My 30th birthday is a few days away, and, according to prevailing traditions, I should be making a fuss over it. Milestone birthdays like these call for parties and cocktails and reminiscing and, at the end of it all, realizing that you just can’t drink like you used to.

But instead, I’m taking a look back at the last 10 years and my winding career path. Am I where I expected to be at 30? Not exactly. I thought I would be in academia, and instead I’m in marketing. I thought I would work in an office with lots of plants and free snacks and pencil skirts, and instead I work from home in yoga pants and drink from bottomless pots of coffee.

Nevertheless, I learned a lot about the professional world in my 20s. More often than not, though, I learned these lessons the hard way, and now I want to grab each young woman I meet by the sock bun and scream, “Don’t make the same mistakes I made!”

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