Today is my birthday, Whooo!
Unlike other fun birthdays, this one has a daunting cloak of age wrapped around it… 30. 30 years old. I am 30. I know it could be worse, and I know that it will get worse. That’s why, in fact, the issue is not that I’m 30, it’s that I don’t feel 30.
What does 30 feel like? Should I feel mature? Confident about my own life’s direction and now be ready to take care of another life (husband) or even more lives (children)? What about my career, should I feel confident that it’s now headed in an upward trajectory now that I’ve gotten through my twenties? Should I now feel financially stable to be able to just treat myself to that expensive barre class?
(19 year old me, getting hazed into my college dance group)
Well if those are the things that dictate what 30 should feel like then to put it plainly I am screwed. I don’t need to harp on and on about what disarray my life is in currently, but I just left my job, moved across the country, am living out of boxes and can barely find a spatula let alone cook a meal for another human being. If I categorize my age by my achievements, then frankly at 30 I have nothing. So that’s not what I’m choosing to do.
(21 year old me, with good friends and big ‘ol glass of wine)
Instead, I am thrilled to be turning 30 because of how I feel. To be honest, this birthday is sort of a relief. To finally be able to be considered an adult. To call the shots. To be taken seriously. To not feel pressure to stay out late and party (‘you’re only in your twenties once…!’). To be completely satisfied and even excited by the idea of going to bed at 10pm to wake up early and enjoy the sunrise. To have people at work trust you because now that you’re 30, you know something. To buy myself a nice coffeemaker and get excited about which mug I drink out of that morning. To go on a walk, just because well, walks are nice. Man, I sound old.
(25 year old table-dancing me, how most of my friends remember me)
The reality is that turning 30 finally gives me the confidence I need to be myself and the leverage to speak of experience. When you’re 23 everyone is giving you life and career advice all the time and you may struggle to set your own path. “You need to stay at a job for 2 years”, “good connections are the way to get your next opportunity”, “Study hard and you will get a good job” “Don’t have kids too young” “Don’t have kids too late” – now that I’m 30 I have enough experience in life not to let these silly rules clog up my brain. I can trust my own instincts and learn from my own mistakes instead of learning from someone else’s.
Will there be hard times ahead? Of course. I don’t have everything figured out. I’m sure that should I become a parent in the future it will bring it’s own set of life challenges and learnings. But I think for now, that’s why I’m not ready to have kids. I am going to enjoy these next few years of independent confidence and self-learning, because for the first time I have no ones expectations to live up to but my own.
So what does it feel like to be 30? It feels fresh, invigorating and almost young. I feel ready to take on the world, with one hand on my computer and the other on my coffee cup. I feel like now, I can do anything. Yep, so I guess 30 feels like I’m 20 but without the insecurity. And that’s a great way to feel.
Happy Birthday to Me.