Sending Hundreds of Invites to Your 30th Birthday

There’s this NY Times article that both normalizes the 30th birthday and simultaneously makes it a lot more intimidating.

The writer starts by letting us know that the 30th birthday has now become an occasion to celebrate, complete with champagne and festivities. There’s no more need to be embarrassed or to hide from this landmark birthday. Great news! The 30th has become a cool rite of passage-  the contemporary sweet 16.

Then the article takes a strange turn and inflates the birthday party to epic proportions, with celebrations so huge that entire Facebook friend lists are invited from different stages of life (the piece is from 2003, so FB isn’t referenced…but 600+ people were invited to these birthday parties using some means of communication…and I’m impressed this was done without Facebook, actually). For some of the parties, there are invitees from the “life stage”s of age 0-6, 6-18, College, Post-College, and Work. These behemoth blowouts strike me as more overwhelming than the 30th birthday itself.

I mean, I’m glad that 30th birthdays are getting to be more cause for celebration than intimidation, but I don’t think that making my birthday party into a networking event would make it any more fun. In fact, that kind of party seems terribly uncomfortable. I don’t think I’d know what to say to the hundreds of people I hadn’t spoken to in years. That is, if they even showed up.

I’m happy to celebrate with the same close group of friends I always celebrate with. For me, having my favorite people still with me after all this time is good cause for a party.

Advice for Turning 30

So, as you may remember from an earlier post, Laura and I both love the Ask Polly advice column on Reading her posts is like talking to a deep, funny, older sister who’s an incredible listener and has soul-stirring, almost life-changing advice. Once you start reading her columns, you can see how easy it is to get obsessed.

The real “Polly” behind the awesome advice is the writer Heather Havrilesky. She’s also a columnist for Bookforum, writes for the New York Times Magazine, and was Salon’s TV critic for 7 years. In 2011, she wrote a memoir titled “Disaster Preparedness,” which I just ordered on Amazon.

She recently did an AMA on Reddit. For those of you that don’t know what that is, AMA stands for “Ask Me Anything,” and basically, Reddit invites well-known folks and experts on topics to have a dialogue with users on the site. Users can ask a question and the guest can choose which questions to answer. What I love about AMA’s on Reddit is that they tend to be more off-the-cuff, relaxed than interviews.

When I read through the AMA recently, I saw that she had some AMAZING advice for a woman turning thirty. The woman was basically saying she’s having an existential crisis about turning 30 and not being where she thought she’d be in her life. As usual, ‘Polly’ had some lovely words of wisdom to share.

Well, I’m definitely better at the long-winded response that I can think about for hours than I am at firing off quick advice. But I will say that turning 30 can be insanely tough, particularly for women. I think this is mostly true because when you’re young, you think “30” means “settled” or even “successful.” It’s pretty absurd to believe that, but many of us in our late 20s believe that if we’re still lost, that means we’re doomed to be huge losers for the rest of our lives.

But life doesn’t work that way. It’s not like musical chairs, where the music turns off and you’re screwed if you can’t find a chair. Paying too much attention to big turning points and numbers and landmarks is always a bad idea. All you can do is be very clear about what you want in your life, and take tiny steps every day to get there. Sometimes a tiny step is just reading a great book or vowing not to think negative thoughts first thing in the morning. I think I’ve taken a million different tiny steps along the way, and I’m still constantly readjusting my life so that I’m living in a way that’s true to what I believe and true to what I want for myself. It’s healthy to keep looking closely at what you want and to keep recalibrating, past 30 to 40 and 50 and 60 and beyond.

I love that she says life is not like musical chairs! Isn’t that a perfect way to describe what it feels like to be a little lost in your thirties? That somehow you haven’t found the answer when everyone else seemingly has.

I also love that she says paying too much attention to “big turning points and numbers and landmarks is always a bad idea.” So true. For me, I want my decisions to marry, have children, buy real estate, etc. to all feel organic.

Hope you enjoyed this food for the sometimes-angsty thirty-something mind.

Stay Thankful

Today is Black Friday- known as the busiest shopping day of the year in the US. On Thanksgiving day, as I was walking to my hotel from work, I noticed a major line of people camped outside Target. It was around 3PM. The Black Friday sales at Target wouldn’t begin until midnight.

