I woke up at 9:30 this morning to the sound of my phone buzzing every time someone posted a birthday greeting on my Facebook timeline. That's been my favorite part of my birthday for the past few years. It feels good to have so many people acknowledge you, especially if they're people who you haven't spoken to in a while. So far, that's been the most eventful thing that's happened today, even though today is a milestone for me. My 20s ended last night and today (5/29) I begin my 30s. Twenty-nine was such a negligible age. My mind kept assuming that I was 30 even on the day that I turned 29, so I've been thirty for about two years now. I think pretty much every blogger and writer does the "turning 30" post; some are refreshingly honest about the angst that many have about 30, some are cloying in their attempt to be reassuring, and some are like that tough love pep talk that you get sometimes that helps but kind of doesn't
. I've been thinking about what my version would say for the past few months now, and I still haven't whittled down my thoughts into one neat package for consumption yet. Maybe that's symbolic of what turning 30 is really like. For what ever reason, 30 is the age that has been deemed over time as the age of completion. This is what I thought as a ten-year-old with three ponytails on my head. Thirty would be the magical age when I would suddenly be turned in to Oprah or Janet Jackson or Judy Blume ( you know you read Forever, and you know you loved it...don't trip).
Thirty is a magical number for some that signals their "arrival" as a full-bodied adult: kids have been born, love has been found, and the dream wedding has happened, the career ladder has been climbed and the two-story bungalow with a picket fence has been moved into. For others, 30 is a number of despair since none of the things that should be "in place" by now are.
In order to avoid this despair, some of us made lists, probably between the ages of 21 to 25, of everything we wanted to accomplish by the time we turned 30. I had one. It was as follows:
To Be Completed By 30
1. Get married
2. Have 2.5 kids
3. Become national bestselling author
4. Win Nobel Prize in Literature and Pulitzer Prize
5. Buy dream house
I have yet to accomplish any of these things, but the ironic thing is that I don't think I would have been able to do these things in my 20s anyway. All of these things require lots of knowledge of self, wisdom that comes with experience, and the confidence to trust in that knowledge and experience. It took the duration of my whole 20s to get to the place where I could start to develop both of these things.
Now that I am officially in my 30s, I feel like a fog has been lifted from my face and my real life has begun. What I learned as I sometimes stumbled through my 20s is that these types of artificial deadlines that we impose on ourselves cause lots of undue anxiety. Lists of things that should be done by a certain age help us to plan our lives and stay on track, but they should be regarded as tentative. As long as you are continually moving towards your goals and your priorities are stacked up right, the age when you complete those goals should be irrelevant. Goals should grow and change along with you. Don't cheat yourself out of happiness because it didn't come by 30.