Women In Their 30s Now Having More Babies Than Women in Their 20s

For the first time in over three decades in the US, women in their 30s are having more babies than women in their 20s.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention released data last Wednesday that the birth rate among women aged 30 to 34 last year was slightly higher than that of women aged 25 to 29. Also according to the data, women are having their first child at age 28 on average. Consider that in 2014, the average age for women having their first child was 26.3 according to the CDC. That seems like a pretty high jump in age to me, considering it’s been only 3 years since 2014!

Experts say that the change is partially due to a reduction in teen pregnancy rates. But that’s only part of the story. A lot of women, including myself, feel it’s okay to have children later. I’m 35, and I want children and haven’t had them yet. I don’t feel societal pressure to have children, only biological. And even that biological pressure is somewhat tempered by knowing many women who have had babies over 40, and the fertility options that new technology brings. I’ve definitely calmed down a bit more in the past year or so, because I know I’m just not ready yet and that it’s better to feel that I have the right partner and financial situation to raise a child than to ‘just do it.’

But, for my own peace of mind, I’ll be making an appointment for fertility diagnostic testing at USC.

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Will Male Birth Control Become a Thing In Your Thirties?

Let’s face it- the thirties are a time when we think about babies. If you haven’t had babies yet and want some, you might be thinking, ‘hmm, how old is too old to have babies?’ or ‘when can we get started?’ or ‘when will I find someone to get started with me?’ If you don’t want babies, you may be thinking, ‘wow, all my friends are having babies- how do I hide everyone I know on Facebook?’ or ‘what would happen if I accidentally had a baby? Would it ruin me financially?’ or ‘what’s the best way to stop from ever possibly having a baby? (Besides abstinence, duh).’

Whether you’re female or male, and whether you want kids or not, babies seem to pop up all around you during your thirties. I bet you have at least one friend who recently had a baby and at least 5 Facebook friends who are posting pictures of their little ones right now (I probably have at least 30 proud new parent Facebook friends…and no, I don’t mind. If any of you are reading this, I like it, seriously, post away).

If you’re female and don’t want to have kids- at least at the moment, there are many types of birth control options, including a pill that you annoyingly have to remember to take at the same time every day. This pill, a popular form of birth control, puts the responsibility of avoiding pregnancy squarely on the woman. The same can be said of BC options such as IUDs and Nuvarings, and patches and the like. But soon there might be another option.

I was reading an article just yesterday about a male birth control study done with human males (as opposed to mice males in the past), that used a new form of male birth control in the form of an injection. The injection was given to the males at set 8 week intervals for a certain amount of time, and after a few months, couples relied solely on the injections for birth control. The subjects were followed for about a year, and in that time about 2 in 100 women got pregnant. With regular, correct and careful use of condoms, about 3-5 out of 100 women will get pregnant, so the male birth control injections in this study have proven to be more effective birth control than condoms.

The problems the researchers are still dealing with are the side effects of the injections- some males complained of acne and mild depression…although female birth control methods like the pill can also have side effects- including crazy mood swings and weight gain- and those are out on the market anyway! 75% of the males in the study said they’d continue to use the method despite the side effects, so that’s promising, at least. And it’s nice to know the guys are into it.

As of now, there are bound to be many more studies before this form of male birth control will actually be out and useable. So maybe we won’t all still be in our thirties by then. But technology moves fast and I’m optimistic- so who knows?

If you’re a male reading this, would you take male birth control? Why or why not? If you’re female, do you feel like the burden of birth control rests too squarely on the woman? Or are you perfectly happy to be in charge of birth control?

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How Would You Answer This Question?

What would you say if someone asked you if you agreed with the below statement?

“I’m confident that eventually I will get what I want out of life.”

I would say yes. But I happen to be a pretty optimistic person generally (if, anxious).

In a study at Clark University completed by Jeffrey Jensen Arnett, 655 thirtysomethings were asked the same question – if they agreed with the above statement.

And guess what percentage said yes? 87%. Not only that, but more than three quarters said they still feel like “anything is possible.”  That’s pretty impressive, especially considering how many thitysomethings feel like they aren’t where they want to be career-wise or personally (That’s my informal, completely un-researched opinion after talking to my friends).

