How To Be 30 – By Glamour

Ah the memories… delightful freeloader Arianna Huffington, creator of My Blog Is Your Blog (aka The Huffington Post) has decided to resurrect (copy/paste) a classic work of modern women’s literature. In 1997 Glamour compiled a list to measure your life/concentration power by: “30 Things Every Women Should Have And Should Know By The Time She’s 30” (bit clunky, you’ll be 30 by the time you’ve read the title of the articl… oh, MANY HAPPY RETURNS!).

Arianna & co got permission to reprint this tome purely: “Because the list made us so happy”. Why do you need another reason? The list was hugely popular (a “phenomenon” according to HuffPo) so it’s bound to make loads of other now ignorant women happy too (and secure lots of hits for Arianna… Most Popular On Huffpost by more than 80k Facebook “Like”s so far). It matters not whether it’s relevant, or intelligent, or necessary, or has always been a tedious checklist of immemorable, stress-inducing, philosophical waffle that reads like a series of Facebook updates from members of the Fans Of Steel Magnolias group. The list of 30 “Things” you should master by the age of 30 is vital assessment criteria to guide you on your quest to becoming a 30-year-old woman, like properly. The fact that there are 30 criteria is a mere coincidence. What are the odds? (Zero, it sounded clever to someone somewhere clutching onto their copy of Confessions Of A Shopaholic).

It’s unfortunate then that for me, the list is of as much use as buying and attempting to read a copy of Mandarin For Idiots. Visiting China is not on the horizon right now. It may never happen while I continue to battle through my 20s on a shoestring budget, losing brain cells on the floor of an Addison Lee at 3am several times a week crying to Total Eclipse Of The Heart. And even if it did happen and I made it to China, I’d try and speak the only way I know how anyway and just pray I didn’t end up eating honey-glazed dog bollocks while perching on something that’s probably a toilet. So what’s the point in freaking the shit out of myself trying to read Mandarin?

Glamour’s list would look nicer if it were in Mandarin; at least that way it could be used as wrapping paper. But I digress… In English, the list is an alarming, insufferably “helpful” threat to all women under and over 30 that says: if by the time you reach 30 and you haven’t done all these “Things”, you (and Britney Spears who is 30 now too… ZOMG when did that happen) will be stuck wavering between womanhood and the foetal stage TILL THE END OF DAYS.

As I’m 25 and exactly 6 months old (*self-satisfied but also doomed face*) I have four and a half years left to achieve the 30 “Things” (there goes my time enjoying more cryLOLs on the Addison Lee floor) before I am doomed to spend the rest of my life like poor Britney who is still not a girl, not yet a woman according to court ordered conservatorship. So in an attempt to not arrive at my 30th birthday in weird non-womanly limbo (with birthday cake though… every cloud), I will seek to understand the list and assess how close I am to failure.

By 30, you should have ...

1. One old boyfriend you can imagine going back to and one who reminds you of how far you’ve come. Wow! Getting off to a gentle start here. Well, given I take all my cues from Beyonce’s Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It) (When I start to hum “uh oh uh oh uh oh ohnana” that’s a sign things aren’t going well, dudes) and TLC’s No Scrubs I’ve screwed myself over on this one a bit. How could I imagine getting back with ANYONE I’ve rapped (actually rapped) Lisa Left-Eye Lopes at? Also – I don’t think I’ve had a relationship that can remind me how far I personally have come as an individual of 25 but I do remember one where I found out how to change the language on my phone so I could say FUCK YOU YOU FUCKING FUCK more effectively. Suppose there’s time. (Also I swear on Kelly Clarkson’s Since You’ve Been Gone, if any of my mates entertain the thought of getting back with their exes I’m going to reclaim so many teabags/bottle of gin that they will wish they’d never been born 30 years ago).

2. A decent piece of furniture not previously owned by anyone else in your family. Ho-kay. As I have rented all over the world (parts of England and briefly the US) since I was 17, I don’t have any furniture I could call my own besides a transparent plastic wastebin from IKEA. Sometimes I don’t live in furnished flats and my Marshall amplifier has to double as a magazine rack/shelf for perfume bottles. I say “double”, I gave up on my progrock guitarist dream when I realised that I’d never be able to afford decent furniture doing that as a job. Come to think of it, I’m now realising I still can’t afford decent furniture… oh screw you Glamour, will I ever have enough material things to be a proper woman?

