• Jaclyn Koss

Thirty, (Not So) Flirty, and Thriving


I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting recently. Not only do I turn 30 today, but I just signed a lease to move out of NYC—where I have been living for the past five years—and into the suburbs of New Jersey. I move in November.


A lot of big developments are happening for me right now, but thinking back, my 20s have been filled with changes. On this day ten years ago, I was a junior in college. My main goal in life was to be an actress with the stage name “Jacki DiCarlo”—in fact, I was about to star in a short film that holds a special place in my heart. I was also starting to explore writing (particularly screenwriting) and content development. I wanted to move back to LA after I graduated and didn’t think I would ever leave again. I was starting to learn and appreciate diversity and its (sometimes uncomfortable) truths. Unfortunately, I still had some unaddressed implicit biases and was parroting the beliefs of my family and friends whose opinions I valued, rather than having my own. I was still relaxing my hair and dyeing it red, and I was living that wild college life. And when anyone asked what my Hogwarts house was, because we are millennials so of course it would come up, I would have confidently answered “Slytherin”. [cue Elie’s dry laugh.]


Over the past 10 years, I discovered more about who I am and what I wanted out of life. I did move back to LA and work in the entertainment industry. It wasn’t what I hoped it would be, so I pivoted to publishing and moved to New York. I also slowly (very slowly, after a few existential crises and a breakdown or two. Or three.) made the decision to stop pursuing acting and instead searched for other creative outlets outside of my career. I fully accepted my Hufflepuff nature, leaned into my nerd-self, and fell in love with cosplay and content creation. I learned to appreciate high-quality cocktails and started to teach myself (and learn from both Elie and my dad) how to create my own. I left “Jacki DiCarlo” behind and instead became “Jaclyn Koss”, and later “Stranaverse”.


I didn’t get to travel as much as I wanted, but I did go to Italy with my family and London with my friends. I researched my family history and found some interesting genealogical facts, as well as a suspicious lack of information about one side of my family that is pretty telling 🤌. I learned what kinds of relationships I want and deserve in my life. I gained, lost, reconnected with, and fell out of touch with friends. My stomach started to hate me—seriously, what kind of Italian can’t eat onions, garlic, and dairy—but I learned to deal and have tried so many new kinds of food, like uni and ankimo, haggis, Ethiopian food, various Eastern European and West/Central Asian cuisines, and so much more. I learned to embrace my curls and stopped relaxing my hair. Two of our family dogs passed away (RIP Molly and Cody), and our third is starting to slow down due to heart failure, but my brother got a dog that my dad loves more than anyone else in the family.


But most importantly to me, I became more confident. While I do still struggle with my appearance at times, have a hard time making decisions, and occasionally question the direction my life is going, I am more comfortable with who I am. I’ve been single for a while, but I think that not having that obligation to another person allowed me the time to explore who I am and what I want out of life—I learned to become a strong independent woman who don’t need no man to prove my worth. I am more comfortable in my sexuality, I started exploring my spirituality, I am unapologetic when it comes to sharing my interests, and I am more vocal when it comes to my own thoughts and beliefs even if they differ from those of the people I care about the most.


I learned a lot in my 20s. I can’t wait to see what my 30s will bring—I know my next chapter will start off great with New York Comic Con this weekend!


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