ON TURNING 30

April 21, 2015

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IT WAS THE BEST OF TIMES AND IT WAS THE WORST OF TIMES…

Is there any better way to sum up one’s 20’s? That long, messy, magic, tumultuous decade of challenging comfort, defining self, low risk and high energy. Low risk because as much as the world might tell you that you’ve got to have it all figured out by 30, you’ll eventually realize how little these numbers matter in terms of maturity, wisdom, capabilities, or lack-thereof. Which is why I’m surprised to honestly feel any different now at 30 — especially considering the fact that if you asked any day-job clients, I’ve been in my 30’s for years. When I began my journey as a professional at 20 I quickly realized (lest you had any doubts) there are few things the world trusts less than 20-year-old girls. I’ve been fibbing about my age ever since, and each year the age that I thought of as sounding the most serious — carrying the most promise of maturity — has grown exponentially. At 20, I actually thought it was 21. The next year I was already upping it to 25, and by 25 I was in my early 30’s. If you asked my mother she’ll tell you I’ve always wanted to be older than I am. When she used to wish me happy birthday — you’re 7! my response was apparently — I can’t wait until I’m 8… I wish I was turning 9... For a long time I felt that I was so close to adulthood, but the number on my driver’s license kept it always just out of reach…

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But now I am legitimately at an age that in some small sense finally conveys to the world the weight I feel my years have earned — which must explain the unexpected sense of relief. As 30 is universally considered kind of a big deal I drove myself, some books, my journal and a camera to the foggy, windswept, magical Marin headlands. I thought I would finally have the time to indulge in some reflection; to put together a list of what I’ve learned and what values I want to take forward into my 30’s. But I’m sure you readers know me too well — before I’d typed or written the first word it was time to pack up and drive home. But I did read a good book (Cool Gray City of Love); I let my feet and mind wander up and down the rainy hills; and I cooked carrots in as many ways as I could imagine.

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This adorable Rickshaw SF bag was a birthday gift from the lovely Annie & fit everything I needed for a weekend away

The other month the editor of Bon Appétite wrote that he knew he was turning 45 because of how often he spent dinner eating in, eating less, and sharing plates. I may be 15 years younger but I am so there. My CSA box has been hugely influential in encouraging me to eat more at home, and the editor had some great tips for any age. Eat less. Eat seasonally. If eating animal protein have half as much as a restaurant would normally serve (or split a plate). Less empty calories. To help with that I’ve gone from experiments in going gluten free to treating carbs as though it were cake — eating it once in a while as a special occasion. I would have never imagined giving up bread in the past, but at this point in life, I’ve eaten a lot of really great bread. And a lot of great restaurant meals (thank you San Francisco). I treated myself well in my twenties, and now I’m going to treat myself even better in the years to come. Quality over quantity, when it comes to calories, to clothes, and also when it comes to people.

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I don’t want to wallow in negativity, but on the other hand if this blog isn’t my small, personal soapbox, then what is? I’ve been stupidly generous to the world at large throughout my life, and figuring out how to balance that out is one of the biggest lessons I’m taking out of my 20’s. I spoke about treating myself right, and for me that means valuing myself more. Throughout my adult life I have constantly given away my resources for free. I’ve spent so much money, energy and time on people who not only don’t return the favor but don’t even thank me in any way for what I’ve done. I’ve made countless dinners, paid for and made countless drinks; loaned money; gotten people jobs and business opportunities; shared connections; ran errands; flown around the world for people; committed time, and even gotten people apartments, homes, and spaces to stay in the most expensive city in the county for no charge. So obviously this is mostly me just being an idiot (doing massive favors has never actually helped a friendship or relationship) but I know I’m not the only one who has felt undervalued or overcommitted. Now not everyone has been unappreciatively, but sadly — and for reasons that continue to baffle me — the majority of people I interacted with in my early twenties (of which my friends today are not a part of) failed to express any gratitude, and to add insult to injury often assumed that if I’ve done one nice thing for them I am henceforth obligated to be their mealticket. It took me a while, but once I acknowledged to myself that I deserved better I began putting my efforts towards the friends that respected me. I still want to be able to do favors for people, and ask people for favors, so I’ve learned to limit those to smaller things that can be more easily reciprocated. To be fair to the other side of the story, I’m sure that some of these people who I feel wronged me, probably felt that they did me some favor or great thing that I in fact never noticed or appreciated, or that they thanked me in some way that I missed, which is why communication, communication, communication is truly the number one lesson I’ve ever learned and is a huge caveat to this. Instead of being resentful or complaining to other people, find a way to start a conversation. Better yet, say no to begin with if I don’t actually feel comfortable with something (yes, that’s still taking over 30 years to learn). If something is really going to consume a lot of my resources don’t be afraid to set a price in advance (not necessarily a monetary one). And keep cultivating your garden; weed out the rotten apples who act as though they’re somehow entitled to your goodwill; recognize and tend to the great ones — there are many of them out there! Time has honed my instinct for that with the percentage of good people in my life getting higher each passing year.

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Setting off to shoot some new blog content in a Free People sweater and dress (last worn here and here)

Wow, I’m so glad I was able to eventually turn around all that cynicism and end on a positive note! Thanks for indulging me in a little birthday venting #iamgoingtobesuchacrochityoldperson. Obviously my life lessons are not everyone’s and I’d love to hear what you’ve learned as you’ve aged. A big topic I know, but please feel free to leave as long or as short of a note as you feel! It’s so wonderful and amazing to me that the blogging  platform allows kindred spirits of all ages and backgrounds to exchange wisdoms and stories around the world with each other. Send me a note in the comments, or email me at threadandbones@gmail.com to start a conversation!

