Turning 30: What Happened In My 20s Stays In My 20s. Right After This Blog.

{Today, at 3:33 pm, I’ll turn 30. It’s sort of hard to sum up a decade of madness, men and mistakes in a few words, so this is the closest you’ll ever come to Blunt Cliff Notes. While procrastinating this post, I also gave the blog a facelift. And if you can figure out how to remove that stupid orange outline on my sidebar, you would make my day.}

I always wondered what the big deal was about “thirty.”  It’s not like you’re over the hill or filling out hospice papers. It’s just thirty. 

It’s not like you have to start bringing dishes to pass at family gatherings because you are no longer a kid. It’s not like you’re going to start getting open mouth stares at the mention of being single and childless. It’s not like your license expires and your health insurance goes up. It’s not like recovery time from a night out goes from a cheeseburger and a Gatorade to a four-day process in which you hurt in places that make no sense.

Oh wait.

It is hard to remember what my life used to be like. Over the past decade, I’ve seen the best and worst in others. And I’ve seen the best and worst in myself – mostly the worst, but hey, at least that’s out of the way. At twenty, I was still with my high school boyfriend. Love was making out in dark parking lots, while I made up sixty-five different excuses as to why I didn’t answer my mom’s call. It was overdone Valentine’s Day gifts with lots of tacky red things and inedible candy hearts. And now that I have actual perspective, I can say that, yea, we loved the crap out of each other. He taught me about selfless, unconditional love. That relationship set a pattern as I left with a haunting feeling of doubt and remained in a perpetual state of confusion for years over what I wanted and needed and how I would find that balance. If I would ever find it.

I was in college not because my parents forced me or because I had great aspirations in life. That’s just what everyone did. And I love the feeling of the first day of school. I lost friends as quickly as I made them in the fickle world of self-absorbed, hormone-driven college students just trying to fit in – quite the contrast to my tiny, private high school with the same kids I’d known since 1st grade. My English 103 teacher told me I had the best talent for writing she had ever seen – frankly, I thought she was flirting with me and I didn’t give two craps as long as I passed.

Mid college years, I fell for a guy who had nearly all the criteria on my “need” list at the time. Love was possession and control. I felt claustrophobic. Doubtful; but unsure of even my doubt. It wasn’t until a year when I realized he had merely been an illusion of what I needed. The first, and least damaging, of many manipulators I would encounter in my twenties. He taught me that people always tell us the truth about themselves – it’s our fault if we don’t listen.

Amid that discovery, I was grasping for an escape. I was looking to be rescued. I needed direction and inspiration. The boy who worked in the college bookstore became all of those things to me. Love was passion and risk. He understood me in a way that has to be earned, yet we had just met. One snowy night as I walked to my car, he grabbed me and we had a conversation that changed the course of my life. He encouraged me to write. To take chances. To skip class because there are only so many perfectly beautiful fall days that one can spend daydreaming and listening to Radiohead. In a cowardly act of bravery – yes, that’s possible – I left on a plane for London the following month. Cowardly, because I was escaping. Brave, because the biggest risk I had ever taken was not brushing my teeth before bed. However, escaping didn’t work as well as I had hoped after a surprise proposal attempt from my ex.

As I explored Europe, I carried a journal of all the people I’d met. I fell in love with their stories. It was then, halfway across the world, that I realized I wanted to write for more than just a passing grade.

I came home with fresh perspective. New dreams. I started my own retail store and left college. The next two years involved a hellish ordeal of which I don’t really want to indulge. It isn’t worth it. Let’s just say, I naively thought it my obligation to do everything I could to help this person I thought I loved. I realize now it wasn’t love, because he wasn’t even who I thought he was. But I tried, while hiding it from everyone at the expense of my business and my sanity. The next two years would be an actual, literal nightmare of which I was scared to awake. Love was survival. Love was fear. Fear for his life. Fear for my life. I spent my days regretting every decision I’d made to that point. And my nights, doing anything I could to forget. 

Craving normalcy, I created a safe life for myself inside the walls of my first house and my bank job – which I hated, but figured that was what it meant to grow up. Friends were also growing up and getting families and 2.5 baths. I had finally found a stable guy who was so right in so many ways. We fought often, yet were so compatible on the “big” issues. Love was comfort and safety. When a ring entered the picture, I said yes, but my gut said no – and I wasn’t entirely sure why.

