why i'm excited about turning 34 / the brave ones with megan silianoff

Something that gets me really inspired is hearing the real life stories of other women.  The real stuff.  Life, love, failure, dreams, disappointment, fear.  I want to hear stories, tell stories, celebrate stories.  Every one of us has so many unique stories, and yet, in every story there is something that each of us can nod our heads to and whisper, "me too, man, me too."  I'm all about that.  Listening to real people's stories makes me feel less alone, it makes me feel like we're all in this together, even if I forget from time to time.  I think that story tellers, especially those who tell very personal and vulnerable stories, are seriously brave humans.  It can be pretty scary to share your truth, and I believe it takes bravery to share your story.  So here's the beginning of a new series on the blog, featuring open and honest guest posts by rad ladies I like to call "The Brave Ones."  First up, an amazing women I had the pleasure of befriending at TxSC CAMP, Megan Silianoff.  Megan is amazing for a myriad of reasons, and if you want to read her story, you should grab a copy of her book, 99 Problems but a Baby Ain't One (Which I devoured in little over one plane flight), and I'll be giving away a signed copy later today! Take it away, Megan!

or a few years now my cousin and I (both 33) have been co-writing a screenplay in our heads titled This is 30. It’s the prologue to Judd Apatow’s This is 40 - a comedy about the various challenges 40 somethings typically face in that specific decade of life.

This is 30 (same concept, different decade) commences with a 33 year old writer-type (me essentially) dry heaving in the sand of Chicago’s Oak Street Beach. I hold a plastic bag in one hand and hide my face with the other as hundreds of beach-goers stare, point, and throw a lot of “hey are you okay?” my way. The camera pans down the beach where we my cousin (a successful career type) watches me, laughs, and attempts to get a pic of this newest phase of my hangover. She can’t get off a decent shot though with the distance between us and the babysitting job I gave her when I ran off and said, “WATCH MY KID. I’M GONNA PUKE!” The point we’re trying to make in this film, and opening scene, is that your 30’s are a very peculiar decade. We’re young enough that weekday hangovers are still on the table but old enough that we can’t stay in bed to ride them out.

The 30’s decade is grueling for a myriad of reasons. It’s a time when there’s no light at the end of the tunnel regarding “the big stuff” in life. Kids for example. Based on the average age of pregnancy, a lot of our offspring are babies or toddlers. Parenting at any age is hard, but parenting tots is PHYSICALLY exhausting in a way that parenting teens is not. (Teens generally aren’t fans of being carried, for example.)

Our 30’s are generally a “make it or break it” time in our careers. Lots of heads-down, putting the time in, setting the foundation, type stuff that’s paving the way for the rest of our professional lives. Job hopping and “gigging” is generally less cute, encouraged, and applauded at this stage in the game. There’s pressure to have figured out what you want to be when you grow up, even though most people, at any age, can’t answer that question.

We have to mention the single ladies scenario as well. If you’re single and ready to mingle in your thirties – panic starts to set in, which is validated by your friends, family, and society in general. No more, “you’re young – have fun” pep talks. Instead, we’re encouraged when we sarcastically joke about freezing our eggs or looking into adoption. “Do it!” they say, “Good for you girl!”

But 30 isn’t all bad. If you’re a glass half-full type of person, you absolutely can make a toast! The exciting news is that we’re generally “on fleek” in terms of our looks ladies! As much as we’re worried about sun damage, gray hair, and post-baby bods, we’re actually in our prime! Take Kourtney Kardashian (and Kim for that matter) as examples. Kourt was “basic” in her 20s but these days she’s often argued to be the best-looking Kardashian! J.Lo and Kelly Ripa are strangely looking better as they age. And sit down for this one. Studies show women are at their sexual prime at thirty-four. Are you writing this down? Thirty-four. You remember how I old I said I was, right?!

Wisdom is said to be the sum of your mistakes or bad experiences in life. We 30 somethings have accumulated infinite wisdom by now. For me personally, that came in the form of ovarian cancer, navigating the domestic adoption process, called off engagements, Homeland killing off Brody, and a bunch of other drama. Like my fellow 30 somethings, I’ve traded some bright-eyed naivety for experience and it feels good. Empowering even.

This is why it’s almost cliché at this point to hear women say 30 was when they finally felt comfortable in their own skin. Take my cousin for example. She didn’t pass the bar exam recently. Despite the obvious disappointment she didn’t have a melt down, plan a suicide, or post cryptic emoticons on Facebook. She knew it wasn’t a reflection of her intelligence (she already has a master degree btw) but simply a result of timing. Two months before the test she met and fell in love with her probably husband and therefore didn’t study as much as she should have. It was a mature and healthy response that she’d NEVER have had in her 20’s. She felt bad about failing the bar but good about her response to it. This is 30.

We don’t know how our screenplay ends yet but we’re brainstorming possibilities for our characters aka ourselves. To me – that’s the very best thing about being a thirty something. The fact that we’re old enough to know better but young enough to still dream a little. We’re not going to be the next American Idol (there’s an age limit) but there’s still a possibility we could “make it” in whatever it is that we do. Kristin Wigg, Bradley Cooper, JK Rowling, Julia Child, and Vera Wang all are encouraging examples of this. At 30 something, we know what’s in the realm of possibility and what’s not. But that gray area in-between? It’s still in play as far as I’m concerned. You may already own a strand of pearls, but the world is still your oyster. This is 30.

Thanks Megan!  Stay tuned because I've got a giveaway coming up later today for a signed copy of Megan's book!

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