Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

30 Things That Will (Probably) Happen in Your 30s


In September, I’ll turn 38. I’m at the age now where, when people ask how old I am, it takes me a minute to remember. I don’t know if that’s because I’ve already been 37 different ages and it’s hard to keep straight which one I am now, or if it’s because I’m in denial, or if it’s because I am going senile. Maybe a combination of all of the above. Regardless, my 30s have flown by and soon they will be but a memory. So, in an effort to preserve the memory I have left (or at least keep a record of it), and to celebrate what has been an amazing decade so far, here are 30 things that have happened to me in my 30s (and will probably happen to you too):

1. If your friends live more than a few blocks away, instead of seeing them several times a week, you’ll see them, like, several times a year, max.

2. You will have to leave H&M within ten minutes of being inside because the music is awful, the dressing room lines are way too long, and the clothes look like they won’t last ’til next Friday.

3. Binge-watching a TV show is more appealing that binge-drinking on a Saturday night.

4. You won’t have vacations anymore; you’ll just have weddings to go to. (Or family to visit).

5. Doing work you like with people you don’t hate will be more important than earning and growth potential.

6. If you’re still single, you’ll re-think some of those deal-breakers that were so important in your 20s. (You’ll also re-think your profile on OKCupid. Again and again).

7. “No” will get easier and easier to say.

8. Weight will get harder and harder to maintain.

9. You’ll develop a drinking strategy — like, two hard drinks and then switch to beer for the rest of the night; or, one glass of water for every glass of wine — to help avoid hangovers.

10. It only sort of works.

11. You will no longer obsess or really even think about whether so-and-so likes you or not, because ain’t no one got time for that shit.

12. You’ll join and quit a gym approximately seven times. (And you’ll take up running because everyone on your Facebook feed seems to be running a race and maybe it will help you get in shape).

13. Daytime parties will be full of kids (some of them yours) and you will probably be called “Aunt” or “Uncle” by several of them, regardless of whether you’re actually related.

14. No one will have real parties anymore. Except for when they do. And when that happens, you’ll instagram the shit out of it because you just have to record it for posterity.

15. You’ll crowdsource blender recommendations on Facebook and get about 73 different responses.

16. You’ll become the executor of your parents’ will(s) and will discuss what their wishes are should something happen to them.

17. One of the best and most exciting purchases of the whole decade will be the brand new bed you buy.

18. A close second will be a new washer and dryer.

19. Every once in a while you’ll think about how much student loan debt you still have to pay off, and you will cry.

20. You or one of your best friends will get divorced.

21. You or one of your close friends will have fertility problems.

22. Someone you went to high school with will become a grandparent.

23. I’ll just let that one sink in a minute.

24. I mean, it probably won’t happen ’til the end of your 30s, but still. You are old enough to be a grandparent. Technically.

25. You will suspect you have a gluten allergy. Or maybe you’re lactose intolerant. Suddenly, you’ll be ordering everything “on the side” and carrying Tums with you at all times.

26. If you’re single, you’ll date someone with a kid at some point.

27. And it will make you question whether you want one of your own.

28. Between the dermatologist appointments, endocrinologist appointments, chiropractor appointments, prenatal check-ups, and your kids’ wellness visits, you spend approximately 60% of your life at the doctor’s office.

29. You’ll do a juice cleanse because everyone keeps talking about how awesome they are and how great you’ll feel and how clear your mind will be.

30. You’ll cave on the second day and eat a burger and it will be the best damn burger you’ve ever eaten in your whole entire life and you’ll be all, “Everyone’s right! I DO feel amazing!”

43 comments… add one
  • TECH June 24, 2014, 1:10 pm

    I feel most of these things now, and I’m still in my 20’s. But I feel very old for my age.

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    • Portia June 24, 2014, 1:32 pm

      Over a third of those already apply to me too (probably over half if without the single stuff) and I’ve still got a few years til 30…

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  • Elisse June 24, 2014, 1:26 pm

    I’m 31 and about 1/3 of these things have happened/are happening to me already…but the grandparent thing?! Dear Lord have mercy!

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    • zombeyonce June 24, 2014, 9:31 pm

      It is pretty crazy. My sister is about to become a grandmother, and she’s only 35. !!! (She started a bit early and her daughter apparently is, too.) Which means I’m going to be a 32-year old great aunt. That is seriously weird.

