Tax Mistakes You May Still Make in Your Thirties

Did you guys file your taxes already? If you haven’t yet, there’s still time to comb your return for some of the most common tax mistakes. Even though we’re in our thirties, taxes haven’t gotten any more fun. Life’s weird like that sometimes.

Well, I guess we could make our own fun – let’s catch some silly little tax errors on all our returns. Good times.

So in the name of fun and happy times, here are some of the top tax mistakes you won’t make because you read OMGImThirty:

1. All names and numbers (such as your Social Security number) need to be absolutely correct. Make sure your name matches what’s on your social security card. Otherwise your taxes may get rejected or you may not be able to efile. The tax man doesn’t care that your cute pet name is Lollykins- he won’t appreciate you using it on your taxes.

2. Don’t file using a paper tax form- it’s a lot harder to catch any mathematical errors. Actually, are you really still using a paper form? Stop. Just no.

3. Make sure your filing status is correct. If you’re single you may qualify as Head of Household. Fancy stuff.

4. Make sure your bank account info is correct, especially if you changed banks recently. You want that tax refund to get safely into your hands, right? Yay, safe and sound tax refund- come home to me!

5. When  you efile, you need to sign your tax return with a Pin number. You can easily use the one from last year…unless you forgot what it was…like I did. If that happens, you can simply enter your AGI from last year. Unless you have no idea what that was…like I did. Just don’t lose your pin, ok? You’ll just keep needing it year after year. Just put it in a safe place already, ok? Ok??

6. If you file for an extension, remember that you still have to PAY. You didn’t think you’d get to collect interest on that tax money for months on end, did you? You know there’s no way Uncle Sam would let you do that without penalty, right?

7. Don’t lose your paperwork…receipts can be requested by the IRS for up to 7 years after you’ve filed! If you’re a hoarder anyway, indulge your habit and add all receipts to that random paperwork collection under your bed.

8. Don’t file late unless you get an extension! And make sure to actually file! Did you conveniently forget to file already? You may think you’re soaring under the radar, but the IRS will find you. Yup yup, they will.

9. Account for all income sources. Even if you don’t tell Uncle Sam that you worked part time at the circus, you can safely wager that the circus reported every fire-eating penny you collected.

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Happy filing! And let us know if you think of other common errors you’d like to share with others. Thanks for reading!

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How Would Your 40th Birthday Celebration Compare to Your 30th?

Since I’m getting my MFA in screenwriting and TV writing, I keep an eye on TV shows and films that are being green lit by studios and networks (meaning they are going into production). Today in the industry publication Variety, I saw that a reality show about 40th birthday parties is heading to series:

“My Fab 40th”
 Produced by Fremantle North America, and developed by Purveyors of Pop, with Thom Beers, Matt Anderson, Nate Green, and Maty Buss serving as executive producers.

Delve into the world of extravagant 40th birthday parties where people put some serious “happy” into a righteous rite of passage. From unlimited budgets to lavish delicacies and over-the-top entertainment, fans will see why turning 40 is such a gift.

I didn’t realize that was even a thing – “the world of extravagant 40th birthday parties.” Maybe I just haven’t been invited to any yet? But I can’t imagine that in seven years I’m going to want to spend a lot of money on a big party. Instead, I can see myself spending money on my kid’s birthday party.

It got me thinking about how my birthday celebrations have changed over the years. In my 20s, I used to have big birthday gatherings at bars. But I always got social anxiety having to entertain all those people and ended up drinking too much to numb the anxiety. I’ve discovered and accepted that I love focusing intently on one person at a time, and so large parties where I play host are mentally exhausting. Naturally, the older I’ve gotten, I like my birthday celebrations small – with family and friends who feel like family. I imagine that my 40th birthday party will be small and celebrated with champagne and cupcakes, and hopefully on the east coast. So while I don’t think I’ll be hosting my own extravagant 40th celebration, I hope I’m invited to one or a few!

