In 1997, an article listing 30 things women ´should have and should know by the age of 30´ was published in Glamour magazine. ´The List´ struck a chord with thousands of women and was an internet sensation, and its ongoing popularity sees it published 15 years later as a book, complete with commentary from iconic ladies such as Maya Angelou and (er….) Taylor Swift.
So, while I agree with certain things- having a few juicy stories to tell the grandchildren and how to fall in love without losing yourself, for example- the majority of points on the list are geared towards a specific demographic: the career-orientated city-dwelling sexpuss, none of which I am.
The other day, when frantically rummaging through my wardrobe for something to wear for a TV interview, I suddenly realized I should have heeded numbers three and four of the list: ´Something perfect to wear if the employer or man of your dreams wants to see you in an hour´ and ´a purse, a suitcase and an umbrella you’re not ashamed to be seen carrying.´ Let´s add to that two more small pieces of advice: Get your roots done before appearing on television, and make sure you have a friend within running distance of your house who doesn´t mind lending you something appropriate at the last minute.
Ok, ok, I know for next time. But let´s put this list into perspective. At 31, I can safely say that the most important things I have learned have nothing to do with my appearance, my career or my sex life. It´s not about having a cordless drill and a black lace bra, a pension plan and an impressive resumé, a fancy designer handbag and a strict exercise regime.
It´s about the inner changes. It´s about empowerment, wisdom and perspective. Here is my alternative list of 30 things women should have learned by the age of 30.
1. Accepted that a relationship is bad for you- and let go gracefully without blame, anger or bitterness…even if you still feel the love.
2. Travelled enough to learn how life looks from a different cultural perspective.
3. Done something that scares you and realized it really wasn´t a big deal after all.
4. Forgiven all the people who have hurt you in the past… and forgiven yourself for any ´mistakes´ you´ve made- they all taught you crucial lessons.
5. Discovered your passions: started a new hobby, learned a new skill or craft, or rekindled a forgotten childhood ambition.
6. Accepted the fact you´re not perfect and stopped feeling guilty for having faults.
7. Learned how to say sorry when you are wrong and to not say sorry when you aren´t.
8. Dumped any toxic friends you put up with in your 20s.
9. Had your heart broken, and from that experience learned exactly what you need from a relationship and exactly what you won´t put up with. Under any circumstances!
10. Had lots of fun as a single woman in the meantime, without panicking that you need a relationship to be whole. No, no, no ladies….
11. Learned when to say yes to make other people happy and when to say no to make yourself happy.
12. Have experienced love with a person who brings out the best in you and doesn´t want to change a single part of you…and loved like that in return.
13. Answered THAT question: can women have it all? according to your own personal situation, and followed your own path.
14. Made new friends as an adult with people who don´t see you through the hazy memories they have of you in braces and knee socks.
15. Laughed at something which once seemed like the end of the world.
16. Spent time alone and silent in nature.
17. Realized your body is perfect in its imperfections.
18. Learned it´s truly important to treat everyone the way you want to be treated.
19. Made a fool of yourself in public, and survived.
20. Learned it´s ok not to know where you are going, what you want to do, and whether you want to be a mum.
21. Dropped everything for a friend in need and cherished those who will always do the same for you.
22. Done something for a good cause and thought about what small things you can do to make the world a better place.
23. Developed your very own perspective and philosophy in life that keeps you strong and gets you through the rough times.
24. Learned to love your own company, and that you should be in a relationship because you want to be, not because you need to be.
25. Learned how to play like a child again.
26. Learned how to leave the past behind….
27. And stopped worrying about the future.
28. Followed your dreams, however crazy they are.
29. Learned to listen carefully to your intuition.
30. Celebrated each passing year as another year wiser.