When you hit your mid-thirties, you realize a lot of things.
Hopefully a lot of good and useful things, like, cleaning the kitchen before going to bed is always a good idea, as is making your bed and having clean sheets and towels on hand.
You know that getting a latte everyday seems a bit frivolous, but it’s your money and your life, and it brings you joy. And things that bring joy are things you hold close.
Sometimes the best choice is to buy three of the same shirts in different colors if you love it. To spend a bit more money on the sweater or shoes…
To assert yourself at work, because you’re the only one who 100% cares about your future.
To spend time with the people that matter most, and stop making so much effort to “stay in touch” with people who don’t make the same effort.
When you’re single in your thirties, there’s a whole separate batch of things you realize.
You’ve realized how disappointing and wonderful relationships can be at the same time. What you can put up with, and what you absolutely will not put up with. And a lot of times, you’d just rather be single.
That the only one who will keep track of bills and car upkeep and the things your landlord said they’ll do is YOU.
That you can travel to the other side of the world, or the next city by yourself and still have fun. That dating is exhausting, but with practice it can be kind of fun and easy to predict.
That being able to have blush-colored curtains and not fighting with someone about them being “too feminine” is kind of nice. You can eat a pile of hummus and carrots for supper. Or Dairy Queen.
But you also start to realize that since you graduated school, there’s not much that is celebrated in your non-traditional life.
When you were 23 and first got your own place, people handed over old dishes, unwanted pink towels, and old tvs… but at thirty-three, you’re realizing these things are worn and ugly and… sometimes you think it would be nice to have matching towels, a Kitchenaid mixer and some West Elm furniture like your married friends do.
But since there was never any reason to celebrate you in the traditional sense, no one ever felt the need to buy you Target or HomeGoods gift cards to get yourself something nice. If you want these things, then you must use your single person budget and figure it out.
No one throws you a party when you get a puppy. And animals are expensive and exhausting. Sure, it may not be an actual baby, but for the first year, it’s pretty damn close. Vet bills, surgery, food, lack of sleep, extra cleaning, outfitting a house with supplies and at least two crate sizes, leads and harnesses, toys and beds….
Where’s the girls weekend away and monogrammed tank top for when you land your “almost dream job?” Or the party and gifts for when you get a house that finally isn’t a crappy apartment? The cards and best wishes and people crawling out of the woodwork with questions when you book an art show like they do for an engagement, or even a photo of you and a guy?
And why do I feel selfish when I ask these questions? Can I send out cards to everyone whose weddings and showers I attended to and tell them I’m registered for gifts because I made it to my thirties as a whole, independent and happy woman? (A-la Carrie Bradshaw)
When will we decide that other life paths and choices are worthy of celebration and joy? That women (and men) deserve encouragement and support on a daily basis and that only rewarding people for traditional lifestyle choices, (which, I might add, some people never really have a say in) is outdated and isolating.
…Also, let me know if you’d like to send me a giftcard to Homegoods, West Elm or Target. I wasn’t kidding about needing those matching towels.
Author: Emily Ogden
Author Bio: Music, writing, art, books, sleeping on airport floors, drinking too much coffee. Currently living, working and taking photos in Columbus, OH.
Link to social media or website: Instagram @emogden