Better With Age

I’m not a birthday person, but I do love getting older. I think it’s awesome when someone declares an entire month their birthday month and really makes sure that everyone is held to that standard (no but really, I think it’s so fun when people get into birthdays!)… it’s just not me. I like to acknowledge them, but just keep it low-key and tight knit.
Like I said though, I really enjoy getting older. I operate under the belief that life gets better with age. At least in my experience, everything gets a bit better and a bit more fun and enjoyable with each passing year. This could also be the fact that I’ve been a thirty year old trapped in a child’s body growing up…. (I was one of those weird adult-kids.) Some years have had bumpier months, but the slope of the curve is certainly a positive one. Even during rougher years (23 for me wasn’t amazing), I always feel like I hit September 1st feeling a whole lot smarter about something. Just like when we were kids, growing can hurt. It may not be our bones and teeth anymore, but personal growth isn’t without its pain… remembering that difficult moments will eventually lead to clarity and understanding helps.
My twenties have really been amazing… and I’m THRILLED to be turning 25 today. There’s something about that age that just seems like a stamp of authenticity for being an adult. The irony being that I think age (i.e. the number) really matters less as you get older; I have friends of all ages and it doesn’t matter if they’re 21 or 31.
24 was the biggest year for me yet. I turned 24 over Labor Day weekend last year. I had a job… I was single… I was spending every spare moment on the internet looking at dogs… and kind of bored. Bored in my book is worse than being sick. I went into my job that Tuesday after the long weekend and put in my two weeks’ notice. It was scary, but the best decision I’ve ever made.

A few notable things that have happened this year:

I don’t hate my body | There is something to be said about being comfortable with your body. In fact, it feels freeing. I remember really feeling self-conscious about my body as young as seven, comparing the width of my legs to my best friend in our gymnastics leotard. Of course, that feeling only grew more intense over the years… through middle school when I was mortified by how lanky I was… through high school when my body began to shift and curve every two weeks it felt like… and through college when my body weight was scrutinized by 18 men every weekend (perks of coxing). At some point last fall, I remember that every time I saw a picture of myself or my reflection in a mirror, I would cringe and “hate” on something new: my hair, my legs, my arms, my stomach, my teeth, my weight, my complexion…

It did not happen overnight, but I committed to thanking my body every chance I got. Switching my thoughts from, “My arms look bad,” to “Thank you arms for having the strength to carry and balance six packages down five blocks.” Changing my behavior towards my body eventually changed my attitude towards it. I don’t define myself as my body, but we’re certainly a team in this game called life. And if we’re on the same team, I think we should definitely play nice.

I’ve worked for myself for 11 months | I really chalk this up as a huge accomplishment. When I quit my job, I had planned on getting another one in January. I thought I would hate working alone and the thought of “blogging” full-time didn’t sit well with me at all. I actually did hate it for a while. It was a challenge to go from working in group environments my entire life (school and then my job) to spending my days alone, two feet away from my bed, at a desk by myself. Boring. However, something amazing happened. While I still don’t really love saying that I blog full-time (too many years of brainwashing to believe what a “real” job looks like I think), I love what I do. I’ve always loved blogging but it was always second or third on my priorities list. Now, I get to do what I love first…. and have a life. This was the biggest realizations for me, and also the biggest reason why I never started looking for jobs again.

When I worked in an office, I would come home at the end of the night and either not want to move from the couch or would have to spend hours working more on my blog to finish something important. Now, when the end of the day rolls around, I’m anxious to get out and do something. I want to have dinners with friends, do things at night, and have fun on the weekends. I have both the time and the energy to do that. I randomly did get a job offer a month ago and declined because I enjoy having a life. (A year ago, I would have JUMPED at the opportunity and burned that candle at both ends with enthusiasm.)

I hit a major financial goal | One of the downfalls of going to a school like Georgetown is you see how some people grow up differently. This is actually more of a strength 99% of the time because it brings incredible diversity to class discussions. However, when you’re 18 and living in a spare bedroom of a house of a friend that is nicer than any house you’ll ever live in for the rest of your life… it kind of gets to you. I am definitely not saying that money is everything, but I do think financial independence, especially for young women, is important. I’m really, really, really proud of myself for graduating school and never asking or needing my parents for dime. The first year out of school was hard as I was essentially working two full-time jobs, my day job and then my blog at night. I set myself on a strict budget and ate a lot of pasta for dinner. Saving was and is important to me and I made sure that I was putting away a portion of my paycheck every week. With my second job (aka blogging) that was easier. (I also know that a lot of my friends do have second jobs in the city, it’s pretty necessary to get off the ground.)