Until next time let’s stay in touch over on twitter and instagram where I’m regularly posting photographs and daily discovers. If you’d like to be notified of new posts head over to facebook or bloglovin’Thank you so much for reading and following me — make sure to send me a note on social media or a comment below so I can follow you back! Cheers!

14 Comments
  1. Happy Happy Birthday! I agree with pretty much everything in this post. No words of wisdom to add from me- you did the job perfectly. I’ll be taking your lessons on appreciation and favors to heart (:

    • jm

      Why thank you so much Georgia! The favors part is such a big topic and I wasn’t sure if I should even tackle it as it’s so complicated but I hope I got the right message across! Thanks for stopping by my dear — happy April <3

  2. Tina

    Beautifully written! I am planning on getting out of my OC bubble this summer…so if you want company…we can celebrate turning 30 together! Love you!

  3. Happy birthday! I am loving this post. As I also turn 30 this year (in September), I could use this kind of wisdom. It an odd age. By all accounts I am an adult, but I don’t necessarily feel like one when I am around people who are older. But I also work at a university library and being around the students definitely makes me feel like an adult sometimes. I think maybe my lesson to learn at 30 is that I actually have it more together than I think I do, and to trust myself. And stay young at heart of course (like they could stop me)!

    • jm

      I completely agree Alia! I guess the point is that adulthood/life is an ever changing process, and there’s never going to be an age where you ‘arrive’ and then stop growing. Those adults older than you probably feel young when they’re around people older then them, etc. etc.. Staying young at heart while continuing to grow and learn is key. Thanks so much for sharing these thoughts ^_^

  4. Oh Jessica, I feel like you just spoke my thoughts exactly (I also just hit that 30 marker, even though when I was teaching 6 years ago, my students all thought I was 29 and brought me cake and flowers to celebrate my “30th” birthday;). You ARE one of the most generous people I’ve come across and I’m so glad you’re making these decisions to value yourself at 30. Sometimes it’s hard to say know, but you’re much too talented and kind to be “giving away your resources for free.” I really value that you’ve been so generous with our friendship in the short time I’ve known you – so THANK YOU! Also – happy birthday! (When was it? Did I miss it?)

    • jm

      Happy birthday yourself Sarah! Oh my goodness I want to hear that entire story from start to finish one of these days! Thank YOU so much — I’m so thrilled to watch our friendship (and cat band) grow =)
      I feel so lucky that my small network of amazing humans has expanded so much in the past year or two. Meeting people like you and growing this relationship is the best thing to come out of this blog!

  5. Oh! HAPPY Birthday! I hope we will have a chance to celebrate together. :)

    I’m SO OLD NOW. (34 in June.) For some reason, turning 30 itself wasn’t super difficult for me- I think the more pensive part is the continuing climb. I was the exact same way- always had a big job in my early 20s (I once used a coworkers ID just to get into a training session in a bar because I was only 19) and always felt older. And now that I’m here? I feel about 22. Maybe 23 on a very wise day.

    I do love, love, love the process you describe above and how you’re using it to shape the NEXT few years. You’re really, really awesome.

    xo

    • jm

      Carla, Carla, Carla. I always get so excited when I see a comment from you! So much real talk here girl — I think I know what you mean about feeling younger and younger. Once you let go of the expectation of ‘becoming/being an adult’ and the pressures people put on themselves in their 20’s and you realize how much time you really do have it’s such a liberating feeling, such a youthful mindset.
      Or maybe it’s also some people move through time in ways that are chronological. Maybe we were 30 and 34 when we were 20. More philosophical musings when we meet for cocktails — let’s make this happen!
      XO

  6. Loved your reflections. Being a 20-something is such a tumultuous time. No one can blame 20-somethings, and yet we deserve all the blame. All the lack of responsibility, the egotism, the brokenness, the self-delusion… it all becomes consequential in adulthood and yet we pretend it’s not. I’m encouraged by your words, actually, because I’ve always felt that somehow I’m not doing what someone in their 20s is supposed to be doing– working to death, drinking to death, sleeping till noon, a walking, suntanned self-promoter– so what am I, really? Older? Not old enough?
    All that is to say, I’ve adopted some (theoretically) more mature lifestyle choices– the CSA and actually saving money, for one– and it’s been refreshing to find company among like-minded friends. Hope you had an amazing birthday, here’s to many more adventures to come!

    • jm

      Loved reading this Daisy, thank you so much for taking the time to put all these thoughts down here. One of the most exciting and interesting things is watching how our generation is redefining expectations in regards to work, lifestyle, careers, relationships, and aging. It’s just amazing that we’re able to connect with people who are the same ‘age’ emotionally as us around the world on a deep level — when I was growing up pre-internet (you know what I mean ;) I felt so trapped and contained by the lifestyle and expectations of the people immediately around me, and had no one else to look up to or compare myself to. The world was such a smaller place then.

      Happy May Day my friend! Can’t believe how quickly this year is going by :-)

  7. Happy (belated) Birthday Jessica! Those are some pretty important topics you mentioned and I just loved how honest this post was. Sometimes only positive things get posted in the blog world and I thought this was really important. Love the feel of the images as always! Your style is so unique and truly stands out. Hope to see you soon!

    • jm

      It’s been too long Tiffany! Let’s get together asap! Thanks so much for sharing these sweet thoughts ^_^

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