Last year, on my thirty-first birthday, I wrote about how no woman should ever be scared of turning 30. As I near my thirty-second birthday, I thought now would be a great time to mark the milestone by discussing about what it means to be in your 30’s, plural.

Twenty-somethings are probably thinking, “Nice try, old lady,” while forty-somethings might say to themselves, “You haven’t seen nothing yet, kid.” Fair enough. Both eras are vital and useful and fun for various reasons. The twenties are the ideal time to fuck things up, and I’m assuming the forties are the years when you get your shit together.

The thirties, on the other hand, lay nicely in the middle: The time when you don’t have to have it all figured out quite yet, but you have enough figured out to just let go and finally relax; relax into your life, relax into your skin. And I gotta tell you, after the confusing awfulness of my dramatic twenties, it feels really awesome to relax.

Here are some other lessons I’ve learned from my (albeit, early) thirties:

Your friendships become family
With work and marriage and babies, you can kiss your weekly wine nights good bye. Getting together with friends becomes more difficult to organize and less frequent. But what you lack in quantity visits, you gain in quality connection. You have less time for bullshit, so you’ve trimmed the fat and now only spend time with people who light you up and not who tear you down.

You’re also connecting with friends in a deeper, more profound way. You’re no longer supporting each other’s heads over a toilet after a rager, but rather supporting each other through job promotions, childbirth and, yes, even divorces. You’ll probably become an “Aunt” to someone’s kids, too. These are the types of friendships that will not only last for a lifetime but which also become your second family.

You employ a lot more self-care
And I don’t just mean that you’re watching your sugar intake or buying anti-wrinkle cream (but you will do that, too). Employing self-care means wearing sensible shoes because “fuck it” you ain’t got time for stilettoes– you want comfort now, damnit! Self-care also means watching your alcohol intake at the holiday work party. You’ll have one water for every glass of wine to avoid a hangover (PS. hangovers now suck). Or when you’re out dancing (yes, you still dance even if it’s just at weddings) you’ll shamelessly announce that you’re tired and will proceed to go home before midnight because getting eight hours of sleep sounds more like heaven to you  than Bruno Mars ever will. It also means joining a gym or running a marathon (thirty-somethings love their marathons!) and getting regular physicals (like getting your iron checked). It means that you’re taking care of you, and it feels pretty damn wonderful.

Quiet sounds good
Some music will sound louder, and more obnoxious, than ever. You might even catch yourself muttering, “What the fuck is this shit?” as you shuffle through your Songza playlist (I mean, can someone tell me what the hell is Three Seconds of Summer? Anybody?)

You’ll also seek out quiet and solitude to recharge your batteries. Sure, you’ve made it through your quarter-life-crisis pretty much intact, but you’re still interested in discovering new facets of yourself. You’ll join Deepak and Oprah’s meditation series, you’ll read self-help books, you’ll start to journal and do a thirty-day yoga cleanse. You’ll do all of this not because you don’t know who you are but because you know you have more to give, more to learn, more to offer to this world and you now have the confidence, the time and the willingness to do so, or at least, to give a try.

You know how to have the best kind of fun
Silence? Aerosole shoes? I’m sure you’re thinking, “Thirties? What a snoozefest!” But here’s the cool thing about being in your 30s: You still have fun, only now you don’t give a shit who’s watching. If you want to go to Medieval Times, you fucking go. If you want to dress up for a murder mystery theatre show as if you’re one of the characters (and get confused for one of them in the process), you do it. If you want to throw a fancy wine-and-cheese party, you do that, too.

When you’re in your thirties, you no longer have to, nor want to, cater to anyone else’s whims. You’re no longer so self-conscious that you don’t allow yourself to have a good time because your dress is too tight or your ex is going to be at the party. Parties are less, “Who’s going to be there?” and more “Who cares? I’m coming!” Netflix nights in pajamas become something you actually look forward to, and not your Plan B. You’re able to laugh at yourself more, which only makes you laugh more, period. Plus, when you’re in your thirties and bogged down with work and/or partner and/or kids, any excuse to party will do.

You’ll have disappointments, but you won’t, like, die from them
Disappointments are torture in your twenties – not showering or leaving your house for days and endless self-inflicted abuse, like eating a whole tub of Nutella. Learning hard lessons is still difficult in your 30’s, but your rebound reflexes are insanely faster. You kinda become Teflon-like: absorbing the shit for a hot minute before having it slide off your back without leaving a trace. The reason for this is you’ve finally learned you’re not perfect, and that’s okay. You’ve learned that life doesn’t always work out the way you want it to – be it, your job, love, money, home situations – but that it has a way of working out the way it’s supposed to.

You’ve learned to ask more questions. To give people more time and space, or, to simply let them go. You’ve learned to work smarter, not harder, and to always leave room for play. You’ve opened your heart more (and maybe your vagina), but you’ve also built an invisible fence around it, leaving it susceptible to only the most agile and worthy. Most importantly, you’ve learned to love yourself more, and that, my friends, is the best gift of your thirties: that open, fierce, pure love that you save for yourself so you can keep living and learning and loving, and growing. Always growing.