Right now, I’m on the precipice of turning thirty. My toes are dangling out over the edge and I’m peering into unfamiliar territory. Pretty soon, life will shove me over whether or not I’m ready. 30. That’s a big deal.
Or at least seems like it should be. I’ve had my fair share of reactions but where they’re coming from still seems somewhat foreign to me. They don’t quite fit and feel a bit more like reactions that a society obsessed with youth tells me I should be having. Really for me, at this moment, it simply seems odd that I’ll have to put a different word in front of my age- to say “thirty” instead of “twenty.” It just feels wrong and weird rolling off my tongue, like when you say something out loud and only in that moment do you realize it’s true. “Twenty” is what I’ve been saying for a decade- that’s a long time to get used to and familiar with something. And my twenties are something with which I’m intimately familiar. Truthfully, I have to say, I’m not all that sad to see them go.
Let me be clear- I loved my twenties. Loved them. I was looking at pictures earlier and feeling a mountain of gratitude for the memories, experiences, and life lessons they brought. I entered my twenties confused and stumbling, not knowing what to expect and jumping into things without giving them much thought. I made my way through them in the dark- grasping for life, adventure, and understanding- tripping, falling, and flying along the way. And I came out on the other side to where I am now, somewhere after lost but a long way before wisdom. The beautiful in-betweeness of not young and not old.
When I look back over my twenties, I can recall so many people telling me to “do it now while you’re young,” as if youth is really the only time in your life that you get to ‘grab life by the balls’ and ‘seize the day.’ But I don’t like that notion. Just like I don’t like all those lists about “things you should do in your twenties” or “things you should stop/start doing in your thirties” because they’re made as one-size-fits-all, and this isn’t a one-size-fits-all life. I did quite a few things in my twenties, but there is no way in hell I’m stopping now. I’m just starting to learn the real beauty of life, and it’s time to “settle down” so that I can be a “grown up” now? Please. I plan on heading into and out of my thirties with more zest and love for adventure. And I’m sure there will be more stumbling, more fumbling, more learning the ropes and sometimes getting burned. But I refuse to stop just because society tells me that youth is the time to do it all.
Each day, each year, each decade will no doubt look a little different. And each of those experiences is likely to teach me something if I’m really lucky. But I can guarantee this- no one but me will dictate at what age I can and can’t do something. No amount of pressure can convince me that it’s wrong to backpack around Europe after the age of 25 or unreasonable to maybe want to try to have a baby after the age of 35. I can be sexy at 20, 36, and 52. And I can also be smart, successful, and fulfilled even if I don’t subscribe to life that society has mapped out for me.
One of the greatest lessons I learned in my twenties is that I need to live my own life, in my own time, the way it fits me. Nothing else brings that kind of joy- to be yourself and celebrate it in your own unique way. If I’m really lucky, this is still only the beginning of a long and wonderful life. Not everyone on this adventure with me has been so fortunate. Instead of trudging toward getting older, head down, begrudgingly going forward through time, I want to live each day with gratitude, excitement, and wonderment that I get to live.
Hello, thirty. It’s nice to meet you. Now let’s have some fun.