Erinn Cox 30s essay30s for a woman are often considered the “lost decade,” or so I’m told.

We are past the indulgences and impulsive decisions of our 20s but not quite to the sophisticated, seasoned woman of our 40s. While I concur that my behavior has matured, and I know I make better decisions, I hardly think my 30s are a “lost” period of my life. Instead, I’ve taken the six years I’m into this decade to get my house in order.

There is something to be said for not having to worry about your finances on a daily basis and actually having a cushion in the bank should your job fall through the proverbial glass ceiling. Or, for that matter, being able to finally purchase art you love and begin to build a collection worth a pretty penny. There is something to be said for owning real estate and thereby increasing your net worth by a quarter of a million dollars (something I never imagined I’d say). There is something to be said for wiping the books clean. I couldn’t wait to get home and call my mother the day I found out my credit score is nearly perfect, a long way from the excessive debt I accumulated (and enjoyed, mind you) from my early 20s living in New York City.  It’s a welcome breath to have cleared away debt that plagued me for over 10 years and finally be in the black. There is something to be said for getting the job you want, not just keeping the job you need. I’m undervalued, underappreciated and underpaid; being in my mid-30s has shown me I’m worth what I give. I deserve more from the place I spend nearly 2,000 hours a year – I didn’t feel this way 10 years ago, even five years ago.

While I realize that the accomplishments noted above aren’t groundbreaking or even uncommon (I know a lot of fantastic ladies!), I’m proud of them. And more importantly, proud to note I’ve done it all on my own. No spouse, no benefactor, no inheritance, not even a few dollars from a lotto scratcher – just me. Maybe the 30s are a decade of losing after all: losing what you’ve allowed to hold you back from really becoming the woman you are. My greatest satisfaction is saying this out loud: I’m 36 and I’ve finally got my shit together.