Raluca, 36 / from the fabulous blog What Would Gwyneth Do
What would your 30 something self tell your 20 something self if you could?
Worry less. Have more fun. You have lots of time to worry, now is the time to live life a little more. Experiment and experience. You don’t HAVE to have your perfect career/perfect man/perfect home at 23. If you find it by then, great. If not, use this time to keep looking and trying new things.
What do you wish you took more seriously in your 20’s?
Saving for a rainy day. My husband and I look back at our 20s and how little we put away in savings – until late in the decade when we got pregnant with our first – and wish we had saved more and splurged (a little) less. You don’t need to put away ALL your money at that age (see my point above about having FUN!), but get a start on some savings so that your 30s – and all the expenses that can come with them – aren’t such a rude awakening.
What do you wish you took less seriously in your 20’s?
My physical appearance. I wish I could have embraced it with the confidence that comes in your 30s because it was definitely worth embracing! I was too busy picking myself apart to appreciate what I had. It’s harder work in your 30s with a slowing metabolism, post-baby body and early signs of aging, but oddly enough, I have the confidence now that I should have had then.
Favorite memory from your 20’s?
Too many to count. I moved to Los Angeles from Montreal and embarked on a whole new life, which was a brave move for me at that time. I got married and had my first baby in my 20s, so those were amazing milestones. And building my career in that decade was fun, too. I grew a lot, learned a lot and experienced a lot of amazing things.
In your early 20’s where did you think you would be (work, live etc) by 30?
Sort of right where I am. Married to my college sweetheart, with kids. We are in the suburbs which I have always been on the fence about (no pun intended, but it’s a white picket fence, if you’re wondering)…I thought I might end up back in a city. I also work for myself, which I didn’t necessarily picture in my 20s. I was moving up the corporate ladder at the time but taking a detour and starting my own business was definitely the right move for me in my 30s.
And where were you by 30? What did your life look like?
It was starting to fall into place nicely, though of course I didn’t recognize it at the time. I am 36 now so your perspective can change a lot – for the better – in six years. I was married at 26, I had my daughter when I was 29 and started my own consulting business when I was 30. I was working from home and trying to figure out the working mother juggle, which felt very stressful at the time. I definitely had more insecurities and fears than I do now. And it was all wasted energy…of course, now that I look back on it, that is.
Were you ever worried that it wouldn’t all fall into place?
Every day. Every single day. Oh, the things I worried about in my 20s. And the funny part is, you think it’s a decade of do or die. Find the perfect career. Marry the perfect man. Find the perfect apartment or home. And then your tastes and goals and priorities shift so much in your 30s that you end up wanting to start all over again anyways! Except the man part, in my case. I don’t even necessarily want the job or home or handbag that I worried about so much back then. I want something entirely different. So I should have stopped worrying so much and enjoyed what I had. My mom, in her 60s, tried to tell me that all the time but I wouldn’t listen. Don’t get me wrong, I had a lot of fun in my 20s, but I do wish I was a little more carefree during that chapter of my life. Responsible and smart, but not so serious. Plenty of time to be serious later in life.
What is the greatest gift about being a woman in your 30’s?
Confidence. Not just physically, but emotionally and mentally. You just come into your own a little more. You’re not driven by trends or expectations, your preferences and approach to life become more authentic and more real because you have more confidence in your choices and your voice and your aesthetic. My older sister always promised me my 30s would be better than my 20s and she was right.
When you look out onto the horizon. What do you hope your life looks like at 40?
The same in some ways, different in others. I think I will keep the husband and kids 😉 But I am still looking to evolve my career, my blog and my writing. There is still a lot to accomplish and look forward to on that front. I also hope to find a “forever home” by 40. We like where we are now but we feel like it’s still not “quite” the perfect space and place for us so we’re open to change. I’d like to feel more settled in that sense by the time I am 40. I have friends who are in that place now – completely 100% content with where they live, their home, their community – and I envy that. I also know that I am a creature of change and there’s a good chance that “100% settled” will just never be my approach to life. So I need to embrace that…and somehow convince my husband to do the same.
What’s a quote/ saying you try to live your life by?
Everything happens for a reason. It’s a cliché quote, but I find it to be invaluable in good times and in bad. It’s all happening for some reason. That reason may not be apparent now, but it will be some day, in some way. And I take great comfort in that.