Arnett, the researcher, was surprised by these results, and while he said they are admirable, he also felt they were unrealistic. That’s because he also asked these thirtysomethings if they have gotten as far in their careers as they’d hoped to be by now. And 56% of respondents (born between 1975 and 1984) said they haven’t gotten as far in their careers as they’d have hoped to by now. And 17% said they are not in a relationship now but would like to be.

Maybe it’s because we may not feel like we’re at the ‘destination’ of where we want to be, but we’re enjoying the ‘journey’ a heck of a lot. Personally, I do love the fact that I have more time and freedom right now than people with children or very demanding jobs. That time has allowed me to explore screenwriting and TV writing as a career.

We also might not be settling for less. We’re realizing that it may take a longer time to get exactly what we want, but it’s way better than settling for a mediocre career or relationship situation that society tells us is what we should have in our 30s.

When Self-Care Doesn’t Work

Last week for about the whole week, I had really, really bad anxiety. Like ‘a bubble bath and bottle of wine’ isn’t gonna help this kind of anxiety. It was strong and I didn’t feel like myself – this icky feeling possessed my brain (not Exorcist style in my body though, thank God!) in what felt like an unshakeable way. I’m not sure exactly what sparked it, but probably lots of little things that kind of exploded into a ball of overwhelm.

I tried everything. Watching my shows on Netflix, eating ridiculous amounts of pizza, drinking wine, reading cheesy magazines and books, taking walks – but nothing worked. My brain kept circling the same thoughts over and over again. Why didn’t I have more plans on Labor Day weekend? Am I going to live in this tiny studio apartment my whole life? Will I get get married and have kids? 

Those thoughts just kept repeating and repeating in my head, and I couldn’t shut them down.

I started getting angry at the idea of ‘self-care’ because it sure didn’t seem to be working for me.

So what do you do in these situations? Obviously, there’s medication, which I believe can be very helpful if you need it. But aside from that, what’s the biggest way to deal with moments like this? Now that I’m a little out of the anxiety fugue state, there’s one thing I know that works.

Riding it out. Accept that your (anxiety/loneliness/depression/fear/anger) may be PART of your life experience, but it’s not ALL of your life experience. It will pass.

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Happy Mothers Day!

First off, I want to say Happy Mothers Day to my amazing, beautiful mother! I love you so much!

Second of all, I want to acknowledge and give a shout out to all the mothers out there who are working hard to raise healthy, happy children. I know it’s a lot of work and can be more than a full time job.

In my thirties, I see more of my friends than ever becoming mothers. My Facebook page is in baby boom mode- it’s as if suddenly at least half of everyone I know is pregnant or raising a baby right now. Luckily, I’ve felt my tolerance towards and even love of baby photos on Facebook increase ten-fold from when I was in my twenties, so it’s good timing.

I’m just coming from visiting a friend of mine in North Carolina, where I was staying with her and her two and a half year old. I knew her way before she got pregnant and followed her journey through that and have watched her baby grow into an adorable, amazing toddler. I know how much her life has changed as a result of having a child. So many things have changed from the simple…
-We have to make sure restaurants are kid friendly if we take her child with us (booster seats, other parents who understand, easy to eat food.)
-Pushing a stroller can be an uphill battle (literally).
-Car seats take up lots of space
– Nap time in the house is quiet time for all of us (or else)
-Early bed times
-Early wake up times
-Way less alcohol

And then the complex:
-I asked her if she was going to visit New York this summer and it just made no sense and was to hard to visit with a two year old- even though she loves New York and used to always visit.
-She wants a house with a back yard and lots of space for her child- city living doesn’t work for her anymore.
-Her entire daytime routine is extremely structured in order to give her toddler specific structure (early wake up, grandma comes over, nap time, play time, early bedtime, etc).
-Kids need to be watched at almost all times. It can be a 24 hour job.

I give mothers everywhere extreme kudos for all the work they do and totally understand that being a mother is a full-time job that’s a lot of hard work with no pay (not in dollars, anyway). You lovely ladies deserve lots of love and kudos!

One last side note for all the amazing ladies reading this who’ve chosen not to have kids- your choice is so absolutely valid and I completely support that too! I have many friends who’ve made this choice and I fully support them. Not everyone wants kids, and that’s beyond okay! Have a great day anyway 🙂

I love you!

I love you!

