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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

5 Tips for Feeling Like You've Accomplished Something By 30

Posted By on Tue, Jan 31, 2012 at 8:00 AM

I know it's bad form, but sometimes I still want to eat as much junk food as possible as quickly as possible. Last night, for example, while in line at the grocery store, I wanted to grab as many Kit Kats and Twizzlers as I could carry and shovel them into my face hole on the drive home. In the same way other people imagine themselves winning a marathon, I visualized myself eating a Kit Kat in three large, gooey bites, forgoing the traditional suggestion to break me off a piece.

But I averted hyperglycemic crisis by grabbing a small container of fat-free Yoplait Light yogurt with a picture of black forest cake on the front -- fluffy white frosting, chocolate sprinkles, two layers of moist, dark chocolate cake, a bright red maraschino cherry on top. And only 100 calories! And, as I discovered once I got home and dug in, the disappointing flavor of shitty frozen strawberries and artificial sweetener. I think those shriveled, red globs in there were supposed to be cherries. I also think one of those unpronounceable ingredients listed on the back means "cruel lies."

I bring this up because I'm turning 30 this year (shout-out to all my fellow 1982 babies), and while I hoped that by now I would have the proverbial black forest cake, instead I'm clinging to a tiny bucket of strawberry lies. Fortunately, it's not all bad, and we wayward rogues in our late 20s and early 30s can still trick ourselves into feeling accomplished and satisfied while we finish getting our shit together. In addition to the obvious, like traveling, doing what you love, and motorboating kitties, here are a few suggestions.

1. Set small goals.
When you're unemployed, underemployed, or just bored with your brain-liquefying job, time has a tendency to stretch out before you as an indefinable void, a daily narrative without any beginning, middle, or end. To stop the amorphous crazy blob from swallowing you whole, you must fill your time and/or brain with stuff, preferably stuff of value and not, for example, the afternoon lineup of tolerable basic television shows or speculation on whether Steven Tyler's face has melted off his bones yet, because he's what, like 60, and honestly way weirder-looking than he used to be.

But we live in a society in which we're taught to value forward motion, and lacking the momentum that leads to a career that leads to money for fancy things -- like name-brand laundry detergent, blueberries that aren't freezer-burned, and three-in-one rolls of toilet paper -- can make your life start to feel like the sequence in an action movie before the car blows up: You're always waiting for something to happen. When it does, you know it's gonna be huge (and maybe you're right; maybe you're wrong), but in the meantime it can help to find value in the smaller things. Like maybe watch a sunrise sometime. Or read some short stories by Miranda July. Or grow a window herb garden (or if you don't have a green thumb, maybe just a Chia Obama).

2. Have at least one outfit that makes you say "fuck yeah" at your reflection.

It sounds shallow, but even if your to-do list for the day consists of "clean cat box; apologize for last night; go to Trader Joe's; stock up at booze store," you will feel way more accomplished if you look hot while doing it. And most importantly, your hot outfit doesn't have to live up to anyone's standards but your own; for example, right now mine is a Shane MacGowan t-shirt and three-year-old skinny jeans from the Gap. I put it on; I leave the house; I run three errands; I feel awesome. It's minor but a victory nonetheless, and at the end of the day, when I peel off the jeans and holler "FREEDOM!" like Mel Gibson in Braveheart (skinny jeans really are terrible), I actually feel like I've earned a bit of television-side convalescence.

3. Cyber-stalk your unsuccessful Facebook friends.
It's probably true that, due to the recession, more of your 30-year-old pals sympathize with the phrase, "Holy fucking balls on a stick, is it fucking Friday yet, and if I defect to an extra happy hour this week, will I still be able to pay rent?" than the phrase, "Oh, happy sex on a unicorn skin, my life is exactly the sweet-ass pair of titties I thought it would be, and I can't wait for tomorrow!" Because let's face it: Rewarding careers these days are scarce, and it's easy to get stuck in a rut while scraping by.

Still, there are going to be those Facebook "friends" of yours who broadcast the daily highlights of their lives with the kind of manic, slobbering enthusiasm of a dog that's just been let out of her kennel for the first time in eight hours. It's easy to lose sight of the fact that some of these people are probably liars, and the rest aren't as happy as they say they are. Still, do yourself a favor: Block them.

Instead track down that dickhead ne'er-do-well from high school who smoked behind the bleachers, made fun of your off-brand jeans, and asked to copy your Spanish homework every day. You know what that guy is doing right now? Confusing their, they're, and there. And later, he's getting a neck tattoo of a demon.

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Angela Lutz


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