In her new book Thirty-Life Crisis: Navigating My Thirties, One Drunk Baby Shower at a Time (out today), Los Angeles native, actress, and influencer Lisa Schwartz shares trials about the thirsty thirties, when ambition battles ambivalence, and our choices become challenges we can no longer put off. The sassy scribe offers comedic commiseration for 20- and 30-somethings about relationships, work and adulting, musing on the frustrations but also the fun. With a foreword by YouTube sensation (and her former boyfriend) Shane Dawson, the book is a modern hybrid of self-help and millennial memoir that will definitely appeal to Schwartz’s 2.2 million You Tube subscribers. Beyond that? You be the judge. Here she shares an excerpt from her intro about the formative power of watching Seinfeld growing up.
You know, if you take everything I’ve accomplished in my entire life and condense it down into one day, it looks decent.
Entering your thirties SUCKS. OK, that was dramatic. Not EVERYTHING about it sucks. You’re finally in charge of your own life and can do all the things your parents told you not to do, like have popcorn and wine for dinner, or stay up for hours watching shitty reality TV shows while ordering useless products on Amazon Prime. (I was desperate to try an LED rainbow showerhead precisely because my parents refused to buy me one when I was younger. As it turns out, they were right for saying no. It was a complete waste of money, and now I shower underneath a dull, red flashing light.)
As entertaining as these snack-induced comas, Bachelor binges, and tipsy online purchases can be, hitting your thirties is far tougher than any guilty pleasure or useless purchase can mend. The minute you turn thirty, everything starts to change. The bills on your desk get higher, your metabolism gets slower, and your friends get married and have babies. Now, don’t get me wrong—I love my friends. I want the best for them, including a wed- ding with an open bar and little humans I can give back when they start to cry. However, these sudden surges of change sent my brain into a marathon of questioning. If they are settling down and having kids, am I supposed to? Do I want to? If I do, do I have to do it now? I was just about to finally start Game of Thrones!
This thought cycle usually leads to a period of binge drinking and sleeping with random dudes as a “fuck you” to living life the “right way,” followed by a sob session with a therapist who I’m certain counts the minutes till we’re done, topped off by a plate of fries with a side of “I should try to be like everybody else. Right?” Shit, I’m exhausted and we’ve only just begun. Welcome to your thirties.
There are plenty of books out there to help see you through your “quarter-life crisis”—see Chicken Soup for Your 25‑Year‑Old Soul Who Is Still Living Off Top Ramen and Trying to Figure Out Which Minimum‑Wage Job to Stick Out, aka The Holy Bible for Student Loan Victims and Soon‑to‑Be Struggling Artists—but no one warns you about the thirty‑ life crisis, when the microwaved noodles and cater waiter jobs of your twenties start to feel like a quaint walk in the park and when the proverbial umbilical cord to a noncommittal life of partying and dreaming gets cut off by wed- ding invites and 401(k)s. Sadly, the dream boards made with the assistance of that epic joint are thrown into the trashcan as your friends succumb to the once proclaimed enemy, “the man.” Not to mention the “where are we going to eat” conversations turn into “where is this going” in the blink of an eye. In just one decade, inquiring about your relationship status shifts from being perceived as clingy and even crazy because you have “so much time” ahead of you to being the norm and even a societal expectation because you’re “running out of time,” you old hag. Holy hell, where is the book for that?
Don’t freak out—I promise it gets better. If you’ve ever experienced the feeling of your age wearing you down, or have felt like you were on a different path than the people around you, I got your back. It took me thirty-five years to accept the fact that I can’t do life like everyone else, even if it would be easier for me to just climb the corporate lad- der, settle down, and pop out a kid or two. Every other moron is capable of doing it; why can’t I? The answer: Seinfeld.
Seriously. Every Thursday night, my family and I turned our dining room chairs toward the TV and watched Seinfeld intently. It didn’t occur to me until just now that I was far more influenced by this show than I ever realized. Think about it. The four main characters were single, independent misfits in their thirties. They lived alone, overthought everything, and made love look tedious. Seinfeld laid my life out before me—I just didn’t know it yet.
One time someone told me I reminded them of George Costanza. At first, I was totally insulted. I look way better posing in my underwear on a couch. But then I realized they were right. I’m a tiny neurotic Jew with a knack for doing things the wrong way, and I have been known on several occasions to dig a dessert out of the trashcan.
Of course, a TV show can’t be the only explanation for an aversion to the norm. Personally, I like to blame my parents. (That’s what they’re there for, right?) The reality is mine are actually delightful humans. But they are just that—human. Without knowing it, their innate fears and overt neuroses rubbed off on me at a very young age. For example, thanks to them, I will NEVER check my bags at the airport curb, I will ALWAYS have an “out” for every social event, and I will NEVER be fully comfort- able in large crowds. I’m a real good time. On top of all that, my parents’ divorce inadvertently hindered my shot at ever trusting in true love. Because I saw firsthand that a beautiful couple, with a good family, steady incomes, and great senses of humor, were capable of falling out of love, I was left incapable of believing in eternal love. At least my skepticism justifies my three-dates-and-quit rule.
I know I sound like a millennial (if only I still looked like one), complaining and blaming everyone else. I am. But I also take full responsibility for my relentless desire to over-analyze life, all for the sake of figuring out what the fuck we are expected to be doing here. The impetus of my thirty-life crisis.
Through my various awkward experiences, which I’m probably going to regret sharing, I hope that I can give comfort to those going through this less-documented rite of passage. The neurotic ones trying to take the unconventional path while still questioning themselves along the way. The ones who have had to parent a parent, unprepared, as they lay sobbing in your arms. The ones who have finally accepted they need help because leaving the house has become increasingly more difficult. The ones who relate to being called crazy on a first date, or who have had to explain to a grandparent, time and again, why they’re still single. The ones who talk to their pets, dance to the music playing in their heads, and can’t wait to get home to rip off their Spanx. And especially to the ones who are exhausted by the tears and are desperate for the giggles. In the end, the only way to deal with the toughest shit life throws at you is to laugh.
Even though my thirties have been one hell of an emotional roller coaster, at least I can share with you what I’ve learned so far and chalk my many failures up to research. You’re welcome. Also, thank you. My breakdowns now have a purpose.
Excerpted from THIRTY-LIFE CRISIS: Surviving my 30s, One Drunk Baby Shower at a Time by Lisa Schwartz. Copyright © 2019 by the author and reprinted with permission from Grand Central Publishing. All rights reserved.
Lisa Schwartz will sign the book tonight at Barnes & Noble (at the Grove), 189 The Grove Dr. Tues., Aug. 27, 7 p.m. More info here.