Monica Bielanko
That's What She Said
Just A Junk Drawer Dream
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30 Is The New 30 (Looking Forward to Looking Back)

You've heard them. Aging stars like Sharon Stone or Farrah Fawcett spouting off about how 40 is the new 30! or 50 is the new 40! They'll proclaim this bold "feminist" sentiment to Vogue or Glamour or some other such "pro-women" magazine designed to make us feel like shit. Vogue shows us how not in vogue we are. Glamour makes sure we're aware of how very unglamorous all of us sad sack normal gals are compared to their models while simultaneously informing us of the best way to 'please our man'. Page left shows sack-of-bones model in a swimming suit cavorting on the beach while page right features an article on how to dress for your size. Read: Fat girls, for Godsakes, cover up!

Um? Mixed message.

So Sharon "Here's My Crotch" Stone enthuses that 40 is the new 30 (just look at my botoxed head!) under the guise of womanhood and all that fist-pumping jazz. Listen, bitch - you're 40. Ain't nothin' wrong with it and your declarations to the contrary are telling us you're horrified of aging. These age afraid women will use the aged (ha!) statement as an expression of how young they feel, how alive they feel at 40+. All I see is some lady whose age I wouldn't have thought about until she desperately began proclaiming how young she feels in an effort to keep up with the twenty-year-olds. And it's not just Sharon and company. Millions of women the world over are forever lying about their ages, making jokes on their 42nd birthday about how they're 'turning 29 this year'. And we all laugh at the tired routine because it's well understood we're supposed to laugh. But it isn't funny. It's sad.

Own your age, women! Be proud. All this age denial gives into society's shit rules that a woman in her twenties is at her sexiest. Bullshit! There is nothing sexy about a drunk girl dancing on a bar or making out with another woman in a desperate attempt to get attention. Or a drunk girl flashing her tits on Spring Break. Or a drunk girl slurring her way around a party trying to impress by dressing in less. Or a drunk girl getting in silly yet violent fights with boyfriends and girlfriends (all of which I've accomplished to a shockingly stellar degree during my career as a twenty-something. I am the valedictorian of drunk girl drama.) In my twenties I've been immature, insecure, unstable and chaotic - isn't that what your twenties are for? But if that is supposed to be the highlight of my life then I may as well stay drunk forever. What's so sexy about my twenties? Oh, right. My ta-ta's were much perkier. If that's your definition of sexy then you ain't. Sexy, that is.

My twenties are a battlefield littered with the corpses of ex-boyfriends, abandoned jobs, empty Jagermeister bottles, un-used gym memberships, feelings of self-loathing and fights with family. I can't tell you how proud I am to have made it to my thirties relatively unscathed by death, divorce, bankruptcy or spending time behind bars for the stabbing of an ex (although I've come close.. to BANKRUPTCY, not the stabbing!)

30 IS THE NEW 30! That's what I say. I refuse to strategically act or appear younger than my age. To dissolve into a fit of girlish giggling when some scab asks for my ID at the bar. To start lying about my age. I am 30 Goddammit and I've worked hard to get here! Confident, comfortable, calm and clever.. That's what interests me. Not cleavage.

Getting through my twenties took every ounce of strength I have. I can see the finish line to this chapter in my life and I am anxiously counting down the days until I joyously two-step my way into my fourth decade of life. I am excited to be thirty! I feel no qualms about it. I am looking forward to looking back and laughing at the melodramatic incidents I've wasted so much time analyzing and agonizing over. "Oh that." I'll say with a shrug and a mirthful chuckle. "How silly was I? But - you know how your twenties are.."

Throughout my twenties I filled my life and mind with clutter. Anxiety, depression, insecurity... I am ready to take out the trash and start afresh. As a bona fide adult. Because if I ain't an adult at thirty, I don't know when I will be one. Thirty screams adult, right? I wonder if, on the morning of the 27th, the day I turn thirty, I'll wake up feeling all serene and peaceful-like. Maybe I'll even stop picking fights with Serge about his beard shavings in the sink. Instead I'll smile at myself in the mirror, go for a refreshing jog, head over to The Limited for a snazzy new sweater set and khaki slacks, have dinner at four and then I'll fall asleep in an armchair while watching the five o'clock news. Wait. I took that scenario a bit too far, but you know what I mean. I'll be grown-up, right?

Maybe I won't feel grown-up. When do we know we're grown-up? Do we just wake up one day and feel grown? Like, that's it, I'm officially grown! I suppose adulthood is a state of mind and a set of behaviors, not an age. At one end of the spectrum I present the late, great Anna Nicole Smith... at the other end is that precocious Dakota Fanning - she's 12 going on 40, for Chrissakes.

According to my Mom's generation, at thirty I'll officially be inducted into the I'm-Not-To-Be-Trusted set. "Never trust anyone over thirty" the hippies said. Thirty; the cut-off for cool. Anybody over thirty was one of the ubiquitous 'them'. Perhaps those hippies in their twenties who danced The Hustle in polyester bells had it better what with all the drugs and free sex, but I wouldn't go back to any age in my twenties. I was filled with uncertainty, forever trying to figure out where I was headed, clawing to make something of myself. Yet the higher I climbed within the news industry I was perpetually afraid of being found out. Afraid someone, my boss perhaps, would tap me on the shoulder and say, "We're onto you. Pack your desk, faker, you're outta here."
That's not the case anymore. I am well qualified. I know I am. In my twenties I sat back and let others make the decisions so if something went wrong I could pass the blame. Now, I'm up to the task. I'm not afraid to take a stand and defend my position. Not afraid of being found out. Because I know there is nothing to find out. I've earned my position through dedication, long hours and hard work.

I've worked in nearly every aspect of the news industry, from the very bottom of the newsroom food chain to the top. For the past two years in New York City I've edited, written and produced several different newscasts using the most cutting-edge programs in journalism today. It's been journalism boot camp complete with screaming drill sergeants bosses, blood, sweat and tears. Lot's of tears. But I've survived. Barely. And not without a few anxiety attacks and a lot of liquor... but I made it. There isn't a newsroom in this country that I couldn't work in. That makes me proud of myself. And I'm rarely proud of myself.

So, yes - I'm eagerly awaiting my thirties.. Am excited to have babies, become a mother, a better wife, to learn more about myself, my family and friends. I am not the girl I was two years ago and am certainly not the girl I was ten years ago, thank God! That also makes me proud. Because that 20-year-old girl has a long, challenging, heartbreaking road ahead. Now? Now I look forward to looking back.