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  • Mattie Jo Cowsert

30, Flirty, and Still Farting Too Much

I’m turning 30 today. I knew my writing project for this week would be about turning 30 (and trying to come up with a catchy 13 Going on 30 reference for the title. How'd I do?). I know it’s an arbitrary age, but I still have a lot to say about it. It is a new decade after all.


I was avoiding sitting down to write because sitting down to write is still hard, especially when I have no idea where to start because I have too many thoughts about a topic and fear I’ll throw pages of writing away. So I was doing the very predictable Mattie Jo avoidance exercise -- journaling my current boy stress and calling it “reflection” -- when I drew this power thought card:


I am at peace with my age. Each age has its own special joys and experience. I am always the perfect age for where I am in Life.


Holy wuck. Okay, Universe. I’ll stop journaling about a boy and write about turning 30. #growingup


Moving to New York City at 22 was the most ignorant and bravest thing I’ve ever done. I remember my early NY days, people always asking how long I’d been in the City. “Three months...a year...two years.” I’d respond. “Oh you’re a baby!” They’d say.. “I wonder how long I have to live here before people stop calling me a baby?”🤔🤔


I didn’t feel like a baby. Everyday in New York City that I wasn’t getting callbacks for Broadway shows felt like a day closer to ultimate failure and a neck tuck. What was more frustrating is I sought advice from Broadway actors and New York veterans. They all seemed to agree about one thing -- that I was doing “all the right things.”


HOW AM I DOING ALL THE RIGHT THINGS?? I DON'T HAVE A TONY OR A HUSBAND AND I BASICALLY TURNED 47 YESTERDAY!” The inner monologue of my early twenties.


23 year old me called my brother to tell him what a failure I felt like. He’d understand. He’s the OG artsy/brooding Cowsert kid. “I am running out of time, Brother. Everyone keeps saying I’m ‘doing all the right things.’ How can that be true? I’m almost 30 and can’t even get a callback to a cruise ship.”


“Oh my God, Mattie.” he laughed and said in his I am your big brother and you’re being ridiculous voice. “You JUST got to New York. You are not running out of time. You have all the time in the world. Trust what those people are telling you is true. And remember, no one feels older than a white girl in her early twenties.”


No one feels older than a white girl in her early twenties.


I am now the old age I was scared to be, no husband, or a Tony. And I know big brother was right. I felt so much older then than I do now. Now I feel like shit is just getting good. And I am sincerely not worried about my imminent neck tuck.


You wanna know why? Because I spent my twenties exactly the way I was supposed to spend my twenties -- learning the lessons I needed to learn to become a kickass human.


Because I became an adult completely on my own, no college sweetheart turned husband or family support around, I had to face my own shit pretty early on if I wanted to make the life of my dreams happen. I didn’t know at the time that I had years of emotional, physical, spiritual, and sexual stories to undo and reinvent for myself. But as I tuned into truly how lost and unhappy I was, I started to make moves.


I hired a personal trainer. I worked through my disordered thinking around my body and my worth. I trial and error-ed the shit out of a diet that would never leave me feeling deprived and slowly built a habit of daily exercise. I learned to channel all my anger towards the patriarchy into building muscle so I could fuck someone up if need be.


I thought I was going to spend my twenties pursuing my dream of being on Broadway. Instead, I used this decade as the perfect playground to slowly and sloppily step into an abundantly authentic adulthood.


I bought all the self-help books. I made a vision board. I said the mantras. I learned that my words have the power to change my life. I took inventory over the parts of me that held me back, and worked to get out of my own way.


I got therapy. I healed (and continue to heal) my sexual trauma from growing up in Purity Culture and being date raped in my twenties. And then I wrote about it on the internet. Lolz.


I went on dates. I went on SO. MANY. DATES. I journaled a fuckload, started to take responsibility for why my romantic life was such a mess, and made adjustments.


I went to so many auditions. I hired teachers to help me get callbacks. And then, countless auditions and almost quitting being an actor, I eventually convinced a company to give me my Equity card.


I hired a career coach to help me pave a path that felt the most authentic to my Mattie Jo purpose, instead of just pursuing musical theatre because that’s what I thought I had to do.


But also I…


Had a lot of bad sex.

Sent a lot of unnecessary texts.

Made my way through many-a-work shifts incredibly hungover.

Flew first class with celebrity kids who stressed me the fuck out so I drank probably too many glasses of free wine to deal with my stress.

Let myself trust too quickly.

Cried over boys who do not matter.

Cried over boys who do matter.

Was paralyzed by fear of going to Hell.

Didn’t know how to speak up for myself.

Learned how to speak up for myself, and still didn’t.


Turns out, the New York veterans were right. I was doing all the right things. I didn’t have it all figured out back then, and that was very frustrating. But I committed to figuring it out, which turned out to be very liberating.


I thought I was going to spend my twenties pursuing my dream of being on Broadway. Instead, I used this decade as the perfect playground to slowly and sloppily step into an abundantly authentic adulthood.


Because I am now a wise old sage who has the experience to tell you all the things you shouldn’t do in your twenties, I say -- do all the things you shouldn’t do in your twenties. Do the things you’re afraid of and do them with abandon. Then journal about it and learn from it, so you’re not still doing them in your 30s because that’s embarrassing.


The life I have now isn’t the most amazing or impressive because I’m a movie star, have Broadway credits, or have convinced some super Jesus-loving man with a bad haircut he thinks is hip to marry me. No. The life I have now is amazing and impressive because it’s mine.

I dismantled and rebuilt a brand new woman. Serious metaphorical manual labor happened over here. You can tell too. Have you seen my biceps?


So cheers to 30 years, MJ! You made it through the decade with healthily processed trauma, celebrity friends, and 6 pack abs. Oh and did you see my latest on-camera husband? If the movies think I could marry THIS, I have totally made it.




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