Being fiscally responsible starts by being fiscally aware. Knowing what your income is, how you can supplement that if necessary, and then measuring that against your expenses and saving goals. Just like a company, there’s a couple ways to be more in the clear: make more money, spend less money, or make more & spend less. I use to track income and spending and find that it holds me accountable. It also shows your personal wealth grow over time, which I find to be a great motivating factor. I actually hit, and well surpassed, a goal for myself that I didn’t think I would hit until I was 30 this year. Again, part of that was being able to dedicate my time fully to what I love doing, blogging.

I’m turning into my mom | I’ve said it before, and I’ll say again… I’m turning into my mom more and more every single day. The things I do, the things I say… it’s insane. I will walk by a mirror and SEE Meesh looking back at me. And my actions are absolutely my mom’s. Most recent example: I have a loaner car this week from GM and, naturally, I go to pack some things for when we’re on the road. I put together a bag and the first thing I do is put a roll of paper towels in it. I didn’t even think about how that is SO MY MOM until I was loading it into the car. (My mom always had a basket in the car for trips with a roll of paper towels right on top.) Then I found myself hoarding napkins from Starbucks and drive throughs and putting them in the pockets of the door. I love my mom and couldn’t be happier to have a little fortune-telling glimpse into the woman I’m going to turn into. (I just didn’t think it would be so soon!)

I should note here as well, that I see myself turning into my dad too. I never understood why he was so adamant on turning off the lights and the air conditioner… and now I open that electricity bill every month and get it. Speaking of paper towels, in true Phil fashion, I will compare the cost per sheet for every roll until I figure out the best deal. I’m also seeing myself get emotional like my dad does. One of the classic Phil stories is that he saw sisters saying goodbye at an airport once and he cried watching them as they hugged and hugged. He still tears up to this day thinking about it. Lo and behold, I witnessed parents saying goodbye to their son this weekend as he started his first semester at college… I climbed into the car and just bawled.

I fell in love | I’m not someone I would label as a relationship person. I had a couple of boyfriends in college, but nothing serious. (Mostly because I was more interested in school than hooking up at parties.) And in college, I had rocky connections with a few people, but again… nothing serious. When I moved to New York, I was under my “thirteen year plan.” I didn’t envision myself being in a relationship until I was 35. Because life has a funny way of doing things, I ended up meeting Garrett early last summer when he moved to the city. We were both busy and preoccupied, but I definitely had a crush on him that first night we met. It wasn’t until Labor Day weekend that we finally had the chance to really hang out together…. I pretty much knew then. As luck would have it, I quit my job that following Tuesday and suddenly we had more time to get to know each other. The rest is history… but this was definitely not something I expected to happen at age 24.

I’m a dog person now | Fun fact: I used to be terrified of dogs growing up. Whenever I went over to my best friend’s house, her family would have to put Travis, their golden retriever, outside. Dogs have always been a creature I never understood and I certainly didn’t understand how people could be so in love with them. I dog sat the sweetest lab a couple of summers during college and I bonded with Tucker (Little V’s brother’s dog) during my junior year. Then I was slowly figuring out why dogs were so great from working in a dog-friendly office. I even took a dog in after Hurricane Sandy and loved having him around for that week. Getting Teddy was and wasn’t spontaneous. It wasn’t because I had been searching for months. And was because it happened so fast when I finally found him. I don’t think I was ready at all when I brought him home that first day, but the timing is never really perfect for any of these things.

Having him was hard at the beginning (really hard), but I love that little guy so much now and we’re in an amazing routine together. I love walking around the city with him every morning, he makes me laugh all the time because he’s a little weirdo, and he’s definitely softened me up quite a bit. Never in a million years would I have thought that a) my apartment would be littered with dog toys, b) I would let a puppy sit on my bed, and c) that I would feel so attached to an animal.

I find myself at a crossroads | Right now, something that I’m facing is this stretch and pull between “having it all.” Part of me is ready to forge ahead and make huge career decisions. A couple of those have been in the works for over a year, but when I started to make those choices at 23, they felt way more solid. “Of course this is what I want!!!” I remember thinking. While I don’t not want those things to happen, I find myself also wanting to settle down and nest a little bit. I’ve been saving my money and can move out of the city and buy a house if I want. And I kind of do… but I also kind of want the career. On one hand, 25 seems so young; I know I’ll look back when I’m 30, 45, 60 and laugh at how old I felt turning 25 and how I thought the decisions I was making were so monumental. On the other hand… aren’t those decisions I’m making now shaping who I will be at 30, 45, and 60? For now, I’m just taking it one day at a time. One choice at a time. And seeing where things lead.


PS In case you were wondering about the 25 before 25 list I made last year… I did a few of the things randomly, but mostly discovered that I’m not a good list follower or a good list maker. I still want to and plan on doing the things eventually, but this year brought along a lot of changes I didn’t expect. The biggest takeaway is that I did a whole lot more that wasn’t on the list than what was on it.