Be a Part of Portrait of a Thirtysomething!

We just published our first interview series with the wonderful and talented Eljon Wardally yesterday. We learned a lot about her experiences as a thirtysomething, including that it never helped to be stressed in her 20s about where she was going to end up in her 30s, and that it’s challenging to be expected to be married with kids by 34 (agh, this is always a major issue for thirtysomethings, isn’t it? Sigh.)

We’d love for as many of our wonderful readers to be a part of this series as possible! We’re trying to shed as much light as possible on the thirties decade, and of course everyone will have different experiences. But we’ll be looking for some patterns. If you’re reading this blog, and wouldn’t mind answering a few questions about the thirties, we’d be extremely interested in featuring you! Write to us at omgimthirty@gmail.com, and we’ll talk about details 🙂

Questions we’ll ask will include the challenges you didn’t expect to face in your thirties, facets about aging you were most scared of in your twenties (and/or are still scared of), the biggest surprises about the 30’s, and more. Also, we’ll be sure to link to your blog or website if you have one.

Thanks so much for reading! Here’s to shedding lots of beautiful light on the mysterious do-or-die decade! 

Eljon Wardally

The wonderful and fantastic 34 year old playwright, Eljon Wardally- our first Portrait of a Thirtysomething interviewee! 🙂

 

 

New Feature: Portrait of a Thirtysomething

We’re thrilled to announce that today we’re launching a new weekly interview series: Portrait of a Thirtysomething. We will ask our invited guest (who will be in her/his 30s, obviously!) questions about their life and what the decade means to them.

Our first interview is Eljon Wardally, an incredible playwright/screenwriter, who is good friends with both Laura and I. We all met at youth theater company, Downtown Art, while we were in high school. Over the years, we’ve all collaborated on projects together. Eljon’s got one of the sunniest and brightest outlooks of life of anyone I know, is an incredible artistic talent and an amazing friend to boot.

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Photo courtesy of Champion Eye Media

 

Name/Age/Location:
Eljon Wardally/on the cusp of 34/New York

Occupation:
Playwright/Screenwriter

What’s the accomplishment you’re most proud of in your 30s so far?
I’m most proud of my MFA in Playwriting from Fordham University/Primary Stages! Not only did I go back to school after being out for 10 years, I am part of the Inaugural Playwriting class for this type of MFA. You only get to make that kind of history once!

What do you NOT miss about your 20s?
I don’t miss the people I left behind in that decade.

Looking back, what shouldn’t you haven’t been afraid of in your 20s?
I shouldn’t have been so concerned about where I was going to end up. I think that being in my 30s has grounded me in a big way. I’ve learned to just be kinder to myself. I’m a big believer in everything happens for a reason. Stress only gives us wrinkles. Don’t be afraid, be still and listen. I promise, it will work out.

Any surprises about what your 30s are like?
I have to say that there are no surprises. Is that bad? Everything just feels more comfortable. My skin feels more lived in and I feel like I know myself better.

What do you find most challenging about this decade?
When you’re in your 30s, people expect you to be married with kids or with one on the way. It’s challenging to feel like you have to justify why you may not be at this stage of your life in your 30s. In a way, this generation is at a crossroads. Things are changing and what was conventional isn’t anymore. More people are focused on their careers and other aspects of their lives and getting married later and having children later. There’s nothing wrong with this but it’s hard to constantly hear about grandkids from the elders!

What are you most looking forward to? Be it tonight, next month or ten years from now!
Tonight I’m looking forward to curling up with my dog and a cup of tea.
Next month I’m looking forward to having a new draft of a play I’m working on.
Ten years from now I’m looking forward to being happy and healthy.

Thanks so much, Eljon! Here’s a link to Eljon’s award-winning web series Docket.  And here’s her personal website, say hi!

Getting the Measles at 30- or Vaccinate Your Children Please!!