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      • Marcie June 25, 2014, 10:23 am

        My niece is 22 and I’m old enough to be a great aunt…

  • honeybeenicki June 24, 2014, 1:29 pm

    I’m still in my late 20s and a lot of these already apply to me. Of course, the grandparent one freaks me out a lot because TECHNICALLY I could be a grandparent right now (since my bonus daughter is almost 17!). Yikes.

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  • Miel June 24, 2014, 1:38 pm

    The grandparent point made me laugh. I remember when my sister called us to announce “I’m going to be a grandmother!!!” She was maybe 35. Her only son was 5 or so. Everybody was confused. The real story is that her husband is much older than she is, and he had a son before meeting her, and the son was also 30 or so at that time. And the son was having a kid. So my sister’s husband was actually becoming a grandfather and my sister jumped on the train and became a “grandmother”.

    So… even with everybody having a kid in their 30’s, it can happen !

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  • Kate June 24, 2014, 1:46 pm

    I just turned 39, and some of those are true for me(drinking strategy, seeing friends less, weight harder to maintain, friends with fertility problems, people getting divorced – that happened for me in my 20s though).

    A lot of them aren’t true for me, maybe in large part because I decided not to have kids. So, no staying home watching TV on Saturday nights, no doctor visits, no fertility problems personally. And since I’m not that domestic, the blender, washer/dryer stuff isn’t a big deal.

    As far as working with people I don’t hate being more important than earning and growth potential, well… it’s true, but I don’t want to sacrifice the earning and growth potential, so I either figure out how to work with a certain person, or how to NEVER work with them again. It’s easier to do that when you’ve been at a company for a while and have more seniority. So if I hate someone, chances are I know how to play the game better than they do and get out of the bad situation. But yeah, you gotta do SOMETHING so you’re not sick to your stomach before work.

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  • Diablo June 24, 2014, 1:46 pm

    I didn’t have any trouble maintaining my weight in my 30s. In fact, I was able to add to it significantly.

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    • ktfran June 24, 2014, 1:59 pm

      That made me lol. Thanks!

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    • honeybeenicki June 24, 2014, 2:23 pm

      I almost spit out my grape and I did knock over my water bottle. And now I’m seriously worried that the weight I’m losing IS going to be the best 10/20/30 lbs I have! Where are my cookies??

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      • Diablo June 24, 2014, 3:20 pm

        Stay calm. Weight loss is one of the easiest problems to correct. And yes, cookies should about do it.

      • honeybeenicki June 24, 2014, 4:21 pm

        Oh good, I have plenty of Thin Mints in my desk drawer (and can I say that I think “Thin Mints” is a totally misleading name for a cookie?)

      • Diablo June 24, 2014, 4:46 pm

        See, I don’t kid myself with candy with the word “thin” in the name. I have regular peanut M & M’s in my desk. I just use a little discipline, and eat an M&M ONLY under the following strictly monitored conditions: 1) I am about to pass out from hunger; 2) I experience anxiety over whether it is time to eat an M&M; 3) I have worked hard for upwards of 10 minutes and feel i deserve a reward; or 4) it is daytime. Yep, a little self-control goes a long way. Now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s time for my reward.

      • Crochet.Ninja June 24, 2014, 5:32 pm

        how do you manage to keep plenty of them in a drawer?? i can whip through half a box in less than half an hour…

      • Diablo June 24, 2014, 6:38 pm

        [Mouth full, chewing ferociously] Yike i shed, dishipline….

    • Crochet.Ninja June 24, 2014, 1:48 pm

      Me too Diablo!

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      • Diablo June 24, 2014, 1:53 pm

        The thought that haunts me at night: “What if I lose the BEST 20 pounds I have?”

      • Moneypenny June 24, 2014, 2:26 pm

        You never know what you’ve lost til it’s gone, as they say!

      • Crochet.Ninja June 24, 2014, 5:32 pm

        and when i lose 10 pounds, i loose my boobs. and if that’s not a reason for more cookies, i dont know what is!