I’d lost my job, my fiancé and whatever was left of my sanity. Had a cancer scare. Men came and went. I learned how to be alone. I took up photography. A tumultuous year of jobless insomnia and depression led me back to writing and what once seemed an impossible feat became a reality. I started this blog and my freelance writing career took off, which led me to magazine jobs and editorial jobs and all sorts of things I’d dreamed of years ago in that dorm room with the boy from the bookstore. In fact,I contacted him and said  that ironically, he had inspired my first nationally published story.

I eventually got back together with my ex-fiance because of the idea of what we could be. We were good at pretending things were good. A month shy of our wedding, I left. It was incredibly scary, but in the end, we both saw it for what it was. He taught me about forgiveness, second chances and that there is such a thing as a good person who just isn’t good for you.

In many ways, I am glad to leave my twenties behind. And in many ways, I’m sad to say goodbye. They have been transformational. Interesting. Saddening. Inspiring.

The men have taught me a lot – what love looks like and what it most certainly does not. They’ve taught me that being alone isn’t scary, and it’s better than being fake happy. I’ve discovered the distinct difference between love, infatuation, desperation and competition. I know that passion is confusing. Passion does not equal love, nor are they mutually exclusive. For love without passion is worthless. I used to deem myself a “commitment-phobe.” And now I can tell you that term only applies when you’re with the wrong person.

I’ve learned that I truly do love writing. But I will no longer do it for money, only for me. 

I am still wildly annoyed by the sound of Neil Diamond, the word sausage and the way someone looks when they have mayo on the side of their mouth after eating a Panera sandwich. I drive the same crappy purple Saturn.

So, I guess I still have some growing up to do.


Other posts, elsewhere, I’ve written on these topics:

The Change Blog: Losing Your Job To Live Your Dream

College Crush: My First Love, A Nice Guy, And How I Effed It All Up

I have returned to blogging over at Celery and the City where I write about clean eating, healthy living and post allergy and gluten free recipes!

59 thoughts on “Turning 30: What Happened In My 20s Stays In My 20s. Right After This Blog.


    Your writing is indeed beautiful, inspiring, hilarious and truthful – which must mean that you are too. Amazing qualities in a friend. Even if it’s a virtual friend.

    I hope you keep writing forever.

    (and ever and ever…)

  2. I had a whole different comment that got eaten up by cyberspace, so boo to that. Anyway, the gist was that this is an awesome post, despite the fact that it makes me feel completely inadequate and insignificant seeing as I don’t have quite that kind of history to report for my first 30 years.

    But it’s an awesome recap and perspective. Age is but a number, but you’re wise beyond your years!

    • well abby, i don’t know if having that kind of history to report is the best thing in the world. haha, but hey, it’ll make a great book. amiright?

      thanks so much for being an inspiration and a wonderful virtual friend (hopefully someday real friend)

  3. Can we please be thankful that Christmas is exactly 6 months away?!?! 30 is def a milestone, but all of your birthdays a milestones. Especially with how you drive.

    Cheer up buttercup.


    • i must say that is the best thing about my birthday – half christmas.

      Oh dale, how i miss your comments. you must stop by more often. but not if you keep talking crap about my driving.

  4. I cried when I read this. I really heard you, you know? Man, you really fucking blew this post right out of the water.

    Your writing is incredibly beautiful and courageous and raw and captivating.

    Here’s to your thirties, my friend – I am already a year in, and so far, I’ve had the BEST year of my life. My twenties were terrifying, god, I was terrified, and trapped and in the midst of an 8 year relationship that was slowly suffocating me, yet was one of the most beautiful relationships I’ve ever had. And pause.

    Now, I strive to live much more authentically, I’ve rid myself of the toxic people I mixed with, and follow my passions – I want to live a meaningful life, full of wonder and happiness and honesty.

    I am rambling….

    LOVE this post.

    Much love xoxox

    • awww… that comment made my day! thats my favorite thing about writing – that someone can connect with what i’ve felt.

      I have no DOUBT that thirties are going to be kick ass. i mean, they don’t have much competition.

      thanks for reading, darling.

  5. Thank you for sharing your journey with us! I’m turning 26 in two weeks and it is both frightening and comforting to hear that someone else has gone through what I’m going through now. I’m sure the Thirties will be an awesome time, and I will make sure to continue reading your blog!