My coworker just got a notification from a tradeshow she recently worked. It said:

“We received official notice by the Florida Department of Health that an individual who attended Enterprise Connect Orlando 2015…was hospitalized with a laboratory-confirmed case of the measles. We immediately began working with the Florida Department of Health and the Florida Department of Health in Osceola County to assist them with their thorough investigations and notification process.

The safety and security of our staff, attendees, exhibitors and partners is our top priority. We are working closely with Florida health officials, and are following their recommendations and guidance on the immediate actions we take.”

This is a pretty messed up letter to get after working hard at an otherwise pretty typical tradeshow.

Even 5 years ago, if I saw something like this, I would have been shocked. But now I’m just angry and confused.

When I was a kid, I remember crying about getting vaccines such as the ‘measles, mumps, rubella’ vaccine, but I was dragged to the doctors office, like every other kid I knew. I’d never heard of anyone’s parents opting them out of these vaccines. It just wasn’t a thing. And I also never heard of anyone I knew getting the measles. All my friends in their 30s have never had the measles.

But now measles outbreaks seem to be happening again, and it’s not okay at all. Are future children going to be exposed to diseases that we once thought were eradicated… just because they don’t get the cure that we have in our hands?? We. Have. The. Cure. Now.

I’m a very holistic person, and I believe in alternative medicine. I use ginger tea and apple cider vinegar and garlic and lemon water to cure colds. But sometimes enough is enough…sometimes you simply need to get antibiotics or your infection won’t go away..it will get worse. In the past, before our time, you could have strep throat and then have it develop into scarlet fever without antibiotics. You need antibiotics for strep throat. Holistic medicine won’t cure it.

I get that some people are worried that vaccinations can possibly cause autism and other complications- but there’s no real proof of that. However, there IS definite proof that unvaccinated people- especially babies and children- exposed to measles WILL GET MEASLES.

So please, parents in your 30s, vaccinate your children!

Below is an amazing and hilarious Jimmy Fallon video about vaccinating your kids. Share with others.

Online Dating and the New App, Bumble

Do you online date? I’m in a long-term relationship, so it’s been nearly 6 years since I was actively dating. But at that time, I remember using OkCupid, Nerve, and eHarmony when I was online dating. I would be psyched to email with someone cool, but  sometimes they would say something that would throw me off (“Just so you know, I’m into cosplay. Cool?” or “I don’t believe in bathing more than once a month”) or they would simply ghost on me and disappear into the ether. I had the best luck with OkCupid, but even then, I’d email for awhile with a guy, and then I would get too scared to meet them in person. So I’d often just keep delaying actually meeting up. Once, I even cancelled a date day-of. I was the worst, flakiest version of myself. I did meet a few guys in person but it was always hours of anxiety beforehand that was only bearable in the right circumstances.

In an earlier post, Laura talked about the dating site Tinder and how there was backlash to their new pricing system. (They’re basically charging people over 30 a higher rate. Boo!) Anyway, there was some controversy with one of Tinder’s co-founders, Whitney Wolfe,  below, who left the company after she initiated a sexual harassment and workplace discrimination lawsuit. (All fair, in my opinion.)

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Whitney Wolfe has recently gone ahead and co-founded an app called Bumble. It’s a new dating app that hopes to empower women in dating. Whitney herself said, “Bumble is something that can give women power and also take the pressure off men. We wanted to even the playing field a little bit.” So how exactly does Bumble do that?

  • Only WOMEN can initiate contact.
  • Women must reply to their matches within 24 hours or the matches disappear.
  • The target demographic is women from the ages of 18-35.

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I’ll be honest – I’m intrigued. So often we’re taught that the men should initiate contact when it comes to dating. Even I still assume a man should initiate contact with a woman. I don’t know why, but I always just feel as though “If he likes me enough, he’ll reach out and find me.” What, am I encouraging stalking or something? Jeez. But I’m starting to challenge my own beliefs, because what is all that mumbo jumbo “The Rules” type-stuff even based on?

