There has been a recent explosion of online articles with a focus on what is and isn’t appropriate beyond a certain age, and maybe because I now fall into the target demographic or because these have been blasted all over my Facebook newsfeed, I’ve begrudgingly read a few. There is of course the ubiquitous “things you shouldn’t wear past 30” slideshow, deeming animal prints and large sunglasses too racy for 30+ women, and shirts with words or brightly colored sneakers inappropriate for 30+ men. There are articles about how the adult crowd should appropriately decorate their space (no framed music posters or unmade beds, but you must have bamboo blinds and stainless steel appliances), conveniently followed by links to buy all the things you need to be a “proper” adult. And if you thought, okay, I know how to dress and furnish my home, but how should I act, there are plenty of lists of what behaviors you should have given up by now (beer on Thursday and sleeping in are no-no’s).
There are also the articles about all the things you should do before you become 30. Because as these young writers know, after the golden twenties, none of us want to DO things or express ourselves. I’m pretty sure I read one article that actually called 30 the beginning of the end… 30?! Seriously, I had no idea. For some reason, I thought humans were starting to live into their 100’s, but it’s hard to keep track with all this online information. You know, probably because I’m aging or whatever.
Speaking of which, how the heck did we keep track of what was age appropriate before the internet? Gosh, with so many articles, how will you, the newly old, keep track of the many new age based rules governing appropriate behavior? So overwhelming!
Fortunately, there is a way to cut through all the confusion! These articles all have one thing in common; the word should. As in you should stop wearing anything fun; only wear tops that can be considered blouses and pants you can call slacks. Anything that gives you a rush, you shouldn’t do that, but you should revel in the excitement of trips to Bed Bath and Beyond, because at this age, you should only be excited by nonstick cookware and thread count. Your weekend hobbies should be having one drink at a chain-owned restaurant in an outdoor shopping mall and making sure your home is as meticulously organized and color coded as an IKEA display. Mostly, after 30, you should stop having so much damn fun.
Seriously, fuck those articles.
Ooops. The article about the things women shouldn’t say after 30 would probably advise I clean up my vocabulary, especially in my very public blog, because anything else would be inappropriate. Unfortunately, I’m not a fan of social constructs or rules dictated by poorly written click-bait articles, and I’ve never been good at appropriate. But seriously, have I learned nothing from my 20’s?
Don’t you worry. I’ve done some reflecting, and made my own list of things you should NEVER do after 30.
You shouldn’t (unless you want to, because I don’t make the rules either)
- Conform to social mandates that require you to show up as anyone but yourself, no matter what age you are. Because hopefully at this point, you’ve been around long enough to figure out that you have free will, and that showing up as you feels a lot better than fitting a mold.
- Judge others by what they wear, own, how they choose to express themselves, or what they do for a living. Do what makes you comfortable, let others do the same. If you don’t like wearing zebra print leggings because you don’t feel it’s age appropriate, cool. But leave the person who wants to rock them alone. You aren’t a teen on the movie Mean Girls, you are an adult. You have no excuse not to support and encourage free expression.
- Hold back who you really are. So, you aren’t 20 anymore. Thank god, because hopefully you’ve used those years of wisdom to learn to love yourself enough to do what makes you happy, not to gain the approval of others, because you know maturity has less to with what you wear, say, or own, and more to do with confidence and showing up authentically.
Really these apply to any age. And even if age is just a number, there is something to be said for more years of experience. Being 20 was great, mostly I didn’t have these weird wrinkles in the corners of my eyes, but boy was I clueless. With years, come wisdom. And, hopefully instead of using those years to begin accumulating knowledge of age appropriate fashion, what constitutes a stylish home and brag-worthy career, we can use that time to begin to acknowledge that life is finite.
As in…You won’t look back from your deathbed and wish you’d been more socially appropriate, but you might regret the way you inhibited yourself and the opportunities for joy you turned down, because you actually paid attention to some silly fabricated social rules.
The point being, the real thing you should do is whatever makes YOU feel alive.
Sidenote: If you are one of the people who has written an article about what people should or shouldn’t do, no offense intended, but maybe just maybe you should commit more energy to loving everyone for their outrageous and timeless wonderfulness (including yourself 🙂