5 Things Every Woman Should Know Before She Turns 30
I'm turning 30 in a few days. Yes, I've mentioned it a few times. I've finally (mostly) made peace with the idea and am actually looking forward to embracing a new decade - as scary as that sounds. The fact is, I just can't seem to wrap my head around the fact that I'm getting older. I know that sounds crazy - I have a calendar and I can see the years ticking by - but I just don't feel any older. When I was a teenager my mom used to always say "I get it. I don't feel any older than 18 myself." Every time she said it I would roll my eyes. I mean, of course she had to feel older than 18. She was in her 40's!
Now I get it. What is it that they say about payback again?
I don't exactly feel 18 - but I feel stuck at about 23. I still feel sort of giddy when I order a cocktail in a restaurant - like I'm not old enough. I still look to my fiance' for help - I always ask him what he thinks I would like. And while motherhood has changed me - sometimes I still think that I'm more excited for a trip to Walt Disney World than my kids are. Some things just never change.
But 30 is staring me in the face - and there are some things that, at 30, I do feel more prepared for than I did at 23. Not only that, but I don't think any woman should turn 30 without all 5 of these things locked down - for her own good.
1. A savings account and a retirement plan. A woman at 30 should be able to understand and make decisions about her own money and be saving some for both her retirement and in case of an emergency. Even married women should have a plan of their own in case something tragic were to happen to their spouse. Also, having been divorced once I'd like to point out that happily married women should have a plan for their futures as well - heaven forbid they are left to fend for themselves. Sadly, it happens every day.
2. An education or a skill that can be leveraged as a career. I know lots of women choose not to work, and I think that's perfectly fine. However, there is someone very close to me who found herself 45 years old and newly divorced without a college education. She had not worked since she was 22 or so. Let's just say that a 45 year old woman entering the workforce with the same skills that can be acquired by a 22 year old (but with a lot more responsibility and, let's face it - bills on her plate) does not fare well. Get an education, perfect a skill - and keep it sharp. You never know when you'll be called upon to use it.
3. A general understanding on how to read a contract. For the rest of your life, you will be reading contracts. Buying a house or a car, taking a new job, etc. all require you to read a contract. You should always understand what you are reading, and if you don't, you shouldn't be afraid to pay a lawyer for a few hours of their time to help you figure it out. Let me be frank - if you can't properly "decode" a contract your odds of getting screwed over in this lifetime are relatively high. It's a worthwhile investment of your time to figure this one out.
4. Never be afraid to ask questions, or answer one with "I don't know". Remember as a child, the need you had to say "I knew that" to almost everything? Guess what - it's ok to drop that now. If you don't understand something - ask! It's ok if you feel shy or sheepish, there is no rule that says you should know the answer to everything. It's a mark of maturity to admit that you don't know all of the answers, and an even bigger one to admit that sometimes you need help. Also, if someone asks you a question that you don't know the answer to - just say "I dont' know". If it makes you feel any better you can always follow it up with "But I can find out for you."
5. An understanding of her strengths and weaknesses. We women are notoriously humble. Sometimes we are overly humble - and we don't take credit for things that we should. At 30, a woman should be confident in her strengths both personally and professionally and be able to use those to her benefit as well as the benefit of those around her. If someone at work compliments you on something that you did well - and you know that you did it well - you should stop saying things like "it was no big deal" and instead, say "thank you." You should also be acutely aware of your weakness - this has nothing to do with being humble - and not be afraid to step aside if something is not your strong suit.