What do you think? Is Bumble something you’d try?

Facebook Nostalgia in Your Thirties

I was on Facebook tonight saying happy birthday to a friend when I accidentally clicked the wrong button and was suddenly transported back to 2011.

Time traveling back a few years in Facebook time brought me to London. I was visiting my then-boyfriend and was very excited to see him. I scrolled down and watched myself quote Pablo Neruda a half dozen times, recommend 3 “brilliant” plays I don’t remember seeing, sit backstage jittering before going onstage and performing, invite people to donate to numerous kickstarter campaigns, and link to The Onion as much as I could humanly link. I also posted a few things that I would laugh scoffingly at now such as “Happy. Peaceful. Joyous.” Gag.

And then there were a few things that I would absolutely still post now, including all my travel/work updates/stories such as “In Mexico City trying to work but failing at Spanish language. Thought people here spoke English but was sadly misinformed. Now being laughed at by customers as I read Espanol verbatum from product brochure.”

I was actually about to write a post for this blog when Facebook dredged up these strange throwbacks. The darn site ended up keeping me on guiltily for an extra 30 minutes, as I nostalgically read over post after post dated all the way back to 2010. I hadn’t seen any of them in years, yet, for most, I remembered exactly how I felt when I wrote them.

Though I’m prone to nostalgia anyway, Facebook has a special way of pulling up sentimentality in me, I’ve been on the site since college, and now that I’m thirty, it’s become this time capsule of so much of my young adult life…but in these strange little quippy bows that aren’t exactly how things were at all.

It’s funny to think that a lot of the younger generation isn’t really using Facebook anymore but has switched platforms to other social media… such as Instagram and …god knows what else. Haha, I can’t think of the new forms of social media. Am I really getting old? WhatsApp and Snapchat come to mind, but they’re not really social media… It’s kinda sad/kinda funny how unaware I am of the new wave of Social Media apps. And I’m usually a pretty techie person…

I actually went and looked up “Facebook in your thirties.” I wanted to see if there were articles about Facebook dying off in the younger generation while still being a mainstay of this one. Instead I ended up coming across article after article about how Facebook just introduced a new nostalgia-inducing feature called “On This Day.”  Apparently there will be a new button on Facebook, similar to Timehop, that’ll take you back to what you did on this day last year…and up to 4 years ago. This new feature was introduced March 24, otherwise known as ‘today.’ Pretty ironic, huh?

When I Facebook time traveled back to 2011, I didn’t push the “On This Day” button. I don’t even have the button- it’s apparently rolling out to users in waves and it’s not on my computer yet. I just happened to accidentally click into the past on the exact same day that Facebook rolls out a new nostalgia feature. Sometimes life can be funny like that.

But then again, life always has been sort of funny, hasn’t it?

 

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Hindsight on VH1

Have you heard of the TV show Hindsight on VH1? It’s a show about a woman in her late 30’s who, on the eve of her second marriage, is magically transported back to the eve of her first marriage in the 1990’s. She basically has to decide what decisions she would make again, all with the help of her childhood best friend, with whom she reconnects after being estranged  for ten years. The show asks, if you knew how your life would turn out, what would you change? In our thirties, it definitely seems like our decisions have a lot of weight somehow – as if each choice will somehow define the rest of our decades. In truth, many of them probably will (if and who you marry, having kids, etc.), but we’re still allowed to make mistakes.

I watched the pilot today and I was impressed. Not only did the 90’s references boost my spirits, but I love TV shows and movies about 30-something women. Too often when 30-something women are portrayed in the media, we see the same hackneyed characters – the stressed workaholic corporate woman who has no time for a relationship but desperately wants one, the frazzled stay-at-home mom, or the single and unemployed artsy character – just to name a few. I’m happy to see a different type of heroine on this show, and especially thrilled that there’s a show on the air like this – a show that deals with the intricacies of female friendship and how somehow you can regret how those relationships ended even more than romantic relationships.

