I happen to be of the most direly mundane and sorely depressing age in the great expanse of the universal stratosphere: Twenty-F*cking-Nine.
"Wow, you're, like, turning 30 next year, Zara. How do you feel about that?" my smug, pore-less, 23-year-old little cousin asked me the other day.
She tapped her iced soy latte with her ridiculously long, burgundy acrylic nail after smoothing down a non-existent halo of imaginary frizz from her pin-straight, silken hair.
And, as her lips twisted around the number "30," she said it like she feels sorry for me.
Like 30 is old. And poor little Zara is about to embark on a tragic new era of her life, one defined by the bleak banalities of real "adulthood."
Like the plethora of fun I've experienced in my 29 years of existence is about come to a screeching f*cking halt come my thirtieth birthday (May 1, for the record).
As if, on the fine morning of my thirtieth birthday, I will emerge from my four-poster bed with a forehead full of deep-set lines, 10 extra pounds magically packed on to my formerly slight physique.
Like, all of a sudden, I will be filled with an irrepressible desire to wear nothing but conservative, stiff pencil skirts that have been dutifully starched to perfection and pointed-toe mid-heels (I have a visceral reaction to mid-heels. The mid-heel is the most half-assed idea in fashion. Go high or go flat -- but commit to ONE, damn it).
Not so fast, young kittens, because herein lies the truth: I can't wait to turn 30. I have zero fears, issues or qualms about entering this fierce new decade.
And why should I have dark feelings about turning 30? Why should anyone?
After all, the thirties are a fresh and fabulous decade in which women truly come into their glorious own. I've always envisioned the 30-something woman as an unstoppable force of nature blooming in her prime.
The 20s, on the other hand, are nothing short of one scalding-hot, hyper-humiliating MESS. A mess no one wants to clean up.
It's the decade of ceaseless career confusion, relentless self-doubt, embarrassing whiskey blackouts, never-ending sh*tty dates, perpetual underlying anxiety, endless disappointing sexual encounters and a slew of harrowing meltdowns.
In your 20s, you're stuck in this agonizing, brutal in-between period.
It's like adolescence all over again, except worst, because you have to show up to work every day and pay bills.
It's sort of like being a teenager except with real consequences. It's like being in the twilight zone, a purgatory, a restless and uncomfortable space that lives between the recklessness of childhood and the responsibility of adulthood.
Yes, there have been a handful of important, pinnacle moments in my 20s:
I've been kicked out of half the bars on the Lower East Side. I've dated a healthy handful of emotionally unavailable douchebags. I've been set up on blind dates that were so traumatic I've contemplated becoming a nun (I'm Jewish).
I've screwed up, melted down, broken up, changed careers and learned it all the hard way. I've been off happy pills, on happy pills and off happy pills again.
I've cut my hair. Hated it. Grown it. Hated it. Cut it. Hated it.
I've had a beautifully messy decade-long run. I've got it all out of my system, and you know what? I'm ready to leave it all the f*ck behind.
I can't wait to hop off this wildly emotional rollercoaster of my 20s and enter the stone-solid ground of 30.
Twenty-nine sounds f*cking older than 30.
Twenty-nine -- it just sounds depressing.
It's the last year of the worst decade of your life, and trust me, as a 29-year-old, I will safely inform you 29 doesn't let you leave the throes of your 20s without a fight.
All of the f*ck-ups you cultivated throughout your 20s will appear throughout your twenty-ninth year, only magnified. It's like the entire decade is giving you one final F*CK YOU, ensuring you never forget it.
I've only been 29 for a short six months, and let me tell you, I've experienced all the tribulations of my twentieth decade all over again during this short span of time -- I've blacked out; I've kissed the wrong person; I've dated the wrong person and had a slew of cringeworthy cry-outs.
Plus, doesn't 29 just sound washed up and tired? It has no ring to it. It lacks poetry. It's unsexy.
Thirty is a fresh start.
Embarking on a new decade feels like a fresh start. It provides you with a sparkly new lease on life. Sifting through the rubble of your 20s is like crawling through mud.
I've been in my 20s for almost 10 years, now. I'm ready for something different.
My 20s are akin to that ex who won't leave you alone. The one with all the baggage. You suddenly get tired of all the fights, the stacks of issues, the heaps of bullsh*t. You just want to fall into the arms of someone new.
Turning 30 feels like I'm entering a sexy new relationship. And we all know the best part of a relationship is the honeymoon phase in the beginning, right?
You're better in bed in your 30s.
If you've only had sex with boys and girls in their 20s, then I feel oh so sorry for you. Poor thing. People don't know what the f*ck they're doing sexually in their 20s.
Once you've slept with entities out of the pitfalls of their 20s and are in their fabulous 30s, it's an entirely different experience.
Men and women in their 30s just know what the f*ck they’re doing. They've matured in life and in sex.
They know how to touch a woman. They don't just savagely ravage you like a wild desert animal in heat because they can't control their teeming hormones.
Not only do they take their time and understand the fine art of the tease, but they're also far less self-conscious. It's impossible to have amazing, mind-blowing sex when you don't feel comfortable or attractive in your own skin (which is the case for most 20-somethings).
Which leads me beautifully into my next point:
You're more secure in your individuality in your 30s.
The 30-something woman: self-assured, laughs with authentic ease, isn't wildly self-conscious and perpetually freaking out over what everyone in her orbit thinks of her.
The 23-year-old girl: madly insecure, doubts everything from her boots being all wrong to her haircut being too trendy to her oversized tote not being trendy enough.
Life is so much better when you let go of that desperate "Is this ok?" neurosis and start being who the f*ck you are.
In your 30s, everything you say doesn't elicit a dramatic eyeroll.
No one takes you seriously in your 20s, and it sucks. Your lack of “experience” gives you a lack of credibility.
Do you know how many times I've attempted to have serious conversations with people, and despite my educated, informed, well-read opinion -- I'm always met with a sarcastic, dramatic eyeroll.
"Oh honey, you're still in your 20s. You're cute."
I look forward to the fine day I never hear that phrase uttered out of the conservative mouths of misogynistic, ignorant pricks again.
Your 30s are more balanced.
You have an inherent understanding of balance in your 30s you can't quite attain in your 20s.
Your 20s are a time of extremes. It's all or nothing. You're nothing but a glorified teenager wearing grownup clothes.
It's the decade of either getting wasted at the dive bar or suffering through 30 days of juice cleansing.
Balance is beautiful, and I envy the even-keeled life of my 30-something friends.
They've learned how to enjoy a nice glass of wine at a sophisticated dinner without it turning into 4-am bender -- in which you may or may not find yourself doing drugs in a disgusting bathroom stall with random strangers you just took four shots of tequila with.
You're in that sweet spot of mature but still fun and hot as f*ck.
You're in such a sweet spot when you turn 30. You're still young. You're still hot (and better in bed).
It's not the dark ages: There is no longer the need to be freaking out about marriage and babies come 30, but you're just old enough to know what's up.
You're young enough to be gloriously gorgeous and fabulously fun, except this round, you’ll know how to handle yourself. And a woman who can handle her sh*t is the sexiest woman of all.