Thanksgiving is supposed to be a holiday centered around giving thanks for what we have. The huge irony of Black Friday being the day after Thanksgiving isn’t lost on anyone.

Yet Black Friday mayhem happens anyway- a pushing, shoving, screaming frenzy of people trying to purchase as much new stuff as they can as early as they can. Black Friday is even its own official holiday in some states.

I understand that Black Friday helps a lot of businesses make money fast. One of the origins for the name ‘Black Friday’ comes from businesses beginning to be ‘in the black’ and doing well that day because so many people begin their holiday shopping right after Thanksgiving ends.

I also understand that Black Friday  helps consumers get deals and save money on holiday gifts for family and friends. It’s always good to save money on things you’re going to buy anyway.

However, I can’t help but feel slightly sickened by Black Friday. The day is completely contradictory to Thanksgiving and occurs only one day later. And it really brings home the feeling of thankfulness being over. There’s an ‘ok we were thankful yesterday, now we’re good’ feeling in the air.

It’s important to be thankful- not just on Thanksgiving, but every day of the year. I always like to compare thankfulness to brushing your teeth – you don’t just do it one day and then you’re done. Every day you start again.

When you aren’t clamoring for the best sale or shiny new toy, it’s easier to stop and appreciate what you already have. Even if you’re feeling down, or bored, or you have the post-Thanksgiving blues, you have so much to appreciate. I’m happy I can walk and can see and have strong lungs and a healthy heart.

Be thankful every day, not just on Thanksgiving. There’s a whole lot to be thankful for.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to all of our lovely readers! We are so grateful for you, our compatriots in this thirty-something journey. I know some of our readers are in Ireland, England and other countries all around the world – so you may not celebrate Thanksgiving.  But even if you don’t, there’s always a reason to be grateful, and a gratefulness practice has been proven to reduce depression, help you sleep better, and improve personal relationships.

For me, my “gratefulness” practice is to simply acknowledge moments when I’m happy and say a silent prayer for that moment. It’s guaranteed to happen at least once a day. For me, it’s sometimes after an amazing cup of coffee, a conversation with a friend, or a shared kvetching session with a fellow writer who just “gets” it after I’ve had a shitty day.

For instance, tonight. I spent the evening at my boyfriend’s dad house, in the company of my mom, his father and partner, and her son. It was a lovely evening of great company, delicious food, and relaxation. While it wasn’t a traditional family dinner, I’m grateful for this evening.

Here’s a beautiful quote by David Steindl-Rast, a Benedictine monk –

“The root of joy is gratefulness…. It is not joy that makes us grateful; it is gratitude that makes us joyful.”

Sending you all love and happiness, wherever you may be. We’ll thrilled you’re reading and wouldn’t be writing without you.

The Numerology of Thirty

What’s the significance of the number 30? In numerology, it seems like there are a lot of interpretations…some are very intense and some seem to contradict each other, but I’ve put together a list of the most interesting, and linked to a bunch of articles at the bottom where you can learn more.

  • 30 is the number of the circle- symbolizing infinity and absolute completion
  • 30 is the embodiment of the time cycle- and the clock (also in the shape of a circle).
  • Putting the last two facts together, a circle has 360 degrees, and a clock has 12 sections. 360 divided by 12 is 30. Oooh!
  • 30 represents the perfect balance in cosmic organization
  • 30 symbolizes dedication in a particular task or calling

In numerology:

  • The number 3 signifies communication, self-expression, expansion, and creativity.
  • The number 0 signifies eternity, infinity, oneness, and wholeness.
  • Together, 30 signifies creativity, communication, and spiritual awakening.

Speaking of spiritual awakening, there are a lot of spiritual references for the number 30:

  • The ancient Persia dedicated their month to 30 spirits
  • In biblical teachings, Jesus is 30  when he begins his ministry on earth.
  • Joseph was 30 when he stood before Pharaoh, King of Egypt
  • King David was 30 when he began to reign
  • Ezekiel begins his book of the same name “in the 30th year”
  • In the Torah, 30 is the age of ‘full strength’- the time we can begin transforming the world with all our strength as opposed to our training before 30.