A few episodes are streaming for free VH1’s website for the show, so I highly recommend checking them out.

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Those Brief Moments of Brevity In Your Thirties

Today my uncle and little cousin came to visit me at work. I’m working an auto show in Fort Lauderdale for a few days, and they live nearby.

My cousin is 16 and thinking about the colleges he’s going to apply to next year. I know that his parents are kind of freaking out about it. The college application process is a scary thing. My uncle and aunt asked me about my memories of applying to college- specifically about writing the dreaded college essay.

Even though I’m now 30 and the college application process was more than 13 years ago, it all came back to me like a dream…sort of screwy and very vivid. My college applications were nuts- I applied to 12 different colleges and visited all of the campuses. I also wrote over 7 different essays, and took dozens of hours to complete them.

But the hardest part for me was always the editing. The essays were so hard for me to shorten- 650 words tops, and I went over every time. Once I had my essays edited down to total brevity, they were almost unrecognizable- little moments in time that never captured everything I wanted to say.

Thank god I got into NYU and the application torture ended.

But as I was walking over a drawbridge in Florida tonight, I thought about how life is like the editing process. You feel like the years go on and on, but really, in the end, you get to keep only a small collection of memories capturing the briefest essence of what came before. And then your small fragments of memory meander and cut off, vivid and dreamlike, and not exactly what you wanted to say at all.

Every moment is special. Every feeling matters. Live in the now and hold it close before it’s edited down to nothing. Because one day what feels like forever will actually fade and cut off. And our beautiful path will come to an end.

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Expert Travel Lessons Learned The Hard Way

In a recent post I wrote, Are You More Confident Now That You’re Older?, I touched on how a lot of times confidence comes from being okay with failing and getting rejected again and again.
Now that I’m 30, I’ve already accumulated piles and piles of messy, crazy mistakes I’ve made and lessons learned the hard way.

Before this blog, I used to have a travel blog called YouSomewhereElse (hence my wordpress handle LauraSomewhereElse). I don’t consider myself the absolute best expert on travel, per se, but I do travel more than 2/3 of the year for work, so I consider myself at least somewhat of an expert. And when you travel as much as I do, you rack up a whole lot of experience under your belt. Some of it is good, and some of it…not so much.

Right now I’m in the middle of a 5 city trip without hitting home between cities. I’m in city 4 out of 5. I’ve probably only spent about 10 days total at home in New York since the beginning of January. I’ve been traveling like this- at an ever increasing rate- for over 8 years, and have been on the road so much that I should be great at it, right? Well, sometimes even if you’re “great” at something, it just means that you do it so much that you’re bound to do a bunch of things wrong at least some of the time.

Just to prove that being a confident expert takes lots of failure, and to encourage you to not be afraid of the really bad experiences, here are just a few of the many mistakes I’ve made on the path to becoming a travel expert..

  1. I’ve gone to the wrong airport..twice. One time I completely missed the flight and they wouldn’t rebook it. I lost $550 buying a new last minute flight, and another $100 taking a cab from one airport to the other..only to miss that flight anyway.
  2. I’ve booked a flight on the right day,..but in the wrong month..and the $400 flight cost was non-refundable.
    3. I bought a cheap suitcase and had the entire handle come off on a hill in the middle of England.
    4. I bought a different cheap suitcase and had the handle come off in the middle of a staircase in Washington DC.
    5. I’ve exploded a bottle a seltzer all over my laptop and BROKE THE KEYS FOREVER in the middle of Philadelphia a month ago.
    6. I’ve been stuck in Charlotte airport for 3 days when the airport closed because of bad weather…and I had to sleep on a cardboard box because I was on the phone when they gave out cots.
    7. I’ve booked numerous bus tickets that ended up being at the wrong time..and they were nonrefundable.
    8. I let my phone fall off my lap while sleeping on a plane and it was stolen while I slept.
    9. I opened the back of a car where my suitcase was stored, only to find my suitcase gone! I thought it had been stolen and completely panicked, only to later realize that I was in the wrong car.
    10. I’ve accidentally tried to bring my permanent plastic Contigo water bottles filled with water through security…and have had them confiscated at least half a dozen times because I was in too much of a hurry to go back and dump them.

