In human years I am 29. In actress years I’m the ripe, promising age of 18 to 35. That’s how it works here in Hollyweird. You aren’t a specific age—you’re an amorphous mystery cloud of time that molds to whatever the director has in mind. “Sure, I’m a freshman in college! Can’t you tell by my ponytail and henna tattoo?” or “Of course I’m a 34-year-old neuroscientist. Did you not see my lab coat and sensible shoes?”
Back in the human world, though, I’m hitting a major milestone: 30, or as I like to call it, the Cut the Bullsh-t and Go Be Awesome stage. I’m thrilled about this impending development (I might finally grow boobs!), but my brain has some catching up to do (I’m gobsmacked when bartenders refuse to ask for my ID).
Sure, it’ll be tougher to convince an audience I’m the “feisty young coed,” cramming for my biochem final and wondering if Zac Efron‘s character likes my new crushed-velvet headband, but I was never crazy about those roles anyway. People assume actresses are afraid to get older; the truth is the roles get a whole lot more compelling once you’re too old to play dumb. So I’m welcoming this development with open arms, and so should you. Here’s some advice I’m offering (and hopefully also taking).
DON’T freak out about all the brilliant people who accomplished more than you by 30.
Yes, Einstein had discovered the theory of relativity by your age, and Emily Brontë had written Wuthering fu*#ingHeights, but honestly, what you achieve is far less important than what kind of human being you are. What do you want people to say at your funeral: “Olivia may have cured HIV, but she ran over my cat and drove away laughing”? No, thanks! I’d rather be a good person who makes people happy than a dick who wins a Nobel by 32.
DO enjoy your sexual prime.
Hey oh! According to horny Professor Alfred Kinsey’s 1953 page-turner Sexual Behavior in the Human Female, women really start heating up in their thirties, so let’s just say it’s finally your turn to act like an 18-year-old boy—except you’ll be 1,000 times better at…everything.
DON’T cut your face.
I am so saddened and grossed out by young women who look like creepy, old aliens because of their new Barbie noses and lips. Is that a smile or a grimace? Did you melt hot wax on your face, or is that your skin? A better approach: Take care of yourself now that you’re old enough to know how. Drink water, sleep eight hours (I wish), and don’t go within 400 feet of a tanning booth or I’ll slap you. Hard.
This is possibly the last time until retirement that you won’t be considered a bad person for booking a last-minute ticket to Morocco with friends just because you damn well feel like it. You’re old enough to know where not to go (Cancún) but young enough to feel guilt-free being entirely unreachable.
DON’T propose to the next guy you meet just because you worry he’ll be your last chance at lifelong companionship.
Sure, you’ve attended more bridal showers than yoga classes in the past year, but that doesn’t mean you’re destined to be a craggy spinster, searching for roommates on Craigslist at 50. The danger with “husband hunting” is you start to see every date as a job interview (“He does seem to be homosexual, but that might be good for fatherhood!”); it clouds your ability to get to know someone.
DON’T feel pressured to pop out kids.
I love kids with a passion I usually reserve for hot cheese, miniature chairs, and Prince concerts, but I feel no stress to reproduce simply because of a fear of withering eggs. Wait for the right partner, and make sure you’re where you want to be in life before picking neighborhoods based on school districts. This is not to suggest you should live irresponsibly for the next 10 years, then expect to get knocked up when your chosen dude finally sneezes inside you. But you’ll never find the right baby-maker or enjoy baby-making if you’re doing it out of anxiety. Relax, be good to your body, and when the time is right, get busy.
DO reap the benefits of your accumulated wisdom.
You’re 30: You know stuff now. Your twenties were for “ducking up,” as my auto-correct would say, and learning from those mistakes. (For instance, never again will I convince myself that sleep is for sissies and go straight from a party to the airport. You will not “sleep on the plane”; you’ll vomit in the security line. Go to bed.) Now you get to live with that knowledge under your belt. Also, make it a nice belt. You’re 30. Stop dressing like a hobo.
DO learn a new skill.
You’ve already lived longer than most women in the thirteenth century, so why not look at your thirtieth as a rebirth? I started stand-up paddleboarding at 29 and consider it my baby step toward becoming a badass 30-something semipro surf goddess (as long as the sharks go vegan).
And DON’T be bogged down by your past.
Saturn has now orbited the sun once since you’ve been alive; make this next go-round whatever you want it to be. Consider your baggage (bad boyfriends, job setbacks, body issues) lost by the airline of life, leaving you empty-handed at your new destination with only one choice: Go shopping.
That’s it. Now go—be awesome.