Baby Fever in Your Thirties

Baby Fever in Your Thirties

I’ve always been a fan of cute things.

I love little animals, especially baby animals, and can watch cute cat videos for quite awhile- sometimes over and over again. When people talk to me about their dog or cat or any cuddly pet really, I always want to see a picture. Or two. Or three.

And I think I’ve always kinda loved really cute babies too. Cute human ones, I mean. But although I’ve always found some human babies cute, I’m quite particular, and I never really liked kids, even when I was one myself.

Lately though, I’ve noticed my love of cute little things increasing even more. I’ve always loved cute animals, but now I’m absolutely obsessed with them. I squee out loud when I see an adorable puppy in a sweater, and photos of baby pigs and pandas can bring happy tears to my eyes.

Today at work I saw an adorable baby with tufts of crazy hair sticking out everywhere. He/she made me really happy. I pointed him/her out to my coworker, a male in his late thirties, and he said ‘awww, so cute’ and then asked, ‘Do you have baby fever?’

I immediately said no, and felt embarrassed and even ashamed, weirded out by that question, especially from a guy. Baby fever seems like such a cliche in your thirties. But then he informed me that he thought HE was having baby fever- not only noticing cute kids way more, but getting obsessed with his nieces and nephews like never before.

So that was shocking. Maybe baby fever isn’t just a cliche woman thing, but can happen to guys too. He’s in his late thirties, so perhaps it happens to guys a bit later? Is baby fever even a real thing? Does being in your thirties cause this for some people?

I don’t know if I have baby fever, really. At least, I won’t admit it just yet. But I love cute things, for sure.

And so I conclude with a video of a cat building an igloo in the snow. And just in time for easter: some of my favorite very cute bunnies. And all of their friends. 🙂

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On Wanting Children

Yesterday, I was walking through the mall on a ‘self-care’ mission. I was hoping to treat myself to a new outfit to wear to my birthday drinks that night.

As I was walked by the Build-a-Bear workshop, I saw a little blonde girl clutching her mother’s hand. She looked like a mini me – light blonde hair, blue eyes – and there was something in her demeanor that reminded me of myself. Now to preface, I see children out and about all the time, but this time felt different. I didn’t see her and think “Oh, so cute!” or give her a goofy wave like I sometimes do with adorable kids. This time, I felt a pang in my gut. I wanted to be clutching my daughter’s hand. I wanted that relationship.

This fear/sadness raced through my body as I walked passed the small girl and her mom. I worried that it wouldn’t happen for me, that this experience – such a huge, life changing one – would never be mine.

Maybe it’s having just turned 34, when my own mother had me. Or knowing that the clock is officially ticking…and much louder than it was at 29 or 31.

People tell me that I’m in control of this – that I can have kids on my own. Just this week someone asked me if I had a “male best friend” who I could ask to have a  child with. (I don’t.) And while I know I could go it alone, that’s not a realistic option for me. I don’t have much money, and truthfully, I still feel like a kid myself.

The hopeful side of me thinks it’s inevitable that I’ll have children. That’s how I’ve always looked at it anyway – that it’s somehow just going to happen. But as the time ticks by, I wonder – “is there more I could be doing?” “have I made the wrong choices in my life to lead me to this point?”

I do feel like I still have a solid 3-5 years to have a child, but I’m nervous. It seems like so much would have to change in my life for me to become a mother. I’d have to meet someone, have a stable career with a solid income, and my mental mindset would have to change so much.

But that’s how life is, I suppose. You’re changing in small ways every day but you don’t realize it, until years later, you look back and see how different you’ve become. Those small changes add up in a huge way.

Leaving the mall yesterday, I walked out into the atypical LA rain storm and tried to let the feelings wash away. I soothed myself with the gentle reminder that the universe has a way of aligning things for us.

Happy Holidays! And Where Is Your ‘Heart Home’?

Happy Holidays, wherever you are! Hope you’re staying in festive spirits and spending time with family and friends.

I’ve just arrived back home in NYC after two airplane flights and two bus rides. And I have to say, there’s something about traveling for me – as in, the actual act of commuting, that puts me in a hyper reflective state of mind. Do you feel that way, too?