11. I recently dropped all my suitcases off at the wrong hotel. This was two days ago.

12. Today I went running in Fort Lauderdale, got completely lost, and had my phone’s GPS stop working on me. I had to continuously ask construction workers and random passerby directions for an extra half hour until my phone suddenly started working again. If it hadn’t finally worked, who knows when I would’ve made it back home.

So don’t worry about going out and failing. Failure probably means that you’re just putting yourself out there more…or at least I’d like to think so. Go ahead and make tons of crazy mistakes..and you’ll perhaps become a confident expert along the way 🙂

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It’s Never Too Late to Be A Success

I’ve talked about this before, but being in graduate school and being constantly surrounded by hungry, eager 18-21 year olds has a funny way of making you feel inadequate if you’re a 30-something. Sometimes I’ll be sitting having lunch, surrounded by undergraduates, and I’ll feel so far from anything like success. This kind of thinking leads me into a tailspin where I start doubting my career choice, and wondering if it’s time to pursue something else. However, I recently realized that I spend a whole lot of time thinking about a dilemma” and not actually doing anything about it. Being a cerebral person, I often assume I can think my way to an answer. But as we learn in screenwriting 101, thinking is not an action. We would never pay money to watch a person ‘thinking’ on screen.

So I’ve been trying to implement not thinking so much about my career, and just trying to get moving. Have you heard the expression, “You can’t steer a parked car”? Well, there’s a lot of truth to that. If you feel lost, discouraged, or behind in your life or career, just take one single action in the direction you may want to go. And you’re bound to make some mistakes, but that’s part of the process.

And, never, ever believe it’s too late…There are so many people who achieved great success later in life. Here are some famous examples.

  • Rodney Dangerfield didn’t succeed in comedy until his 40s. Before that, he sold aluminum siding!
  • Ray Kroc was a milkshake salesman into his 50s until he founded McDonald’s at 52.
  • Raymond Chandler, wrote his first novel at 52!
  • Tim Zagat quit his job as a lawyer in order to create his namesake book of restaurant reviews when he was 51.
  • Toni Morrison didn’t start writing until her mid-30s and her first novel was published when she was 39.

So, don’t ever let the notion of time get you down. Just shift your car out of parked and start driving.

How You Could be a Millionaire By The Time You’re in Your 60s

What does money mean to you? To me, it means freedom (to do meaningful work of my choosing and not stress about money) AND a having a great living space (with a requisite jacuzzi bath). It’s never meant designer clothing, cars, fancy dinner outs or exotic trips for me. Money is important to me, specifically the making of it.

I was wondering today if I would ever be a millionaire and what it would take for me to get there. When I hear the word millionaire, it sounds so out of reach and impossible, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s probably not. And quite frankly, most of us will HAVE to be millionaires when we retire, because it’s going to cost us at least 1.5 million to life comfortably in retirement.

I like breaking down goals into their component parts and seeing what it would take to accomplish a goal, especially financial ones. So, here’s a scenario.

Let’s say you never saved in your 20s. Now you found yourself at 30 with a desire to be a millionaire by the time you retire. How could you do it? Well, you could do it and it actually doesn’t seem so daunting.

If you begin investing at age 30 and make a….

Yearly Contribution of $4,924 (Or, $368 a month)…

At Age 67, you would have $1,000,000 if your investments had an annual return rate of at least 8%. 

But the KEY thing to remember is that you can’t just keep your money in some dinky savings/checking account making you 1% interest. You need to invest in something where you’re pretty likely to make at least an 8% return rate. This could mean mutual funds, stocks, or an EFT.