  • ktfran June 24, 2014, 2:05 pm

    #21 always makes me so sad.
    Binge watching tv… So, last Friday, I had a couple options after work to go out with friends. And it was relatively nice out, which is rarer and rarer in Chicago. I opted to run a couple errands, pick up a take out order, finish a bottle of rose, and veg out. BUT… coming to that decision was agonizing. Like, I kept thinking, it’s a nice day. I have friends who want to see me. I SHOULD go out. But I just didn’t want to. And I felt guilty. I need to get over that, because Saturday morning, I felt pretty great.
    Does this happen to anyone else?

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    • Moneypenny June 24, 2014, 2:22 pm

      I do that too! My natural state is laying down on the couch with the remote. And the thought of having to go out does not motivate me. But! Many times I do force myself to get off my butt and go have dinner/drinks/whatever, and I end up having a blast, so I think for me I need to keep a balance of both. 🙂

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    • muchachaenlaventana June 24, 2014, 3:48 pm

      Winter yes but spring/summer/fall being outside cannot be missed! next time go out, just don’t overdo it with drinks and be back early (12-1ish) best of both worlds!!

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    • Nookie June 25, 2014, 9:25 am

      Yes, sometimes. I’ve lived with the Cockney for almost 2 years now and I still crave my alone time, and will give up friends to have a little TLC on the couch on my own. Just as long as it’s balanced, right?

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  • Moneypenny June 24, 2014, 2:25 pm

    One of my old high school classmates had a son soon after graduation, and now he’s in middle school and being asked out by girls. She is NOT ready for that! (I can’t imagine.)
    The older I get the more I want to spend my money on domestic things (furniture, odds and ends) over clothing and such. I love getting a West Elm catalogue in the mail!

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    • Moneypenny June 24, 2014, 2:27 pm

      Also! I am an auntie to my nephew, I have also been an auntie to my sister’s dog for the last 10 years or so. Being an auntie is fun!

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    • snoopy128 June 24, 2014, 3:48 pm

      Gah, I’m still in grad school and I want to spend my imaginary money on is domestic things. Something about having a place that is ‘home’ and reflects you/the people in the house.

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  • Rangerchic June 24, 2014, 2:36 pm

    I’m currently 38 and will be 39 in December. I especially relate to the drinking thing…I’ve never been much of a drinker but I’d rather just hang out with family/friends at my house or someone’s house or watch TV or read.
    None of my close friends have been divorced (I have a sister divorced twice).
    But, the grandparent thing really threw me. I had to think for a minute because I have a 19 year old daughter…technically I could become a grandmother now at any age. That makes me want to gag because I’m to young…I now know how my mother must have felt when I told her I was pregnant at 19. Geez.
    And I do carry tums with me all. the. time. 🙂

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  • gigi June 24, 2014, 2:37 pm

    Only a very few of these are true for me. But then again, I may not be the definition of “normal” I guess…

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  • Liquid Luck June 24, 2014, 3:24 pm

    I’m just over halfway through my 20s, and only 3 of these don’t apply to me (I’ve even gone through all the “if you’re single” ones, and not recently either). And yes, my bed is amazing and my washer and dryer are so pretty and wonderful. I’m incredibly sad we have to leave them behind for a few years when we move.
    None of my friends are grandparents yet, but my goddaughter turned 12 this year. She comes from a long line of teenage mothers (her mom was 13 when she got pregnant the first time, and her great-grandmother is my mom’s age!), so I’m terrified she’s going to come home pregnant any day now, even though she’s a much smarter kid than her mother (my best friend from high school). Hopefully she’ll be the one to break the cycle.

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  • Stefanie June 24, 2014, 3:39 pm

    Oh my goodness is the TRUTH! I love my career in non profit that allows me to work with wonderful people and go home early when my kiddo needs an extra snuggle over that career I thought I wanted in government. It is also lovely for planning all those “family visiting/wedding vacations”. All one a year.

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  • SpaceySteph June 24, 2014, 4:44 pm

    Things that already happened to me in my 20s:
    1-4, 8, 13, 14, 18, 20, 21,

    Also given that I knew at least one girl in high school who got pregnant at 14 (rough neighborhood), #22 may already have happened. I may go try to find her on facebook to see…

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  • Miss MJ June 24, 2014, 4:44 pm

    Oh, my god, yes to the bed purchase. I was almost more excited about my new bed than my new car. Almost.