In the past few years, plane rides have become evaluation periods – time to look back on how I feel about my life. And today, perhaps because it was the holidays, I was thinking about the idea of home. I felt a weird sense of not knowing if home was LA or if home was NY. I’ve lived in LA now for almost two and a half years, and while it’s increasingly feeling like “my city,” it’s still foreign to me. And yet, I don’t feel as though NY is my home either. People I love are here, but there’s no professional tie for me.

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In my travels today, I started wondering the percentage of people who live where they grew up. And thanks to the power of Google and diligent researchers around the world, we can find that information pretty easily.

Apparently, according to a Pew Social trends report (from 2008), 37% of American adults have never left their hometown.

I was very surprised by this. And I got a small swell of pride for having the courage to try living in a new place.

But, this was even more shocking to me: 57% of Americans have not lived out of the current home state in the US. 

I also loved this part of the study: the idea of a “heart home;” a place where you feel most deeply connected. According to their research, more than one-in-five-U.S.-born adults say they don’t feel they are currently living in their “heart home.”

Are you?

Personally, I’m really not sure. But maybe I can have two “heart homes.” Or do you have to be monogamous to a place for it to be your “heart home”?

Interesting food for thought.

Wherever you find yourself this holiday season, “heart home” or not, try and appreciate whatever ways, however small, that it feels like home to you.

The Trouble With Thankfulness In Your Thirties

So Thanksgiving has come and gone, and we’re still here, facing the possible Black Friday carnage, and the insane cyber Monday heading directly our way.

We may have felt sincerely grateful on Thanksgiving for our situations and our families and our friends, but now holiday shopping is upon us, and work is crazier than ever, and it’s hard to remember the peace we may have felt for a second or two last Thursday.

I was talking to a friend about this the other day- how gratefulness slips through our fingers so easily, especially with years of built up stress and to-do-list habits. I can be grateful for a moment for one second, and then suddenly my mind will be racing with worry about something I don’t have or what I have yet to get done.

It’s extremely difficult to let go of the sometimes very painful old-feeling moments in life- those moments where we’re hit with a sad situation, or when we screw something up or feel guilty about something, or someone hurts us, and those same-old-feelings come up once again. It’s very hard to be thankful for all we have, when seemingly large problems are hitting us with 30-plus years of habitual worry once again.

However, I feel like it’s possible and actually quite necessary to feel thankful in my thirties way more than I have before. Every day I try to start again. It’s like brushing your teeth- you have to keep doing it- it doesn’t just last.

There have been some stressful work situations going on in my life lately where I’ve been angry and feeling wronged and hurt. Sometimes I’ve stewed in those emotions and sometimes I’ve expressed them and tried to be clear about what was wrong. All of that action had its place, and I think that it was good to express the problems and my feelings about them. However, after awhile, it became impossible to stew in the negative feelings anymore. I was causing myself unhappiness and grief. There was nothing to do but to concentrate on things that were still good- and there were many things to be thankful for.

I started feeling thankful for people who smiled at me when they walked by. For children who were adorable and quiet and sweet. For the cool breeze I felt as I walked to work. For the beautiful park I was able to run around in the morning. For coworkers who made funny jokes. For hot showers. For beautiful texts from my family and friends. For delicious hummus. For my Spotify playlist.

And I started to feel better.

We have so much and we forget. I think that forgetting is normal and natural. The habit of not thinking about the small stuff has been a survival tool that’s gotten us through more than thirty years of life. We want more and more- which can be great. We’re in our thirties- we have big dreams. We want an amazing career and an amazing marriage and maybe a family and a creative empire and a wonderful home and creative control and financial freedom.

And those big dreams are extremely important. Huge, in fact.

But we’ll never appreciate them if we can’t be thankful for what we have today.

Each moment is a win. Each day is jam packed with small and beautiful things. Don’t be afraid to appreciate them again and again and again- Thanksgiving is every day.

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Beautiful terrace view on Thanksgiving in Los Angeles 

The Happiness Boost in Your Mid-Thirties

This is complete conjecture on my part, but I have a feeling that when you enter your mid-thirties, you start to experience a subtle but profound happiness boost. Yes, maybe this is wishful thinking on my part (I’m 33), but my hunch is that it’s more than just wishful thinking. There must be more than just a biological reason that a woman’s sexual prime is in her mid-30s (in full disclosure: this long-held belief about women’s sexual prime has been debated. Some experts point it at 26, others at the early 30s).