Now my boyfriend is telling me that to expect an 8% return is crazy – but with picking the right mutual funds and EFTs, I’m hopeful it’s possible.

When you do the math, becoming a millionaire doesn’t seem too daunting.

Are You Still Superstitious in Your Thirties?

In honor of St Patricks day, I’m going to quickly touch on the four leaf clover.

I remember when I was a kid in Central Park one day, I was in some field and I kept finding all these four leaf clovers, one ofter another. I felt like the luckiest kid in the world. And maybe I was. Or maybe I was just in some kind of genetically modified, messed up patch of New York land. Who knows? But at that moment, I knew I was very, very lucky.

Since then, I’ve gone through phases where I’ve been mildly superstitious. I needed to keep my good luck at maximum and my bad luck at bay, so I followed certain patterns and procedures. I knocked on wood- or lacking sufficient wood, I’d knock on my head (which was of course a fine substitute). And I went around ladders instead of under them. Also, when salt spilled on a table, I threw it over my left shoulder… although this was partially because I thought it was fun to throw salt around.

Then a friend of mine said to me one day, while opening up her umbrella indoors, “I don’t believe in superstitions. I think they’re a way to control people.”

That statement changed my life. I suddenly saw her point. At once superstitions felt extremely controlling and fear-inducing. They seemed to fall in the same vein as the depressing nightly news. Superstitions said to me, “lots of bad things are going on in the world that are beyond your control and you should fear them.” These kinds of superstitions make people feel weak.

Dear god, a black cat just  crossed my path- this day’s gonna suck! Oh no, someone said “Macbeth” in my theater- they’ve just ruined my show!

Neither of those thoughts are very useful.

On the other hand, some superstitions actually seem to have started out as a way to be useful: the ladder superstition possibly began as a way to keep people out of potentially dangerous situations- perhaps a paint bucket on top of a ladder could fall onto your head below. Breaking a mirror will leave lots of sharp glass everywhere, so lets scare people into being very careful around mirrors… Umbrellas opened indoors will knock things down, so we’ll say it’s unlucky to open one. Salt spilled on the table needs to be thrown onto the floor and then the table will be nice and clean again…or something like that.

Now that I’m thirty, I’m way less superstitious. I’m actually anti-superstitious to the point of occasionally aggravating people. I won’t use the “scottish play’ pseudonym in theaters. I sometimes open my umbrellas before I leave restaurants. I get excited on Friday the 13th- it’s typically a great day for me (although maybe that’s a superstition too- albeit a reverse one).

Are you superstitious now that you’re in your thirties? Maybe more than you used to be? Or perhaps less so? And most importantly- have you found your pot of gold at the end of the rainbow yet? You know it’s waiting for you.

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“Things Women Should Stop Wearing After Age 30” (Or, Gag Me)

This ridiculous click-bait listicle showed up in my Facebook feed last week: 24 Things Women Should Stop Wearing After Age 30, and all I can say is: YUCK.  Included among these 24 items of clothing are: short dresses, crop tops, graphic tees and old sneakers. Oy. It’s so dumb that I feel silly even writing about it, but any articles about what women over 30 should or should not do is ripe for commentary on this blog.

The items of clothing included on the list that bother me the most are short dresses and crop tops. That’s because there’s this nasty underlying implication that women over a certain age shouldn’t show off their bodies, that we’re no longer as attractive. Well, screw that. Personally, I think I look better now than I did my 20’s. I don’t have all that beer/weekend heavy drinking weight, I know what clothing works better for me, and of course, I’ve got that thirty-something confidence going on.

One item touched me personally: old sneakers. I adore my old, ratty Converse. I’ve always had a sneaker of choice. My life post-college can be easily traced through my shoe choices: Puma Californias, Saucony, Adidas, Keds, a brief foray with Simple sneakers (loved these), and now my beloved and dirt caked Converse.

So whip out your crop tops, leopard print shirts, and graphic tees, because when it comes to clothing, age ain’t nothing but a number.