    • Thanks for reading Anna!!! Miss you and all the Monster.com gang!

      Oh 26… well you’ve still got a few crazy years ahead of you. 30 is kind of like you’re passage into being a “true” adult. … 21 has nothing to do with adulthood. hah.

      It definitely gets better. All of it. 20s are great. 30s i think, will be better 🙂

  6. Oh Brit, dear dear Brit, how things have changed over the years. How YOU have changed over the years. I could write a blog-length comment on this, but I’m going to try this new fad out called “being concise”… an attempt that I will surely fail.

    Obviously little written here comes as a surprise to me, but that doesn’t make the journey any less fascinating or interesting. It’s curious to see that you chose to define your 20s by the men who have come and gone, but considering that you, more than anyone else I know, base things off of how they make you feel and the emotions they create, I should not be surprised. It’s been an up and down decade, and while I’ve only “known” you for just over half of it, I was happy to see that in the end, you’ve made the decisions that were right for you… even if they weren’t always the easiest ones to make at the time. Sure, there were plenty of times where I wished there was more I could do to help, but you’ve always been fiercely independent and wanted to deal with things in your own way and on your own schedule… which led to plenty of days with plenty of ice cream, pasta, and avoiding the shower (and sunlight). Don’t worry, I’m still working on developing some girl drama of my own to share with you (I believe I shared some with your recently), but feel free to send girls my way to create that drama.

    The conclusions you’ve drawn from all of this, ones we’ve talked about in the past, are what make me happiest: Everyone should realize that being single isn’t scary or the worst thing in the world. You need to be happy on your own before you can really be happy with someone else. You shouldn’t force anything, or stay with someone to make anyone other than yourself happy. Hiding your true feelings will do more harm than good, and you need to be honest with others about how you feel. Passion isn’t love, it’s just passion, and the distinction needs to be drawn in your mind so you don’t get caught up in the former. You don’t look for someone you can live with, you look for someone you can’t live without (which is probably a cliche quote from somewhere, but… well BACK OFF, I totally thought of it on my own). And finally, you don’t marry someone just because you think it’s what you should do or what others expect of you, you only do it because it’s what you want to do. Everyone who matters will understand.

    Life is a journey, full of experiences and constantly learning. The highs come with some pretty terrible lows, but it’s all part of the experience. As long as you continue to grow from these experiences and the knowledge you’ve gained through them, you’ll make better decisions and end up happier, despite the inevitable loss of naivety and uptick in cynicism as you age.

    Just remember to stay true to yourself and never stop chasing what makes you happy. I have little doubt that your 30s will be nothing short of amazing.

    • OH brandon. Dearest brandon.

      I’d say you probably know me better than anyone who’s never met me. haha. Or most people who have.

      You have indeed been an amazing listener throughout all my most tormented situations – and for that, I thank you. Even though you don’t provide me much girl drama to diagnose – you could work on that a little.

      Thanks for your insights as always… I feel that my thirties will be much more smooth sailing especially if i don’t make the same mistakes as my 20s. And i won’t.

      You’re the best.

  7. Happy birthday my dear!

    Le sigh. I too left behind some unbelievable drama, devastating heartache, the drug addictions of others I tried to solve myself… as well as an abusive relationship, and the abuse I rendered on my own skin. But. As you write, I brought with me every hard-earned lesson.

    There is one thing I would add: Yes, indeed, other people teach us things we could never, ever, learn on our own – but it is up to us alone to actually learn those lessons. Don’t discount the part you yourself played in taking what happened in your 20s, and the people therein, and making them more than just happenstance.

    And, finally – “I used to deem myself a “commitment-phobe.” And now I can tell you that term only applies when you’re with the wrong person.” Damn, girl. Yep.


  8. I would tell you “Happy Birthday” but after all you’ve just written I’m not sure if that is something I should do. Better to just say “Embrace 30 while we look forward to your report in another 20.”

  9. Happy Happy Birthday to my fellow bad ass and oldest (but not in a geriatric way) Blog BF. Like I said before, this is your decade. (We both felt it, so you know it’s true.) So now it’s time to bring it!

    Me love you long time.

    ps. Now I can’t stop thinking about the word “sausage”. And feeling nauseous.

