Do you ever feel yourself slipping away? Like, the reality you swore your fists were tightly cemented to the day before were somehow doused in oil while you slept? Is it just me??
I know, I know. It's a dark thought, but I am convinced these hushed thoughts only come to us solely to be brought into the light.
This blog is my light. Typing these words bring me shiny glimmers of hope.
So, bear with me for a moment, will you?
I am turning 30 years old in 5 seemingly short days. All that I currently know about the age of 30 is how ridiculously old I thought it was growing up. In my innocent mind, my mom was always in her 30s. It represented an age of motherhood and responsibility and importance. I was convinced that you knew exactly who you were and where you were going once this age rolled around.
Here I am, staring this number directly in the face, and I can't say I am completely confident in any of those things. Who am I? That is a constant evolution. Where am I going? Lord knows. Responsibility? Pshht. Please. Importance? I'm still working on it.
Today, I woke up later than I probably should. I drank half of a forgotten beer in the back of the fridge on a day, and an hour, that is socially unacceptable in most circles. I sat in my messy room with my messy life and wondered: Is THIS 30?
Don't get me wrong—I love my life more often than not. It's a good one. It's a privileged one when compared to many others. Even while sitting in its small pile of wreckage, I still wouldn't trade it. I am willing to fight for my mess any given day of the week. But, still, I stop and question it. Is the pile too high? Is the mess too scattered to clean? And, if I do want to tidy it up, where in the hell do I begin?
Over the past few months, I have casually asked the women I respect most in life how they personally felt about this particular decade. I was hoping to get in on this looming secret before I had to learn it for myself.
My thirties were some of my best years. I was a mother. I was a wife. I finally knew what I wanted from life. I stopped caring so much about what other people thought. I felt more comfortable in my skin. I was young enough to try different things and wise enough to know which experiences weren't for me anymore. Enjoy every minute of it!
Lord in Heaven: Please let this be my 30-year-old experience!
Collectively, that summarizes what all these seasoned and good-hearted women told me. Though it brought me comfort to hear, it also brought on some serious anxiety. After all, these are the women I admire and I admire them for good reason. They are mothers and grandmothers and business owners and providers and caretakers and wholesome slices of our society's decaying pie.
Why wouldn't they have it all figured out by the time their eager feet had walked this earth for 30 years? They are incredible, resilient walks of life.
I should think that my experience should not be much different from their own. I'd like to say that I am doing my best and (hopefully) improving the lives of others just by being a part of theirs.
So, why I am I so damned afraid?
Maybe it's because they had little ones clinging tightly to their sides at this age. They had those little faces looking up to them and waiting for them to decide what the next best thing to do was. They had to help someone else live and grow and choose. I am not a mother myself, but I have a feeling that speeds up the process of being the best, if not a better, version of yourself.
For me, I look down and all I see are younger versions of myself. They are sitting at my feet, gripping my thighs, hanging on my waist, and pulling at my hair. All of them want my attention. They have questions to which I am afraid I do not have the answers.
Remember me? Remember our dreams? Don't you remember those places you promised we would see by this time? Where are those places? Where are those accolades in our name? Shouldn't they be here already? We've been waiting for so long now...
It breaks my heart that I have not accomplished or delivered all of these things to the youthful versions of myself as they patiently await their arrival. It hurts even more that I cannot confidently tell them when—or if—all of these promises will flourish.
Why does getting older have to be so damned hard?
It's much easier being in my twenties. I blame a lot of shit on this decade in life. Stayed up too late? Not getting enough sleep? An unfinished education? No children? Devoured a box of donut holes? No worries—I am in my twenties! It is the time to make mistakes and question yourself and make frivolous life choices.
IT'S ALL GOOD in the twenties hood.
So what in the eff am I supposed to do now that they are threatening to leave? Do I hold on to them for dear life and deny that they ever left? Or do I open the door happily and kiss their dumbass decisions goodbye? And what if I am not ready to do either of those things?
I have seen both scenarios play out in others lives. Those that have clung to the notion that 30 is the new 20 still stay out late and kiss too many boys. They dance on bars and work simple jobs that supplement their lifestyles and encourage me to appreciate every moment of my doomed youth. I watch them and I love them for their indifference to their reputations. They have got the f*ck what everyone else thinks part of 30 locked down.
As much as I respect their unabashed vigor for life, is it for me? Is that who I should be, too?
Then there are the ones who have taken turning 30 very seriously. The same people I ate late night fast food with and took "just because" road trips and called out of work so we could day drink and go shopping are now barely recognizable. They turned 30, quit their jobs, popped out 19 rugrats and picked up knitting as a personal hobby. To them, 30 is the new 80.
As much I respect their unshakable dedication, is it for me? Is that who I should be, too?
Honestly? I don't &%!*$*#@* know. And, after writing about all of this, I think I am OK with the not knowing of it all.
I am going to turn 30 (God willing) whether I like it or not. That is what I do know.
I am also pretty sure that everything is going to be just fine once it happens. Do I wish I had a few more things checked off of my teenaged To-Do list than I currently do? Absolutely. But I am also glad that I have gained enough wisdom to be able to laugh off a few of those things on that list.
I am not going to marry Justin Timberlake. (Sorry, Justin. I am engaged. You took too long. Your loss, obviously.)
I am not going to live in a giant house with all of my BFFs until I am 80. (I love my friends but, let's be real, I need my own bathroom.)
I am not going to have the perfect career and the perfect children and the perfect husband and be a perfect housewife. (I mean, come ON. Doesn't that sound pretty LAME sauce when you read it out loud? I wouldn't have an excuse to drink wine on a Tuesday afternoon. That sounds terrible!)
Looking back on our conversations, maybe the women I asked did not really have it all figured out by the time they were 30 either. I'd like to think they didn't.
I'd also like to think that this is the part that they left out. The part about not knowing and understanding it all but having the confidence to pretend you do. The part about having enough courage to trust that things are going to be O-efffing-K even when they are not. The part where you are less lost than you once were and that is good enough to let go and, finally, allow some genuine and shameless happiness into your life.
I am going to go ahead and believe that all of that is the secret to turning the big 3-0.
With the promise of caring less and allowing myself to live more, I won't see those burning candles as my melting hopes and dreams. I will see them as a way of setting fire to this new beginning. Hopefully, the trail I set ablaze will be a starting point for someone else that is wearing the same fearful 29-year-old shoes. I hope they take them off. I hope they run after me and I hope they end up finding themselves along the way.
It's OK that I am not always OK. I am old enough to know this and young enough to explore it. Even if it means getting a few gray hairs and wrinkles along the way.
You know, my dirty thirty just might be the clean slate I've been waiting for. Honestly, I am looking forward to making one big, beautiful mess of it.
THIS is 30.