Are You More Confident Now That You’re Older?

There was one time I was acting in a play and said to the director, “my character is so confident. How can I play a character who’s more confident than I’ve ever been?”

I can’t remember the director’s response, but it was something like “you’re confident. It’ll be fine.” I remember wondering whether I was fooling people into thinking I was more confident than I felt. I think I ended up repeating affirmations over and over to myself in order to get the character feeling right: “I’m confident. I’m beautiful. I’m frigging great.” Stuff like that. And I tried to imitate confident people I knew. It worked well enough at the time, I guess.

Is confidence a fake it till you make it thing? Does it help to take on a projected mindset of confidence?

I sort of hate the idea of ‘fake it till you make it.’ I like to think of myself as a pretty down to earth person, so I find it hard to attempt faking a version of myself. Whenever I try, it works for awhile, but sometimes I end up back where I started. Of course, now that I’m 30, I don’t always have to try and fake confidence. There are definite areas where I’m naturally confident from experience alone- usually in my job and friendships and certain subjects such as travel….areas where I’ve tried different things and failed and succeeded and failed again.

I recently read a brilliant article by one of my favorite writers, Mark Manson, called The Confidence Conundrum. In it, Mark says something I’ve always wondered about confidence- that the lack of it seems to just lead to a downward spiral of less confidence.

“On the surface, confidence appears to be an area where the rich get richer and the poor stay the fucking losers they are. After all, if you’ve never experienced much social acceptance, and you lack confidence around new people, then that lack of confidence will make people think you’re clingy and weird and not accept you. Same deal goes for relationships. No confidence in intimacy will lead to bad break ups and awkward phone calls … This is the confidence conundrum, where in order to be happy or loved or successful, first you need to be confident; but then to be confident, first you need to be happy or loved or successful.”

He comes to the conclusion that the answer doesn’t actually lie in faking it and saying “i’m fucking great. I’m fucking amazing at this,” but in “becoming comfortable with what you potentially lack.” In other words, confidence is about failing and failing again…and becoming comfortable with not achieving. In other words, confidence isn’t about what we achieve (which seems to bring about more of a temporary external confidence anyway), but about becoming comfortable with dreaded things like failure, rejection, and getting hurt.

Scary stuff! But imagine if instead of worrying about achieving all the time, and wanting to have a constant peaceful mindset, we instead became comfortable with discomfort. If we could get comfortable putting ourselves out there and failing, then we could become confident no matter what. We’d have nothing to prove to ourselves or others.

Perhaps it’s a numbers game. When you put yourself out there again and again and get rejected or fail and get hurt over and over, think ‘this is normal. And it’s fine. It’s actually great. Because this is part of life and it means that I’m truly putting myself out there and living.”

It’s scary, but if it’s actually the true key to building confidence, would you do it more?

Protecting Your Mental Garden

I was talking to a friend yesterday, and she relayed a beautiful analogy that our mutual friend had shared with her. Basically, the idea is that you should think of your mental life – your ambitions, hopes and dreams – as a garden. So, in the process of life, you’re creating a garden for yourself. It’s a place where you feel happy, secure and confident that your deepest hopes will be realized. It’s a place you can retreat to for safety and love.

wonderwordz_gardens_2

As the gardener of your garden, you have to make sure you don’t let anyone inside who won’t care for the garden and appreciate it as much as you. You need people in the garden who will urge it to grow and blossom. We all know that some people can have toxic energy, or can simply suck your energy source dry – those people are your weeds. And weeds must clearly stay out of a garden.

To build your garden, you need nurturing, positive thoughts that uplift you. You need friends who support you unconditionally and hold you up when times are hard.

As we get older, into our thirties and beyond, we will inevitably have more life challenges to deal with. And I think it’s important we learn how to create a safe, loving space for ourselves so we can face those challenges with more grace. I love the idea of a mental garden to be that place.

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