  10. Today is your Birthday! nanananananannana

    Ha…I knew a post was coming. I was just a day or two off. Did your dad dress like a clown for your birthday party??

    Oh and don’t hang out with bschooled looking for dating advice. Have you seen what she attracts on FB?

    • well i’m not on the computer as much these days…. so usually when i’m working on a post is when i’m on the Internets mostly.. you know me so well bear.

      Thanks for being my longtime bestest blogging buddy – and don’t ever talk crap about bschooled, my Arabian princess

  11. Okay, first, HAPPY BIRTHDAY BRIT!!!!!!!!

    And trust me girl, you’re love what the 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s bring to you, because life only keeps getting better and richer. There is something that happens with age. We begin to settle into ourselves and not care what other people think of us, because WE know who we are and that’s all that matters. Everything we learned (positive and negative) comes with us as we move through each decade, giving us what we need for the next.

    Beautifully expressed post!

    Again, Happy 30th year, girl!

    (((( You ))))

    X ya!

    • Ron, you are absolutely right.

      I was reading a quote the other day and it said “Women in your thirties will never wake you up and ask you what you’re thinking in the middle of the night. They don’t care what you’er thinking”

      haha. so true. you come into yourself. you know what you want. you don’t give a shit. it’s great.

      • i am back to do this justice!
        I love that you know the time stamp of your birth. (12:05pm here.)
        I have always kind of wondered about the big deal that is 30… but that being said, not long after I turned 30 I became a MENTOR. Wtf. I legit grew up. I’m not just a real grown up doctor, I am a mentor to other grown up doctors! BEING THIRTY IS FUCKING SCARY.

        (my being 30 and us hiring 2 new vets was probably a coincidence. Probably.)

        “The men have taught me a lot – what love looks like and what it most certainly does not.” – that sums up a large part of my twenties as well. My twenties was pretty much school, and horrible relationships. And not all with men. I made some questionable friend choices as well.

        “I used to deem myself a “commitment-phobe.” And now I can tell you that term only applies when you’re with the wrong person.” – this is something else I have learned, though mostly in this past month. It’s kind of weird… relationships always scared me. I resisted them. I am difficult to be close to and I avoided commiting as much as I could. And now I’m making plans to move in with a guy. Bizarre. Helloooooo thirties.

        I feel like I need to come to Chicago for more than just a weekend, you and i and a box of wine need a date. We have stories, you and I. I loved the touring about, and seeing the city, but next time I visit I think it needs to be girly times.

  12. Happy Birthday! I just turned 24 and I have really been thinking about where I want to be when I hit 30. I am hoping that I am able to have a perspective like you do. Right now things so crazy and a mess but maybe just maybe with an older wiser perspective it will become a little clearer.

    • OH my dear… 24. you’re just a kid. you have so much to experience and it’s gonna be awful and great. and you won’t be able to help but have perspective when you’re through it. just happens.

      craziness is to be expected. thats why we have our 20s

  13. I’m 43 now and can’t even remember my 20s. I wish I’d written it all down. I guess I just pretend your 20s was mine. Were the guys hot? I hope they were hot. 🙂

    • That’s exactly why I write Amy!!! Cus I realized my memory is kind of crappy. haha.

      Thanks so much for stopping by!

  14. Happy Birthday!
    Just wait until 40 is looming around the corner. As soon as I was heading to the wrong side of that one, I started my blog. Three years on and I still don’t know what I’m doing. It’s all part of the adventure I guess. I wish I could say it gets easier but it doesn’t. You just stop caring as much about what people think.

    • Oh Jen, you have nothing to worry about facing 40.

      YOu look fantastic. You have a fantastic life and you’re talented.

      No worries.

  15. Oh, man. I’m so late. But Happy Birthday . . . week? Yeah, let’s go with that. I hope you are having a great birthday WEEK!! 😉

    I love that your birthday present to yourself is Perspective. That is one of the greatest things we can ever have. Especially if you learn some valuable life lessons from all the mistakes and heartache you have experienced. Sounds like you are starting this decade off entirely in the right mindset. Congrats on making it through your 20’s!! Bring on the magical 30’s!! 🙂

    • Thank you Misty!

      I am, indeed excited about my 20s. They’re gonna be great. In a totally different way.

      Thanks for reading, dear.

