Turning 30 honestly feels like a birthday that would never come. Not so much in the morbid sense, but in the how-do-I-make-a-dentist-appointment, what-even-is-a-mortgage and do-I-hide-the-alcohol-from-my-parents sense. All these big kid jobs I was so eager to have in my teens are now neatly laid out in front of my in the form of bills to pay, taxes to file and laundry to unload. I can so clearly recall the moments when my biggest worry was if I had enough time to flat iron my hair *moment of silence*. So 30, more or less, feels like adulthood is slapping me in the face. Hard.
Yet, does 30 suddenly make me feel [gasp] old? Day to day, I can’t say it does. But it’s perhaps because I’ve been living in my head for the past thirty years and who I am now still resonates with so much of who I was as a teenager. Except, better. I’m no super version of my old self, but also, maybe I am. Maybe I am smarter, stronger and kinder than I’ve ever been. And maybe if I’m not, I don’t really care. I haven’t figured everything out but I have figured out that I don’t need to. Which, let me tell you, is like a huge breath of air after being underwater for a moment too long.
I will say that I had a *moment* this week when I suddenly felt my age catching up to me. I was setting up my bike in spin class when three college students set up in front of me. I overheard their conversations about a house party they were attending that night and whether or not they were going to wear heels. As all girls know, you don’t wear heels unless you’ve confirmed that at least ⅔ of your gang is, in fact, also wearing heels. And in that moment I sensed a sour note of nostalgia, a sadness that I would most likely never down cranberry vodkas while dancing awkwardly to 90s throwback jams at a themed party. A tiny piece of me was mourning that phase of life.
I remember growing up and looking up to 30 as the year I became my parents. Except by then they were two kids deep with a family dog and white picket fence. Maybe not the fence, but you get the idea. My 30 is looking a little bit different these days, as I think most young peoples’ are. However, it took me a hell of a long time to realize that my parents’ timeline was just that, their timeline…not mine. And I think that’s why I’m so accepting and, albeit, excited for this new decade. The older I get, the less I care about others’ expectation. More importantly, the less I care about the expectations I naively set for myself ten years prior.
Recently, I attended the first birthday party for one of my dear friend’s sweet baby girl. In the corner of the party she had set up a time capsule for every person at the party to write a note to the little girl for her to read on her 18th birthday. To be honest, the idea of fitting everything I needed this smart, strong and beautiful girl to know on an index card felt impossible. However, it really got me thinking. What would I have liked to know when I was 18? Would it change who I am now? Or at least how I felt about it? So I started writing the little tidbits I’d learned along the way that no one had ever directly told me. Like, friendships are about quality, not quantity. Look at the sky (and not just through a window), everyday. Spend time with people who don’t look like you, learn from them. Move away from home, in some form. Read all the books you can, and when you finish them, give them to someone you think might enjoy them as well. The force of literature is a strong one. Be kind to the people you’re with all the time. It’s easy to be pleasant with the grocery story attendant, it’s harder to be kind to your boyfriend when he forgets to load the dishwasher for the tenth time. Be kind anyways.
The more I began writing my notes for a 12 month old child, the more I realized I needed to collect my own lessons for my own impending birthday. What have I learned? What am I still working on? While turning 30 is a notably big deal, I’m more focused on ensuring that I spend this year becoming more than what I dreamed I’d be. To start, I’ll be spending this birthday abiding by the lessons I’ve learned…namely, dedicating this time to celebrating years prior and growing from what I’ve learned. I’m heading to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park for three days to hike as far as I can to breath in fresh air and recalibrate for a new adventure. I’ll see you on the other side.