My feeling is that as we gain confidence, security and happiness – our sexual energy levels are boosted. But what is it about the mid-thirties that gives us that happy boost? First, let’s define “mid-thirties.” From what I’ve read online, most folks define mid-thirties as between 33-37. During these four years, a lot of your hard work – be it in your career, relationships or self-growth, begins to pay off. You see the fruits of your labor.

I found this amazing blog post at MakeYourOwnDamnDinner.com that I loved! It’s called 10 Reasons Being In Your Mid-Thirties Is Fabulous. You’ve got it give it a read and hear what she has to say. My favorite reason the mid-thirties are fabulous is “The Cycle of Friendship.” She writes:

Number 8 – The Cycle of Friendship:
By 35 you’ve cycled through most of your major life milestones with your friends. Graduation, college, marriage, having kids, and maybe even a divorce. By now you know which friends are in it for the long haul and which friends are not. You realize you don’t need 294 friends…you only the core few who have stuck with you through thick and thin.

– Marie of MakeYourOwnDamnDinner.com

She also references a great quote by Wally Lamb, “Being in your mid-thirties brought benefits, I reminded myself. You begin to appreciate tidiness, smallness, things in their place. This is the shape your life has taken.”

I disagreed with one reason – that you may be done with having kids. But, as the author said herself, this reason may not be true for everyone. I imagine I’ll have kids around 36 (fingers crossed), so I won’t be done by then.

To add my own reasons to list:

  • You don’t spend as much time (if any!) with toxic people who bring you down.
  • You have a clearer sense of what makes you happy in life and you don’t spend time on things that don’t.
  • You have your own home and sense of family (even if it means a group of friends)

What would you add to the list?

What If You’re Ambivalent About Having Children?

When I should have paying attention to my professor in class this afternoon, I found myself riveted by this article in NY Mag, I Was a Proud Non-Breeder. I Changed My Mind by Michelle Goldberg. In the article, she talks about how she never wanted children and publicly declared so in an essay on Salon when she was 27 years old. But by the time she turned 35, her perspective started to shift. Her realization began this way:

“My own transformation didn’t begin with an unbidden outbreak of baby lust or a sudden longing for domesticity. It began, weirdly enough, when I learned about corpses becoming fathers. In 2011, I reported a piece for Tablet Magazine about the strange Israeli campaign for posthumous reproduction. Israel is the world capital of reproductive technology, and a legal group called New Family wanted to give parents who had lost adult sons the right to extract their sperm and create grandchildren. I have mixed feelings about making dads out of dead men, particularly if they hadn’t donated their sperm while living, but I remember being seized by the realization that if my husband were to die young, I’d want to be able to do it to him.”

How interesting that what sparked Goldberg’s shift towards the idea of possibly having children was other people’s inability to do so. This article got me thinking about my own feelings about having children. I’m not ambivalent per say, because I know I would like children eventually. But I don’t feel the urge right now, which is problematic being that I’m 33 years old. I feel like I want to accomplish more in Babiesmy career, and get further ahead before I bring a little one into the world. But I also fear that if I have a child before I’ve succeeded, I may resent my child for taking up my time when I could be writing and producing creative work.

Often times, I wish I had a very strong pull towards having children – one that would usurp all other purposeful pulls in my life. However, for now having children seems to rest in a more nebulous area of my ‘life wants.’ In two years, when I’m 35, my soon-to-be husband and I will have to start really diving into that nebulous area and make a solid plan.

So the tricky thing is, what do you do when you don’t feel an incredibly strong urge to have children, but you’re approaching your mid-thirties?

Have You Lived Alone?

There seems to be this idea that if you’re in you’re in your 30s and can afford it, it’s time to say goodbye to roommates and live alone. It’s like there’s a certain period of time for roommates and then it ends. Obviously, this is different in major, expensive cities like NYC (where I think the cheapest studio in a safe neighborhood would begin around $1200 – and that’s a very low estimate. More likely it’s $1300 now.)

A recent NY Mag article, Does Living Alone Drive You Mad? inspired this post today. The article is mostly about older people who live alone, and the author zigs and zags across different ideas, types of people living alone, and varying circumstances. Deep down, the writer seems terrified of living alone for a long period of time, which is understandable as she was married for over 20 years and now has a live-in partner. But it bothered me that the article had a somewhat negative slant.

