It happened. I turned 30. Woe is me. Just kidding--but this milestone has been accompanied by certain clichés: hangovers are more severe, working out is becoming necessary, and I've somehow started to feel like it's really
No more dilly-dallying.
Which is why I've really been enjoying TV Land's
The protagonist, Liza, is a 40-year-old mom and divorcée who, after 15 years out of the workforce, pretends she's 26 to get a job in publishing. In getting a second chance at her twenties, Liza reawakens the youthful spirit that laid dormant throughout her marriage. Produced by the guy who brought us
Sex and the City
plays out in the typical New York sitcom manner, with plots introduced and satisfyingly resolved in 20 minutes. But there's a narrative through-line that keeps me coming back, besides the
anticipation. It's the idea that self-exploration shouldn't have to end when your twenties do.
In other words: "nevertheless, she persisted."
The show is lighthearted and goofy, but it gets certain things right about millennials and this zeitgeist. For one, it affirms that the ubiquity of social media is both exhilarating and daunting, and that what goes on behind the 'gram isn't always so picturesque. What I love about the show is how effortlessly it empathizes in two generations (X and Y) the struggles that we as women face in excelling in our careers and love lives. The challenges differ according to age but are universal: how do I get taken seriously? How do I figure out what I want?
At 30, I'm smack-dab in the middle of these two generations. For example, the geographic and emotional shifts I made in my twenties are now mostly quelled, but my career is just taking off, not yet fully embedded. Like Liza, I find myself wondering whether everything will work out (though my fears have less to do with fraud than climate change). More personally, though, I find myself still comparing my choices to my peers' and the lives they've constructed for themselves. Whether it's the patriarchy, the millennial highlight reel on social media, or my ever-questioning brain, I don't know, but sometimes the self-imposed pressure of
mixes with self-doubt and I wonder if I'm just following a formula for success instead of designing one for myself.
Thanks to this character on
, though, and her 26-year-old coworker (played fabulously by a millennial whose pop culture appearances I grew up with, Hillary Duff), I'm feeling like time is elastic. Funnily enough, in season two there's an episode featuring a character who is a thinly-veiled
When I was in Copenhagen at age 25, trying to figure my life out, I devoured her book, which reminded me to live a life of intention and to eschew the notion that your twenties are a throwaway decade. To see this theme pop up on the show felt circular, like I'm doubling down on that intentionality while also asking some new (but similar) questions. It's funny to remember the same concerns I had then take a new form now, like: what does a (queer) partnership mean for me? How do I make a stable life while holding onto adventure?
The Defining Decade
may not be able to answer these for me, but they're providing a helpful lens nevertheless.