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Lisa and her daughter, Francesca Serritella, have teamed up to bring their hilarious and witty perspective on the everyday life as mother and daughter in their weekly essays which you can find in their latest collection, out now, Does This Beach Make Me Look Fat? With stories that will have you laughing out loud one minute and tearing up the next, Lisa and Francesca connect with readers on a deeply emotional level because of the honesty they bring to their stories and by the time you turn the last page you will feel like you just found two new best girlfriends. Earlier collections include Have a Nice Guilt Trip, Meet Me at Emotional Baggage Claim, Why My Third Husband Will Be a Dog, My Nest Isn't Empty, It Just Has More Closet Space, and Best Friends, Occasional Enemies.

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Chick Wit: Becoming Thirty
By Francesca Serritella | February 7, 2016

You're reading this on my thirtieth birthday.

Thirty is a "milestone" birthday, but it's a confusing one, because it looks so different for different people. I have friends who are newly engaged and friends who are recently divorced, friends with kids heading to pre-school and friends just entering grad school. We all made very different choices in the last decade.

I was talking about this to my best friend, a woman I've known since we were ten, and she made a good point: for most of our childhoods and our young adult lives, we hit every milestone in stride with our peers. We all learned to parallel-park, badly, around sixteen. We took turns holding each other's hair back at twenty-one. We threw our caps in the air the year after.

The sameness was reassuring. No one had to go out on a limb to grow up. It just happened to us, together.

But after college, the choose-your-own-adventure stage of life begins.

People talk about your twenties like they're a wash, a lost decade of struggle and irresponsible fun, a time capsule for future nostalgia and regret and little else.

I did not find this to be true.

My twenties were a decade of decisions. After years of tracked steps to choreographed achievements, I emerged from college stunned by the terror and wonder of choice.

And it did start as terror. I was initially drawn to people and pathways that would make my decisions for me; a part of me wanted to be funneled into my future. Every choice seemed like an opportunity to make a mistake.

But then I just started making them, both choices and mistakes. You can't hide from decision-making forever. That life demands action is its saving grace.

So I decided where I wanted to live, what city, and what apartment. Then where I wanted to move when I couldn't live in that first place another month.

I decided what I wanted to do to make money, choosing which dream to make a professional reality and which to keep just for myself. Then I had to decide how to manage that money, what needs and treats to spend it on, and what new dreams to save up for.

I decided which friends were best for sharing drinks with and which were worthy of sharing secrets. I decided which friends would become family.

I decided which men to give my number and which ones to give my heart.

I can't say I decided whom to fall in love with, that part remains uncontrollable and magic.

But I did decide what to do after I fell in love, how to treat the men I loved so that they felt it in their bones, and how to treat them when the love wasn't enough to keep us together.

And with years of practice, I got comfortable with the business of making choices. I learned to value my own judgment as much if not more than someone else's. Of course it's important to be open to outside perspectives, but I don't think that's most young women's problem. We learn early how to view ourselves and our choices through other people's eyes.

In my twenties, I unlearned how to please everyone. I made peace with disagreement. I didn't always know for sure that I was right, but I decided to trust myself anyway.

So it was far from some careless period—I took all of these decisions seriously. Even when I made them badly, it wasn't for lack of trying. And when I got it really right or really wrong, I took note, all the while improving my personal algorithm for happiness, compassion, and success. I was building my own life's parameters for the first time.

My twenties were filled with the heavy work of deciding the person I want to be.

My thirties will be for becoming her.

This is not to say the choices are over. I still have plenty big ones, maybe the biggest, left to make. But I have a decade of trial and error behind me to help me decide. Now this new, wide-open decade doesn't feel so scary, it feels exciting. I know who I am, I know where I'm going, I'm ready.

So when I blow out my candles for thirty tonight, I won't be making wishes.

I'll be making plans.

© Francesca Serritella 2016

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