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Gidel Dawson

This was brilliant. I will be 24 in January and am starting to feel a lot of these things. I love your perspective and how you are appreciating the way things just happen! (I have super bad anxiety, too, and reading your posts always make me feel so much better!) Have a wonderful birthday and an amazing 26th year!

Sabrina Winslow

OMG, I love your dad!!! What a sweetie that he got so emotional at the airport!! How incredibly awesome that you have not needed (or asked) for any money from your parents! I'm old enough to be your mother (46, in case you were wondering) and let me say, you have your life quite together for a woman of 25!

Sabrina Winslow

Ack, hit 'enter' too soon! I also wanted to say you should be very proud of yourself 🙂 I think it's great you share your struggles along with the good things you accomplish ~ it's not easy to admit being afraid of dogs or fire, yet you admit your fears and that you have grown from them, which could be very helpful to others that have experienced the same challenges!!


Hi Carly! I love your blog! I am a 28 year old woman and have been an avid reader for the longest. One thing that has definitely drawn me in is your dedication and discipline in terms of setting goals, which I am so extremely bad at! I've had dreams of quitting my job, starting an art gallery and being financially independent since I graduated in 2009. How do you do it?! I'm just so scared to fail. Maybe you can talk about this in detail in a future post?


Happy birthday! I totally know what you mean about having a job. While I am lucky that I even found one in my field (architecture) I never imagined it would be more consuming and take more out of me than school. Going out is such a chore now!


Happy Birthday! As someone who turns 30 this year and has worked in construction/real estate, don't be in a rush to buy a house. Your late twenties will most just as fast–if not faster–than your early twenties. Apartment life isn't that great but having the ability to accept opportunities will make up for it!

Preppy AND plus sized?


Happy Birthday! I didn't realize you were a fellow Virgo! A little advice from an old lady, don't move out of the city yet. You are still young and have ( a lot) of time to decide on that.

Style Sprinter

These notes on turning 25 are very honest and sweet. I am glad that you accomplished some of the goals, and that you are ready to accomplish even more. Good luck on your path so success (however You define it, not anyone else). And Happy Birthday, dear Carly!

Audrey Lin

Happy birthday! I still have a long way to go, but I'm only 18 (turned 18 two days ago!!) so I still have time 🙂 and so do you! I have no doubt that you're going to continue being amazing, being an inspiration, and being successful! I actually made a little A to Z summer bucket list and gave myself until my birthday to see how far I've gotten. There's still so much to do haha -Audrey | Brunch at Audrey's

Hav Greene

Happy birthday Carly! I have been reading TCP for over a year and this was my absolute favorite post you've done yet! I even bookmarked it on the app! Have a wonderful day!!


Happy birthday and birthday month! Great month for a birthday and a great year to turn 25. 😉 Hope it's a fabulous one.

Sascha und Karin

Happy Birthday, Carly! I really wish you all the happiness and that you can smile every day. I am such a fan of your blog and enjoy every post of you! I am looking forward for the next year with you. Cheers!

Mana Smith

I'm 27 an while a few things aren't where I thought they'd be, my blog mostly, I feel like I'm getting it together. I've looked forward to turning thirty do much since I was younger for a reason that I don't know why that I have to stop myself and say but look what your doing now at 27 and why did 26 have to offer? It's hard to be patient especially when I don't know what I'm anticipating. I also really love my birthday! It's my favorite day of the year and even though I always keep it simple I start planning 3 months in advance.
And most importantly Hapoy Birthday, I loved what you did with 24 and when you announced you were working for yourself I've been rooting for you every step of the way. I can't wait to see what you do with 25.
Fashion and Happy Things

Tara Louise

I turned 25 last year and completely agree with everything you wrote… especially about loving your body! it's weird how you hit a point in your life when it doesn't really seem to matter as much what size you wear and you just kind of learn to appreciate yourself 🙂

Wife with a Life

I know you're the sweetest person, so please know I'm saying this constructively.

"I had a couple of boyfriends in college, but nothing serious. (Mostly because I was more interested in school than hooking up at parties.) "

To someone who was in a serious relationship in college and extremely dedicated to schoolwork as well, this thought came off differently than I think (hope) you meant it! 🙂


Happy birthday! Congrats on such an amazing year and I'm sure the ones to come will be even bigger and better. I can totally relate to you which is one reason why I love reading your blog so much. Hearing your progress makes me so happy. I hope that I can be a fabulous and successful as you are when I am 25. Thanks for sharing. 🙂


Cville to DC

I am in love with this post! I always say I am turning into my mother. And I can agree with the financial awareness and I think this stems from maturity. I will be 24 in March so I feel many of these same things!