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13 Things My 20-Year-Old Self Would Be Shocked, Amazed, And Astonished To Know I Do In My 30s

When I was a kid, I assumed that everyone in their 20s were full-fledged adults who knew exactly what they were doing. Now that I'm 30, I realize that your 20s were just a free trial of adulthood until you upgrade your subscription in your 30s. I don't always feel 30, flirty, and thriving — but at least I'm not 20, nervous, and crying.

Character with blindfold and sparkly top, caption reads "Thirty and flirty and thriving."
Columbia Pictures

Unfortunately, all my problems didn't magically disappear the moment I turned 30. I'm still anxious and afraid of the future, but I'm more comfortable with the official title of "adult" than I was in my 20s. There are signs of growth that I've been noticing lately — things I do now that I never, ever did in my 20s.

Two women are toasting with drinks, smiling, with text "To being 30. I've decided it's going to be totally awesome."
Columbia Pictures

1.I'm no longer offended when someone calls me "ma'am."

When I was in my 20s, I felt like being called "ma'am" was a sign of the end times. I thought that once I identified as a "ma'am" then I would suddenly be walking with a cane and playing bingo on Tuesdays. When I hear someone say "Ma'am?" now, and I'm just like, "Oh, that's me." I realize it's just a sign of respect and not an AARP membership initiation.

2.I am the keeper of the streaming service, and people message ME for the password — not the other way around.

This might be the biggest sign of maturity on this list. If my friends or parents get locked out of Hulu, they have to text me and ask for the password. 20-year-old me would be proud to know that I'm no longer the mooch, and I'm paying it forward for all the years I binge-watched for free. Growth.

3.Dressing for comfort > style.

I never thought I'd be able to leave the house without agonizing over every detail of my outfit in the mirror like I did in my 20s. This is what freedom feels like. I can't tell you the last time I willingly put heels on, and I REFUSE to own a push-up bra ever again. I will wear my old marching band T-shirt and Crocs to the function without a care in the world. What will happen if a stranger doesn't like what I'm wearing? Exactly. Nothing at all.

4.I keep Tums on me at ALL times — specifically, the jumbo variety pack.

Hand holding a bottle of Tums Assorted Berries antacid tablets

I don't play about heartburn anymore. I refuse to stop another Taco Tuesday in its tracks after I fly too close to the spicy sun and get jalapeño-induced heartburn. I'm not going to risk having to do an Irish goodbye at a Mexican restaurant.

Kelsie hammond

5.Daily affirmations!!

My early 20s perspective on affirmations was SO wrong. They really do help when I'm going through it! I've seen so many TV shows and movies poke fun at affirmations in scenes where an older character is mid panic and stressfully reciting affirmations like, "I am loved." and "I am worthy of love." I thought it was as silly as TV made it seem, but it's helped me inhabit my anxious 30-year-old body soooo much more than my (much more) anxious 20-year-old self.

6.This one might be too real, but I never, ever, ever shave my legs.

The pressure society puts on women to remove all of our body hair never sat right with me, but I kept doing it because it felt expected of me. At a certain point in my mid-20s, I was shaving as often as I always had until one day I thought to myself, "Why am I doing this? Who am I doing this for??" I work from home and wear pants or long dresses most of the time — so no one is even seeing my legs. What happens if they do see leg hair? What then?? Should I drive myself to jail? or will the police just know to pick me up?

7.I feel way less like a main character in public.

I'm happy to announce that the grocery store anxiety is gone. I'm still an anxious person, but it's one less thing that I have to worry about in my 30s even though worry plagued every shopping trip of my 20s. No one is watching me and judging every item I grab off of the shelf. No one cares if I forget something and have to turn my cart around. I just put my headphones on, buy my groceries, and leave. If I went back in time and told my younger self this, she would spontaneously combust.

8.I make weekend plans...to stay home. <3

Woman wrapped in a blue blanket on a couch, laughing and holding a remote. Two plates of food on the coffee table

9.Whenever I walk into a kitchen, I am physically incapable of holding back the comment, "What a lovely subway backsplash!"

In my early 20s, I was just concerned with what food was available in a kitchen. Now that I visit friends in their new apartments and homes, I find myself suuuper wrapped up in the design of the kitchen. I can't fully blame my age here, because HGTV can also take some of the heat.

10.I've become veryyyy aware of gas prices.

If I didn't understand inflation in my early 20s, I sure do now. I used to think the price of something is simply the price of it. How naive I was. So young. So wrong. Gas prices are enemy number one because they seem to fluctuate more than anything else. I never used to notice or care about them, but I sure do now. If the gas station by my house is even 10 cents less than the week before, then you'd better believe I'm pullin' up.

11.I only drink on special occasions.

By the time you turn 30, you've probably encountered a specific alcohol you can no longer consume because it demolished your ability to drink it after one particularly regretful hangover. The one hangover to rule them all. I can't even smell a cinnamon candle without thinking of the great 5th of July Fireball hangover I experienced at 24. Never again. Hangovers at 30 feel like that every time, no matter what or how much you drink. Now, I only get tipsy when I'm at a wedding, on a cruise, or watching The Bachelor. Even when I do have a few drinks, I chug water between each one.

12.I never used to read books for fun in my 20s, but now I relax by reading multiple books a month.

Reading as a hobby isn't something I expected to make an appearance in my 30s. I always loved reading as a kid, but once I had assigned reading for school, it sorta lost its sparkle. My theory is that I've had enough time away from school to view reading the same way I see TV and movies. It's a fun lil' escape instead of an academic assignment that I heavily sigh about and trudge through.

13.If the kids in the apartment above mine are being too loud, I will gladly go full Old Man Jenkins mode and hit the ceiling with a broom.

Man in a robe holding a broom up, looking at it while indoors
Mediaproduction / Getty Images

I didn't miraculously turn into an adult when I turned 20, but I think I slowly became a functional human sometime between 20 and 30, and it's things like these that remind me of that. I'm definitely still working on myself in my 30s, but it feels nice to recognize the positive growth I've already experienced.🪴

These were just examples from my own journey, but I'd love to know what things you do in your 30s that you never did in your 20s! Let me know in the comments!