Moving on from 20

One of my closest friends recently had to put up with my bemoaning that I’m about to turn 31.

“THIRTY ONE,” I tell her. “That’s like…in my thirties now.”

She tells me it’s no big deal. Then says “30 is the new 20, right?” and I say something to the effect of “Yes, let’s go with that.”

And then one night we were all stretched out by her fireplace. Her husband had just poured each of us a small glass of his best Irish whiskey and we were knee deep in stories. They had a friend in from out of town and after my friend said again “30 is the new 20″ when I began to grumble about my upcoming birthday, this out of town friend piped in.

“Oh no way,” he says, his whiskey spins slightly in his glass as he emphatically demands this. “No way. 30 is 30. 30 is awesome. I don’t want to be 20 again. Who wants to be 20 again?”

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetI keep thinking about this. Because you know what? I, for sure don’t want to be 20 again. I had no idea who I was at 20. Well, I had an idea. But then I changed my mind again. And again. And again and again and again. I wore pride and arrogance without any real knowledge all the time.

30 is awesome.

I finally know that I don’t know a lot. I will willingly and freely admit when I know nothing about something. I’m not trying to prove myself to the “great big world” anymore. I have finally come to terms with the fact that I am a bleeding heart. I cry at sappy commercials. I get fiery angry when I feel an injustice has been done. I wear my heart on my sleeve and love big and hurt big and feel big and I’m finally ok with this. 

I love a good Irish whiskey. I like slow-cooked meals. When my friends and I hang out, we’re not talking about people as much as we’re talking about ideas and plans. I have friends who have PhDs and I’m not completely intimidated by them. I know I’m a creative mess. I like it. I’m probably not ever going to become a rockstar, and I’m ok with that. And not only am I ok with that, but I’m actually relieved. Now I can just love music because I love music. I don’t feel embarrassed reading Harry Potter. And I’ll still awkwardly rock out to pop tunes. If I look like an idiot, I don’t really mind.

I’m starting to care less about all those awkward photos. As a friend said recently about a less-than-flattering photo of herself, “Hey. That’s what I look like sometimes. Oh well.”

Being a mom is the most incredible experience of my life. I have this mini-person under my care and I think she’s amazing. I wouldn’t trade her in for being 20 if my life was on the line. Not for anything.

I also realize that age really is just a number. You don’t really get this in your 20s so much. Everyone older says that and you think they’re just saying that to make themselves feel better, until you hit 30. Then you realize you feel exactly the same as you did last week. And two years ago. Suddenly my parents don’t look as old. They’re not just my parents; they’re books I want to know and read. Their stories of raising us suddenly have a place in my mind. When my dad says, “at your age” it feel less like a parental finger-wagging and more like a window into understanding the world in a clearer way.

I don’t care what the fashion magazines say. I’m gonna wear whatever I want.
I think celebrity culture is weird. It’s just weird.
I’m undecided about things still. I don’t feel a need to position myself all the time. I’m ok with being undecided because I still really love learning. It’s a fun place to be.
People finally get that marriage and sex and babies, while incredible things, are not the point of life.
I know how to do my makeup! I know how to do my hair! I know where to shop! I know how to find a bargain! I have a good auto shop on speed dial. I have the grocery store mapped out in my brain for maximum productivity. I know what to order at the bar.

When I fall flat on my face (literally, as in…off of a stage), I laugh. Because I’m tired of taking it all so seriously. I have friends who I’m not competing with. And there’s no weird “accountability” or unnecessary arguments… we just love each other. We fight for each other and push against each other but at the end of the day, realize that friendship is better when we’re in it for each other.

I’ve managed to be a moderately successful entrepreneur for almost four years now. At 20, I was clueless and unwilling to learn things. Now I know that I’m a student of life.

At 20, I still wore t-shirts from when I was 15. I didn’t know how to pluck my eyebrows. I didn’t understand why earrings were a thing. My hair was curly and that was the end of the conversation. I didn’t know how to disagree. I didn’t know how to express my own opinion about things that don’t really matter. I didn’t know how to admit that I liked pop music AND indie music. I thought I had to have different versions of myself for different friends.

I tried hard and failed a lot. Which is not unlike who I am today. But at least now, when I try hard and fail, I’m not devastated by it. I have found that in the Gospel and in the grace of Jesus I am found, not judged. I’ve found that when I confess and share and break open my heart at 30, I’m made new again. That’s better than being 20 again.

So 30 is not the new 20. I hope it’s not. I don’t want to go back to that girl. 30 is the new 30. So here’s hoping 31 is the new 31, because I think I’m ready. Just let me get in my leggings first.


  1. Andrea – Thanks. For saying it out in a way that is insightful & encouraging; comfortable & refreshing. Here at almost-32 I’ve been saying this type of thing to myself & those ’round about for the past few years “When you’re honest, 30s is prime of life – I’m just getting started on my prime.” And sometimes it’s said weakly sometimes with adamant passion, but always with a smile. Taking myself seriously, but not too seriously. :)
    You unpack my sentiments that much more with the contrast of who we were & the constant of Jesus’ grace to us, always present tense.
    I agree, what a relief.
    ps. glasses up to the hope that we’ll be saying this stuff when we’re 40. Why not? :)

  2. I also had to come to peace with 30…you’re not the only one who feels that way. But as I always say, “Aging is for people who don’t know any better”.


  1. […] “Moving On From 20″ via Andrea Levendusky – I sat in one of Andrea’s sessions on writing at a conference this year and just liked everything about her. So I started stalking her website, obviously. And I love this article because, well, thirty is awesome. […]

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