Photo: Ashleigh Pinnell
Feeling sad and a bit lonely after getting on Megabus to head home to NYC following what always seems like too short a trip to see my boyfriend in DC, I decided to quit working, swapped my laptop for the lighter Kindle and switched on 30 Things Every Woman Should Have and Should Know by the Time She’s 30 by Pamela Redmond Satran and the editors at Glamour. I meant to only take a short break from work – especially while the wi-fi was being particularly temperamental anyway – but, after many “just one more chapter” promises I found myself halfway through, eating up the advice and nodding at several quotes that resonated with my current state of mind.
The book is based on a list that was originally written by Satran back in the 90s for Glamour and that took on a life of its own soon after being published. The subject was simple yet deep: Her suggestions for what women should know and have by the time they reach the ever-so-daunting age of 30. It is not meant to be a checklist, but instead is a proposed set of values that help contribute to a happy, successful and polished life as a self-sufficient woman. It does not discriminate on whether the woman is married, single or has children. It is for the woman as herself.
Retyped and passed along via e-mail before the phrase “went viral” became popular, the advice landed in the in-boxes of women across the country, including that of the author herself, many times. In celebrating the continued relevance of the list, the author and editors of Glamour came together to publish a book of stories that relate to each item on the list. Written by public figures and household names, the reader is given a personal and relatable view into each author’s life through stories of their own pasts or by their expanding upon the advice at hand. I couldn’t help but beam as I realized that the stories being shared were just what we’re trying to put out on Quarterlette.
Thanks to the Sunday evening traffic I came to the last page before my slow bus reached the Lincoln Tunnel to Manhattan. Honestly, I was tempted to start from the beginning but instead went back to mark some of the advice that struck me the hardest. These were a few I wish I could have sent out to friends on the spot had the Internet been working:
- For Adventure: “If the means to a well-lived life is to take the road less traveled, first you have to get on the road” – Ayana Byrd
- For Love: “One thing I’ve learned in my twenties is that if a relationship has to be kept secret, you shouldn’t be in it” – Taylor Swift
- For Moving Forward: “I now believe in growing old gratefully, not gracefully. I haven’t found the secret to life or love or eternal youth. But I do know now that youth is not the blossom but the bud, and that though one cannot always be young and wild, if you are willing to learn, to grow, to outrun the mileposts of your own wildest dreams, you can always be winsome and lucky, lovely and free.” – ZZ Packer
- For Taking Chances: “If you hold out too long, you just might miss the sunset” – editors of Glamour
- For Reality: “Life is not a fairy tale; it’s a parade of events that help you accrue wisdom and courage and faith. You learn first that you can, and, later that you should.” – Fiona Maazel
- For More Chances: “What would you attempt to do if you knew you couldn’t fail?” Sandra Lee
- For Acceptance: “Every relationship we have in our lives, whether it lasts five hours with a stranger on a plane or fifty years with our soulmate is meant to teach us something.” – Genevieve Field
I generally don’t think of myself as being very in touch with my feelings, but the stories told here brought out the Lifetime loving part of me. Each story goes to the heart of being a woman and latches onto a different part of our psyche . Readers may not take to every story, but everyone will find one that nails their emotions. The authors’ personal tales are truthful and relatable. It’s women helping women – something we set to do with our platform. We’re happy to make this our role model.
Since copyright laws forbid me from republishing the full book on our site, the best I can do is recommend finding it online or at a bookshop, a library or a friend’s bookshelf and losing yourself in it for an afternoon. I would definitely consider it required reading for all twenty-something women.
Non-spoiler alert: For the last chapter the authors solicited folks for the “31st thing” to add to the list. Pamela, if you happen to come upon this, here are some of Quarterlette’s suggestions:
- You should have the balls to do what you feel is best for you even if others disapprove – Emily , 27
- Have at least one friend that is completely different from you, brings out a different side of you and exposes you to things you otherwise wouldn’t know about or experience – Kathryn, 28
- A dessert recipe that is totally your own, a strong relationship with your family (at least some of them), a collection of photographs of family, friends and memories with which to surround yourself! – Kim, 29
- Knowing what you’re worth & what you want in a relationship (how to walk away when it isn’t what you expect). –Me, 27
- How to apologize and mean it, how to make a gourmet meal all by yourself, know who you can go to for trusted advice for work and for advice for love, when it’s true love and when it isn’t – Kim, 29
- How to spend a full Sunday alone (and how to enjoy yourself while doing it) – Rachel, 27
Have another one to add? Tell us in the comments!