3. Something perfect to wear if the employer or man of your dreams wants to see you in an hour. Do you mean something that is perfect when I’m having a good skin tone day but which is also good for when I’m bloated from period/too much midnight Shredded Wheat Bitesize dipped in jam? Why do they want to see me in an hour – do I not get bargaining time? I thought we took aaaaaaaages to get ready. Of course, right you are… I am a woman desperately hoping someone will want to see me eventually and prepared to drop everything in an hour (including clothes) in the event dreams come true. Also, do my Converse go with this outfit because I CAN’T WEAR ANYTHING ON MY FEET ALL DAY IN CASE OF EMERGENCY THAT’S NOT PARALLEL TO THE GROUND. 

4. A purse, a suitcase, and an umbrella you’re not ashamed to be seen carrying. So I didn’t get the memo when they invented the cool umbrellas…? The only time I was ever embarrassed by my suitcase (Matalan sale, always worth a look) was when it got trapped in the upper part of the carousel and I had to stretch over lots of luggage to get it and I flashed my sunburnt tush to the patrons of a Boeing 777. Generally I’m not ashamed of suitcases because I see them as a way of showing off and saying “I am going on a holiday and I don’t care that my bikini is travelling in a plastic case that looks like a dead zebra.” My purse is really lovely but my main issue is that the money I put in it never seems to be there when I open it up again, and that is completely shameful when I’ve said I’ll buy a round.

5. A youth you’re content to move beyond. Are you telling me 30 year-old women don’t play MarioKart in their kecks, eating BabyBel with a side of Heinz spaghetti hoops while waiting for the gas man some days? What exciting times we live in. 

6. A past juicy enough that you’re looking forward to retelling it in your old age. Look, I’ve done some pretty wild things but I can’t re-enact every scene of Breaking Bad before I’m 30 because then I’ll be bored for the MAJORITY of my life when it all stops happening in my “old age” (30). Have you thought this one through, Glamour?

7. The realisation that you are going to have an old age -- and some money set aside to help fund it. This is about pensions, isn’t it? (But mainly marrying rich). Really guys, if I make it that far how much is a jumbo pack of colostomy bags and some Werther’s Originals actually going to set me back? Be honest because… oh let me just take this phonecall from my landlord about hiking up my rent next year.

8. An email address, a voice mailbox, and a bank account -- all of which nobody has access to but you. By 30? You feeling ok? I’ve been on this since before Gaga started bleeding. This is not Big Girl stuff.

9. A résumé that is not even the slightest bit padded. BUT I HAVEN’T MADE IT AS A CAREER WOMEN IN A DRESS FROM REISS YET! And if I say I only got the Duke Of Edinburgh “Bronze” at school there’s no point in having it on there. Also, I know most of the dance to Backstreet’s Back, I’m just not good at the gymnastic bits because of my weak back. So technically the CV is not “padded” (let’s call it “flavoured”). How else do I accommodate for the fact that I’ve spent my 20s making people in their 30s cups of tea? 

10. One friend who always makes you laugh and one who lets you cry. That’s the corniest shit I’ve ever read. And what if they don’t like each other because I’m a woman and my moods are so unpredictable that there’s little evidence to say I won’t turn from cackling Bette Midler to sulking Claire Danes at the mere sight of a poorly iced Hummingbird cupcake. 

11. A set of screwdrivers, a cordless drill, and a black lace bra. Am I getting my own Nuts shoot when I’m 30? Or have I missed this episode of Blue Peter? Please say I can still call a dude in to handle anything with the words “Black” and “Decker” brandished on it without losing command of my lady parts? 

12. Something ridiculously expensive that you bought for yourself, just because you deserve it. “Gucci Gucci Louis Louis Fendi Fendi Prada/Basic bitches wear that shit so I don’t even bother…” oh sorry, just singing Kreayshawn to myself there. I bought my MacBook Pro because I deserved to have access to the world. Also, it lets me work and thereby earn more money so I can eat. BONUS: I can download episodes of Game Of Thrones onto it, which I don’t think overpriced handbags do yet because there isn’t the technology. What a day that will be though.

13. The belief that you deserve it. Waaaaay ahead of you. I used this on my Dad when I was 7 and deserved a Tamagotchi. The development of my female right to the power of manipulation was shockingly advanced.

14. A skin-care regimen, an exercise routine, and a plan for dealing with those few other facets of life that don’t get better after 30. So I’m budgeting for avocados, Valium and colonics now? You’re not selling this to me. 

