIVED, LIKE, 17 LIVES BY THE TIME SHE TURNED 23
DEAR E. JEAN: Serious question: Does life actually get better after you get past your twenties? Success was already starting to happen to the Bronte sisters by the time they reached my age: 23. I’m falling behind my peers and I feel I can’t catch up! Please tell me the thirties are better.
—Your Wilting Gardenia
GARDENIA, YOU YOUNG BLOCKHEAD: Bah! You’ll spend your thirties regretting how you fouled up your twenties if you run around comparing yourself with those three little English stiffs. A live girl is better than a dead icon.
Because, if you’re lucky, you’ll live many lives, Miss G. And if you’re very lucky, you’ll live several of those lives in your twenties. To help you understand that blazing thirties begin with the decisions you make in your twenties–the torrid twenties!–I’ve chosen, as my afternoon’s employment, to examine all the letters from women in their thirties (men deserve their own study) that the Ask Eeee column has received in the past two years. Here are my findings:
The (Unofficial) Top 10 Things Women in Their Thirties Regret Having Done in Their Twenties
1. Marrying the wrong chap
2. Starting their careers too late
3. Losing their lissome figures
4. Having kids too soon
5. Not marrying the right chap when he asked
6. Living the lives their parents wanted
7. Running no risks
8. Pursuing no purpose
9. Never quite believing in themselves
10. Sticking with a series of chumps, dickweeds, and halfwits, all of whom ended up borrowing money
The lamentations from correspondents regarding number seven alone, Miss Gardenia, would cause you to push through the violent hordes of your competitive contemporaries and seize the day! According to Meg Jay, PhD, author of The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter–and How to Make the Most of Them Now, two-thirds of career wage growth happens in the first 10 years of working.
So get the best job you can get (Jeremy Renner took gigs as a makeup artist when he couldn’t get past a callback), keep a playful attitude, run some risks, and admire the backs of your thighs—they’ll never be as tight again. In your twenties you’re the scriptwriter of your life. In your thirties, you’re the script doctor.
Also, for those of you interested in some additional literary resources, please check out these other books that are perfect for the struggling, confused twenty-something adult:
1. Adulting: How to Become a Grown-up in 468 Easy(ish) Steps by Kelly Williams Brown
“If you graduated from college but still feel like a student . . . if you wear a business suit to job interviews but pajamas to the grocery store . . . if you have your own apartment but no idea how to cook or clean . . . it’s OK. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
Just because you don’t feel like an adult doesn’t mean you can’t act like one. And it all begins with this funny, wise, and useful book. Based on Kelly Williams Brown’s popular blog, ADULTING makes the scary, confusing “real world” approachable, manageable-and even conquerable. This guide will help you to navigate the stormy Sea of Adulthood so that you may find safe harbor in Not Running Out of Toilet Paper Bay, and along the way you will learn:
What to check for when renting a new apartment-Not just the nearby bars, but the faucets and stove, among other things.
When a busy person can find time to learn more about the world- It involves the intersection of NPR and hair-straightening.
How to avoid hooking up with anyone in your office — Imagine your coworkers having plastic, featureless doll crotches. It helps.
The secret to finding a mechanic you love-Or, more realistically, one that will not rob you blind.
From breaking up with frenemies to fixing your toilet, this way fun comprehensive handbook is the answer for aspiring grown-ups of all ages.”
– J.J. Abrams – Writer, Director, Producer
2. How to Be Interesting: (In 10 Simple Steps) by Jessica Hagy
“Do you want to leave a mark, not a blemish. Be a hero, not a spectator. You want to be interesting. (Who doesn’t?) But sometimes it takes a nudge, a wake-up call, an intervention!—and a little help. This is where Jessica Hagy comes in. A writer and illustrator of great economy, charm, and insight, she’s created How to Be Interesting, a uniquely inspirational how-to that combines fresh and pithy lessons with deceptively simple diagrams and charts.
Ms. Hagy started on Forbes.com, where she’s a weekly blogger, by creating a “How to Be Interesting” post that went viral, attracting 1.4 million viewers so far, with tens of thousands of them liking, linking, and tweeting the article. Now she’s deeply explored the ideas that resonated with so many readers to create this small and quirky book with a large and universal message. It’s a book about exploring: Talk to strangers. About taking chances: Expose yourself to ridicule, to risk, to wild ideas. About being childlike, not childish: Remember how amazing the world was before you learned to be cynical. About being open: Never take in the welcome mat. About breaking routine: Take daily vacations . . . if only for a few minutes. About taking ownership: Whatever you’re doing, enjoy it, embrace it, master it as well as you can. And about growing a pair: If you’re not courageous, you’re going to be hanging around the water cooler, talking about the guy that actually is.”
“Beautiful words, beautiful ideas – my friend Susie has written a beautiful book” –Dr. Robert Holden, bestselling author of Happiness Now! and Shift Happens!
“An empowering guide for transforming your life, Instructions for Happiness and Successprovides you with the tools and guidance you need to harness joy and prosperity. Using the wisdom of the universe and her experience as a mentor to celebrities, entrepreneurs, and business leaders, author Susie Pearl has honed in on the key steps you can implement to create a richer and more meaningful life.
Designed as an interactive workbook, this book begins the journey toward satisfaction by reshaping the way you think. With motivating affirmations, visualization audios, and revelatory exercises, you will not only learn how to nurture a positive spirit and fully appreciate the good that’s already around you, but also how to channel this new and constructive energy to bring even more happiness and success into your life. Her revelatory exercises, which help clarify your values, will further enrich your existence as you learn more about yourself and how to be happy in any situation.”