There’s a lot more, but what I like to take from this is that 30 is a major BEGINNING. It’s not the end that I’ve always worried about.

Here are some articles that go deeper into the significance of 30:


Are you hosting or attending?

If you’re like me, you’re a thirty-something and you’re in a somewhat in-between position when it comes to Thanksgiving. Are you hosting your own festivities or attending someone else’s event? I don’t have your own family yet (by this I mean “family” defined by the very traditional idea of kids and a partner and stuff), so you’re joining with someone else’s or maybe you and your group of pals are hosting your own shin-dig.

Whatever your plan, and however low-key the festivities, the idea is the same – being thankful in the midst of transition. We’re always in transition anyway, so the goal is to accept what it is. On that note, happy pre-Thanksgiving! Wishing you safe travels!


Salary Calculator- Are You Getting Paid Your Worth? (And the Recent Tech Internship Salary Explosion)

Salary Calculator- Are You Getting Paid Your Worth? (And the Recent Tech Internship Salary Explosion)

Have you researched your salary compared with others in your industry?

If you haven’t, perhaps it’s time to make sure you’re getting paid what you deserve.

I’m self-employed, and I work in an industry (event and promotional marketing) where payment can fluctuate. I’ve been in this industry for a long time (more than 10 years) and I’m extremely experienced and good at what I do. I know the standard payment for events and the minimum payment that I will accept. However, everyone working in the industry has to demand to be paid what they’re worth, or the whole industry’s base payments can go down.

For example, let’s say that I usually work an event that pays $45 an hour. If next year that event suddenly starts paying $17 an dollar, I know my bottom line, and I will refuse to work it.

Now, since I refuse to work that event, a few scenarios can unfold:

1. The booking agency can call me and ask why I won’t work the event again this year, in which case I will explain why I’m not working, and we can potentially negotiate the pay close to or back to what it was.

2. The booking agency can hire someone else who will work for $17 an hour who is inexperienced and bad at the job.

3. The booking agency can hire someone else who will work for $17 an hour who is experienced and good at the job.

The first scenario is good- I have helped maintain what has been the industry standard (or even helped increase it!), and I have negotiated for what I’m worth instead of lowering my standards.

The second scenario is mediocre- if the booking agency hires someone who is bad at the job, the client will probably get upset. The agency will then potentially up the payment next time in order to hire the best workers in the industry. Sometimes the agency still won’t pay, and will just lower standards altogether, even if the client isn’t happy…this will eventually lead to the agency getting fired.

The third scenario is what causes problems- if someone experienced and good at their job accepts payment below industry standard, they will LOWER industry standard for the everyone involved! After all, if Amazon pays great computer programmers 250K a year, but start finding loads of just as great programmers who happily accept 30K a year, the salaries for all Amazon programmers will begin to decrease.

I have an accountant friend who recently figured out that the salary of her colleague DOING THE EXACT SAME JOB with WAY LESS EXPERIENCE was making 30K more than her a year! My friend only figured it out after accidentally seeing her colleague’s paystub. She didn’t realize how much money she could’ve been making, and therefore didn’t negotiate a pay raise.

I’ve known lots of interns who are working their butts off for various companies and making ZERO dollars. The other day, a woman named Jessica Shu posted a list of tech intern salaries in a group called Hackathon Hackers. The list promptly went viral. I’ve included it below:

intern salaries

Dear god!!! That’s some crazy money!

But- it’s great that interns are getting paid! They should be!!! I mean, this kind of internship money blows my mind- but it’s especially insane compared to those interns getting paid $0. ESPECIALLY if you’re an intern in the tech industry getting paid $0 – imagine seeing these numbers and realizing you’re likely getting screwed!

Know your worth…and don’t accept less! (And perhaps consider going into tech…) 😉

If you want to learn more about these numbers, lots of articles from major news sources have been written on the tech internship salaries in the last few days. See here and here and here. And don’t get down about it- just keep working to elevate yourself in your industry, know your industry salary standard, and demand the pay you deserve! You’re worth it!

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