15. A solid start on a satisfying career, a satisfying relationship, and all those other facets of life that do get better. I got distracted by the mirror there because I read that sentence and suddenly my hair turned WHITE.

By 30, you should know...

1. How to fall in love without losing yourself. Does it make me a bad person that I might want to not go to karaoke with the girls when I’m not single for just one night? It doesn’t mean I’ve “lost” myself. I still know that Creep by Radiohead is one I can definitely nail (especially when I perform it cross-eyed). It just means… no Thom Yorke impressions tonight.

2. How you feel about having kids. SHIT! I totally forgot that I’m a blob with ovaries. Why doesn’t the clock tick LOUDER? 

3. How to quit a job, break up with a man, and confront a friend without ruining the friendship. So there are hard and fast strategies for these situations cos that makes it so much easier? No wonder all 30 year-old plus women I meet are always doing it right. Every time.

4. When to try harder and when to walk away. I’m walking away now. Does this count?

5. How to kiss in a way that communicates perfectly what you would and wouldn’t like to happen next. I think you wrote “how” instead of “where” there.

6. The names of the secretary of state, your great-grandmothers, and the best tailor in town. … … … Glamour, what does the secretary of state do please? I’m interested.

7. How to live alone, even if you don’t like to. Unlike Carrie Bradshaw, I don’t like to live alone as that involves pitching a tent in a field and living outside during all weather conditions because I will not afford to live on my own at any point before I’m 30 unless I stop being a journalist and start being a person who picks winning lottery numbers and/or becomes rich through LOLs (believe me: working on it).

8. Where to go -- be it your best friend’s kitchen table or a yoga mat -- when your soul needs soothing. It changes according to where’s doing 2-for-1 Cosmopolitan cocktails in Soho that particular night (another thing learned on Sex And The City) so I couldn’t possibly say. *JOKING* 

9. That you can’t change the length of your legs, the width of your hips, or the nature of your parents. But I can change all the other more important stuff with plastic surgery, right? KATIE, HARVEY AND PRINCESS! DO I GET A BONUS POINT?

10. That your childhood may not have been perfect, but it’s over. Your mum’s over. I can be a grown-up and a child. Have you never listened to Kate Bush’s The Man With The Child In His Eyes, you deprived Nazi? 

11. What you would and wouldn’t do for money or love. I have a fairly good idea about this already. Would: murder The Saturdays, be seen out in public with Michael Fassbender, go to Mahiki. Wouldn’t: do The Voice, get a Hollywood, listen to Kasabian’s latest. This is the type of thing, yeah?

12. That nobody gets away with smoking, drinking, doing drugs, or not flossing for very long. Please tell me who turned 30 and lost their teeth, got lung cancer and liver disease and woke up with a stinker after raving in a field at 4am to The KLF all at the same time? Because I see the Daily Mail Femail sidebar every day and am damned if this story ran and I missed it.

13. Who you can trust, who you can’t, and why you shouldn’t take it personally. This is why 30 year-old Britney is dead behind the eyes now, isn’t it?

14. Not to apologise for something that isn’t your fault. I stopped reading after the first three words and suddenly felt like 30 can’t come soon enough.

15. Why they say life begins at 30. Having got here (I could’ve watched The Notebook in this time and got a look at Ryan Gosling looking cuter than pictures of puppies), I realise that life actually ends at 30. So thanks for that.

Thing is Glamour, you are going to cry when you see how much I don’t have and don’t know by the time I’m 30 that fits in with this. But I never asked you to tell me what to do for the next four and a half years in the first place. I would request that you kindly take your set of screwdrivers and do yourself some damage in the gym with them. I know that you won’t take it personally, you’ll just walk away and realise that you’re old and need to hurry back home to floss your teeth or send an email to your great grandmother who has an email account, or fix it with ridiculously expensive plastic surgery because YOU DESERVE IT. And that’s fine. 

As Drake says You Only Live Once and you should do that in whichever way you please. But don’t tell me this is about “every woman”, because it’s all about you. And I’d invite you to get completely off your face at my fun-packed 30th birthday party where we’re all going to act like 12-year-olds but with amazing taste in music and dance all night with our ugly umbrellas… but sounds like you’d rather be “being 30” and eating mung beans on a yoga mat. Shame.

Eve Barlow (@eve_barlow)