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  • bunnybear June 24, 2014, 5:43 pm

    Youll think you are having a heart attack but it’ll just be heartburn. And you’ll have to be vigilant about consumption of coffee and bacon. And you’ll always carry Pepsid just in case another food you love becomes a trigger.

    Also…conversations with your BFF will move from men, career, and travel to blood pressure, cholesterol, and the latest weird place you found a gray hair.

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  • Sue Jones June 24, 2014, 5:45 pm

    Yep on the grandparent thing… at my 20th high school reunion one of my friends was already a grandparent! Now at almost 53 several of my high school friends are and that is still weird because my own kid just finished elementary school… I hope that it will be quite a while before I am actually a grandparent. I will make sure that he knows how to use a condom!

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  • csp June 24, 2014, 6:12 pm

    These are so true! One I would add is that you start having more adult conversations about Interest rates, 401ks, tax write-offs, etc.. The biggest thing that happens in your 30s is the respect and pressure of taking your place in adulthood. You now have 10+ years of industry experience and you are moving up in the world. People become homeowners and parents, and while many of those things happen in your 20s, the shift that it happens to most of your friends is what changes in your 30s.

    As for the grandparent thing, my grandmother was a grandmother at 39. She married at 18 and had her first baby at 19. My aunt then was married at 19 and had her first kid at 20. It is crazy to think about. I have a friend that married a grandmother who was 39. More importantly, my husband and I realize when we get annoyed with teenagers, that we are old enough to be their parents.

    The final thing that is the most poignant is just how different people’s lives turn out. So we have some friends at 35 that have never moved out of their parents’ home or others who have never had a steady job in 15 years. Then there are others living in large suburban homes with two kids and just bought a shore house. Some friends are still at minimum wage and others have just closed in on their first million. It is crazy just how different people are.

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    • Dear Wendy June 24, 2014, 6:47 pm

      I was going to add one that said something along the lines of: “You’ll have friends your age who are broke and you’ll know someone your age who’s a millionaire.” (That’s true for me, but then I thought maybe it wouldn’t necessarily be true for everyone. But, yeah, I think gaps among your and your peers’ lifestyles gets much, much wider in your 30s.).

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      • zombeyonce June 24, 2014, 9:42 pm

        I enjoy having a group of friends that are in different places and fields; it makes our conversations incredibly interesting. Our last girls’ night conversation covered all of the following topics in great detail:
        -laser hair removal vs. not giving a shit about hairy armpits
        -tax laws about selling a main residence versus second home
        -how muscular a FWB’s thighs are (with accompanying photographic evidence)
        -misogyny in society and how we hope the fact that it seems to be getting worse really means that we’re finally making a big enough deal about it to change it
        -how much we all love cheese
        -all the problems we have when we eat too much cheese

      • csp June 25, 2014, 9:20 am

        Depending on where someone lives, it might not be a million but there are definitely people who are wildly successful and others that are still at the starting gate.

  • fast eddie June 25, 2014, 8:11 am

    Hang in there gang, it’ll get worse, much worse. Circa 1940s I remember:
    Building a fire in the stove with coal to make water hot.
    Hoping the ice man would leave some chips to suck on a hot day.
    Making a pie shell and noodles from scratch.
    Walking home from school to make my sick mothers lunch.
    Our first telephone, you picked it up and the operator said: Number please.
    Listening to singing cowboys on the radio on Saturday night.
    Discovering that women all had (large) breasts in the cartoons.
    It took $50,000 to be rich which was very unlikely to happen.
    If I rubbed my pee-pee for few minutes it felt really good.

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    • Cymepkee June 25, 2014, 9:56 am

      The passage of time is crazy. That’s not even that long ago, but I bet kids now would have no idea what an ice man was. They look at me like I’m insane when I try to describe dialup internet.

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  • _s_ June 25, 2014, 9:45 pm

    Yes. I definitely have a drinking strategy. Right now I’m at a whiskey pairing dinner, alternating with water and pacing myself. Feelin’ good!

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  • _s_ June 25, 2014, 9:46 pm

    Now where’s that Drunk DW thread?!?

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