I lived alone for nearly three years. I loved it! I loved my space, decorating however I liked, coming home to quiet (heaven for an introvert), cooking whatever I pleased, and on and on. But, I guess I assumed, deep down, that it would be temporary. I didn’t know that for sure of course, but I knew that my intention was to meet someone and get partnered up one day. Perhaps that changed my idea then, of what living alone was really like?

I think what the author of the article neglected to talk about was that living alone (if done correctly) forces you to engage with the world outside your door in a more unique, meaningful and appreciative way that living with other people. When I lived alone, I treasured going outside and made a much bigger effort to see friends, go to activities and even just take small walks to the coffee shop.

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Imagine – this is all yours to decorate as you choose. Living alone can be like getting to fulfill all your pinterest board fantasies and needing no feedback from anyone else

Some Advice on Living Your 30s Well

So true confession. I’m PMS’ing this week. Which for me means that I’m a bit cranky and craving salty foods. And also, those hormones knock my self-esteem down a notch and lead me into funny (in hindsight!), internet rabbit holes. I do random google searching about how I feel, with the goal normally being for me to feel like I’m not alone – that other folks feel the same way I do.

Tonight I googled “thirties and feel lost.” After reading Laura’s post from yesterday, I started thinking about how someone once told me that the chances of my career choice (screenwriting) being successful was like “winning the lotto.” Thinking back on that, what a crappy and mean thing to say! In my low moments, I wonder if he was right. What if I can never monetize my writing? I’ve managed to make money copywriting and writing for corporations but that’s not my goal – I want to write for films and TV. So anyway, I started to think worst-case scenario, what would I do to make money? And that’s when I googled “thirties and feel lost” and this particular Metafilter thread came up, What Do You Wish You Did in Your 30s.

In the thread, lots of 40 and 50-somethings wrote in about the regrets of their 30s. And it was somewhat uplifting. and inspiring, so I thought I’d share some of the thoughts here.

One woman wrote:

I would have divorced my first husband sooner, because I would have somehow woken up to how I was riding a wave of denial through my own life.

I would have spent way more time creating stuff (writing, acting, making art), because even if it had been shit, I’d have been that much more practiced now in my 40s.

I would have spent more time seeking out new and maintaining my existing female friendships (I’m a woman), because that kind of bond is crucial to my well being.

I would have spent those 10 years exercising, instead of taking up weightlifting at age 39 and finally honing and actually feeling my own strength.

I would have cut the few truly toxic people out of my life sooner, including my own mother.

Having said all this, I don’t have any regrets. I only look forward.
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 2:22 PM on February 18, 2014 [8 favorites]

I liked this one a lot:

Choose the happier choice instead of the, seemingly, right choice.
posted by jennstra at 4:59 PM on February 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

Many people talked about saving money. I’m sure Laura would appreciate that 🙂

If you haven’t done it already, make sure you get on top of your retirement savings (getting any matching funds you’re entitled to in your 401k, maxing out a Roth IRA, etc). It’s hard to make up for the loss of compound interest the longer you wait to get your accounts in order.
posted by bcwinters at 1:54 PM on February 18, 2014 [9 favorites]

Giving Advice In Your Thirties

Hope you’ve all had a restful Boxing day! Boxing Day doesn’t exist in the US, but is officially a day after Christmas bank holiday in the UK, Hong Kong, Canada, South Africa, and many other places around the world- and I know we have some awesome readers from these places who know all about this 🙂 Random trivia- the name ‘boxing day’ comes from when servants and tradesman would get their boxed Christmas gifts from their employers and managers the day after Christmas.

Anyway, this post started out as a short note about socks.

I was remembering when I was a child and would get upset about getting socks as a gift. Then adults would say to me: “when you’re older, you’ll appreciate getting socks!

Of course, I was positive they were wrong. But on my 30th Christmas, I received not one, but 6 pairs of socks. And I was overjoyed! I needed them! And I appreciated the pajamas I got too! And the scarf! Which I definitely could have cared less about earlier in life.

Which I guess means I’m a real adult now. 😉

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But anyway, as you may know, sometimes even though you’re officially an adult, you may not feel like an adult- especially when it comes to giving advice.

