By PAMELA REDMOND SATRAN
In May of 1997, I wrote this list. I had passed my thirtieth birthday and wanted to tell younger women about the things I really wished I’d had and known by that important milestone. I guess people agreed with what I had to say, because a few years later the list showed up in my e-mail inbox; a friend had forwarded it to me for my reading pleasure, completely unaware that I was the author. After that, every month or two someone would send it to me and I’d immediately hit “reply all” and type, “Hey, that was me! I wrote that for Glamour.” (After a while, I don’t think anyone believed me.) The list became a phenomenon; posted on hundreds of websites, it was attributed to everyone from Jesse Jackson to Maya Angelou to Hillary Clinton. Someone even published it as an anonymously written book. As I read over these lines now, so many of them still seem worth having and knowing—whether you’re 30 or 22 or 75. Being a little older and a little wiser, I’ve plugged in a few new “shoulds.” By all means, add some of your own.
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.
2. A decent piece of furniture not previously owned by anyone else in your family.
3. Something perfect to wear if the employer or man of your dreams wants to see you in an hour.
4. A purse, a suitcase and an umbrella you’re not ashamed to be seen carrying.
5. A youth you’re content to move beyond.
6. A past juicy enough that you’re looking forward to retelling it in your old age.
7. The realization that you are actually going to have an old age—and some money set aside to help fund it.
8. An e-mail address, a voice mailbox and a bank account—all of which nobody has access to but you.
9. A résumé that is not even the slightest bit padded.
10. One friend who always makes you laugh and one who lets you cry.
11. A set of screwdrivers, a cordless drill and a black lace bra.
12. Something ridiculously expensive that you bought for yourself, just because you deserve it.
13. The belief that you deserve it.
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.
15. A solid start on a satisfying career, a satisfying relationship and all those other facets of life that do get better.
By 30, you should know:
1. How to fall in love without losing yourself.
2. How you feel about having kids.
3. How to quit a job, break up with a partner and confront a friend without ruining the friendship.
4. When to try harder and when to walk away.
5. How to kiss in a way that communicates perfectly what you would and wouldn’t like to happen next.
6. The names of: the secretary of state, your great-grandmother and the best tailor in town.
7. How to live alone, even if you don’t like to.
8. How to take control of your own birthday.
9. That you can’t change the length of your calves, the width of your hips or the nature of your parents.
10. That your childhood may not have been perfect, but it’s over.
11. What you would and wouldn’t do for money or love.
12. That nobody gets away with smoking, drinking, doing drugs or not flossing for very long.
13. Who you can trust, who you can’t and why you shouldn’t take it personally.
14. Not to apologize for something that isn’t your fault.
15. Why they say life begins at 30.