    Look – all caps even! Sorry I’m late to the party – but then I always am. I would have brought cake too, but then… I probably would have eaten most of it on the way over. I always do.
    Anyway, wishing you only the very best of 30 and beyond, B.D.!
    If you get it all figured out please let me know (I’m at least 2 years in and I still have no clue. At all. Obviously)!

    • INk!

      Eh, i’m late to my own party half the time.

      And I don’t want your cake. Unless it’s an ice cream cake.

      Thanks for sticking around.

  17. I just finally got a chance to come and read, and yes, I know… I am typically one to start bugging you about the updates, but didn’t even have to this time…

    One word- Excellent!

    I think that this is easily one of the best and most real/raw posts you have ever written…
    I love the fact that you have been able to truly reflect on your past and see what you’ve learned, changed and grown from…

    You are indeed a fantastic writer and thank you for the willingness to share your thoughts with all of us as often as you do…

    Also, I must wish you a very happy, yet belated Happy Happy Birthday!

    Love & Hugs,


    • Thank you so much my dear for reading 🙂
      It’s people like you who keep inspiring me to write and not get lost in the constant busyness of life – which is easy to do. I’m much happier when I’m writing regularly.

  18. To cut to the chase–you’re at the age where most people are just beginning to grow up, in some fashion. But you’ve experienced a lot. Enough to know that you don’t want to withdraw into a cocoon now because of the “mistakes” you’ve made. That’s just called “life” girl, and you wouldn’t be the writer you are without all that great material.
    It is a myth that we ever get to the point where we’ve got it figured out–the best we can do is learn how to duck some of the punches, and the ones that land, be a little more philosophical about them than we were when we were younger. Which means recognizing that the sun will still come up in the morning, and it truly is not the end of the world. (December 22nd sunrise this year still in doubt–wait and see on that.)
    So here’s to reading more about your adventures and misadventures–and happy belated birthday!

    Cheers, tears, and beers…

    • Yea, i’m starting to notice that I haven’t cared what people think for awhile now – that is definitely part of growing up.

      I’m just glad my entire 20s weren’t a waste – they were fun, interesting, and taught me a lot

  19. I love reading your stories of life! Us women have so much in common of being with the wrong guys for the wrong reasons. Finding the wrong ones let us know what the right ones need to be like. 🙂 Thanks for sharing with us. Great read! Great writer!

  20. Happy 30 Blunty!

    Thirty is no where near a scary as your twenties. You’ve figured out who you are by now and who you’re not. You’ve come into your own and now it’s time to really go after your dreams.

    We all have reasons for the greys in our hair, embrace them. Most of all love yourself, be your own biggest fan.

    Have a great day! The best is yet to come!

    • Yes, I’m already not as scared and I’ve only been thirty for a few days 😉

      Thanks for reading Bob and yea, i don’t know about the grey hair stuff, but I’ll embrace the other things. hah.

  21. Happy belated birthday! It sounds like you’ve had quite the whirlwind decade, but you learned a lot and have developed as a person quite a bit along the way! 🙂

    • Indeed i have, Pauline.

      Thanks for being a blogfriend. Whirlwind it has.. and thank goodness the storm is over. hopefully. hah.

  22. Happy Belated Birthday, my friend! I hope this finds you doing well and enjoying your Fouth of July holiday!

    I enjoyed readind a highlight of the journeys from your 20’s. A lot of people look back and say things like, “Yeah, it happened.” But those are the things that help shape who you are today!

    I do keep a very short list of the stupidest things I’ve ever done. LOL, not my proudest moments, but ones I still learn from.

    Stop by the blog sometime! And have a great upcoming weekend!

    • Aw thanks so much complainer!

      YOu and I are kindred spirits… i assure you our lists would be very similar. There is no end to stupid things I’ve done.

      Eh, but where would this blog be without those.

  23. its a guy thing too; 30 is when you kinda run out of spare time and you recover from the weird selfdestruction of the 20s, or at least that’s how it is for me and my boyz. Thing is, the recovery from selfdestruction looks a lot like more selfdestruction, but it’s more like finding the viable core of yourself…the only bits that hold together and say you exist in any meaningful sense.

  24. Doubtful; but unsure of even my doubt.
    Oh I know this feeling far too well. I’m still immersed in it, but I’m also finally starting to overcome it. It’s the first time I feel like I might actually get past it one day.

    I’m mega late to the party here, but I love this post, as always.

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