In the past, I’ve shied away from giving advice about money, even while I’ve been in the thick of paying off my student loans. I’m quite good at paying down debt (as evidenced by my major decline in student loan money owed, thank god) and I’ve spent hours and hours researching best ways to pay them down. However I’ve felt like there were people better qualified than me to give financial assistance.

And there are. But that doesn’t mean that people are going to find them. And that doesn’t mean I’m not at all qualified to give any advice- after all, I’m an adult. So I’ve tried my best to help people when they ask.

During Christmas, my younger brother Scott and my little cousin Justin were sitting together at one point, both playing on their phones and Nintendo 3DS’. My cousin (a junior in high school) suddenly started opening up about how he felt slightly pressured into choosing a certain major and how he wasn’t sure where he really wanted to go to college.

My brother, who’s 26, put down his game and gave Justin some advice. First, he asked Justin a bunch of questions. He inquired where Justin really wanted to go to school and what he was actually interested in studying. Then he told Justin to follow his heart but also to research everything. He said to be conscious of the money involved (my brother also knows all about student loans), but not to base the decision solely on money. It was a sweet moment.

I have no idea if my brother’s advice will have any influence on my cousin’s decision. But it made me think about how advice in general doesn’t have to come from an expert. And it doesn’t have to come at special scheduled times. Sometimes you’ll be asked for advice during holidays or at totally random moments. Feel confident that you’re adult enough to share whatever you’ve learned so far in life. You never know how much you’ll help someone.

How to Be Away From Home For The Holidays

I was away from my family this Thanksgiving…and the last one too.

Then last Christmas was spent at an airport, watching people with large wrapped gifts excitedly take the cheapest flight to see their families, while I headed away from mine. And last Valentines Day night consisted of 2000 miles between me and my boyfriend at the time- he spent the night with cocktails in New York, I spent it with a rather large plate of Mexican food in Spokane, Washington. New Years Eve went down working a tradeshow in Indianapolis.

Valentines Day with some Spokane Washington style Mexican rice

Valentines Day with some Spokane Washington style Mexican rice

My brother’s birthday, my dad’s birthday, my own birthday, my best friend’s birthday- I was away for them all. I had to turn down work a year in advance in order to make it to a friend’s wedding.

My job takes me all over the United States, and I love it. But more and more, the work falls on holidays. It can be isolating to be away from family during Thanksgiving or Christmas or both….these are holidays all about family and it’s sad to shake the tradition. Holidays break up the year into familiar pieces… Christmas spent at grandma’s, Thanksgiving spent with parents, New Years Eve with friends. It’s jarring to realize that I can’t rely on that anymore.

Last year, I cried when I realized I’d be working away from home on Christmas and Thanksgiving. My family was really upset. My friends and boyfriend at the time were disappointed. I felt like I’d let all my favorite people down.

But I couldn’t let myself down. I needed to work. So I got through the holidays as best I could. I had a mock Thanksgiving with friends days before I left for Phoenix, Arizona. I took the latest flight out on Christmas day in order to have Christmas ‘brunch’ at my parents house before having to run. I celebrated New Years Eve back in New York weeks after the actual day. There was a lot of rescheduling, shifting of holiday dates, and apologies…a lot of celebrations with coworkers in cities far away from home.

Does it get easier to be away from home for the holidays? Yes and no. I feel more comfortable with it this year, but it’s still trying. If you end up being away from family for the holidays due to work, financial obligations, scheduling, or otherwise, here are some strategies I’ve used to help get through it:

  • Reschedule the holiday for when you can be with your family, don’t skip it if you can- you’d be surprised how Thanksgiving can still be fun in December.
  • Celebrate the holiday twice- if you’re away from home with friends, roommates, or coworkers, celebrate with them as best you can the day of. Try not to be alone on the holiday- it can be depressing. Ask around- there are lots of other people who can’t make it home and celebrate the holidays with friends and/or coworkers
  • Know you’re not alone- even though it seems like everyone’s with family for the holidays, lots of people can’t make it home.

The holidays can become even more important to you when you don’t take them for granted. Being away from home for the holidays really makes me appreciate the time I have with my family, and makes me love the holiday season even more.

New Years Eve in Indianapolis with my coworkers ended up being pretty awesome.

New Years Eve in Indianapolis with my coworkers ended up being pretty fun after all.

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