The husband turned 30 gracefully (men, am I right?) and without complaint.
I, however, spent the last month painstakingly counting down the last days of my 20s, as if on March 31 I would wake up an entirely different person. Last month of my 20s! 10 days left of my 20s! This time next week I’ll be 30! I’m so old. That rigmarole.
Today, I woke up as a 30 year old. The husband hugged me goodbye and called me the Birthday Girl, and then I threw on my Alabama hoodie, washed my face, and yanked on some pants. I let my dogs out. I drank a cup of coffee and watched them play in our front yard of the house we own. I put away some dishes, told the pups goodbye, and I got in my reliable car and drove to work.
As I was driving, I suddenly felt very calm about turning 30.
I’m not sure if it was my morning routine that did it, or that I was chatting with the sister on the phone, or that I had about 20 text messages already wishing me a Happy Birthday…. but I felt the anxiety slowly leak out of me. (For now… let’s be honest… it always comes back.)
30 seems like a big milestone because it is a big milestone. Especially when you’ve lost people along the way, people that never saw 30, or people who you’d love to get advice from about being 30, but they’ve passed on, too.
Whenever my birthday pops up I think of everyone who isn’t here anymore. It makes me uncharacteristically emotional. (My boss brought me cake pops and a Diet Coke this morning and I got choked up over it.) It’s actually only been since DJ died that I’ve done this — every year I get that he didn’t get takes away another tiny piece of my heart. I text his mom and (unfairly) lay my sadness on her and she makes me feel better. “Grief is a bitch!” We agree on this sentiment.
Anyway, I spent this last month thinking about all the people I’ve been leading up to 30 – a rebel (so it seemed to me at the time), a bad-decision-maker, a bitch (still that, though), a selfish friend (sorry everyone that I’m so flaky and unreliable, I still love all of you), a heavy drinker (thanks, Statesboro), a bitter whiner (your family texts me on my birthday but you don’t…cool, dad)… and I wondered if all the good things I try to do now outweigh the bad.
I hope they do. All those people I was (and kind of still am) just mush together to make me…me. When I turned 20, I had zero respect for me. Turning 30… I think I’m pretty kickass.
Turns out I’ve got a real drive to help animals. I’m always open to donate to charities that benefit foster kids. I’m not as conservative as I once thought. I can run a 10K. I can set a goal and follow through. My best friends are my family, and I’m fine with that. I wrote a book (I mean, I’m not saying it’s good, but I did write it). I’d drop everything and do anything for the husband, who has the patience of a saint to deal with an anxious lunatic like me. My nieces and nephews bring my so much joy. (So do my dogs, obviously.) I take pride in my work. I’m more outspoken and steadfast in my opinions.
20-something me… 20-something me would never have been able to list anything positive about myself. 30 year old me is much more confident. Much more self-aware. Much more… happy.
None of this is mind blowing revolutionary writing. I know this.
But I think the point is that no matter what you’re doing, if you’re turning 30 or 50 or 22 or 86, if you’re actively working to be a better person and make the world a better place, I think you’re doing it right. All the ‘Do This Before You Turn ___ Age’ articles or all the posts from your friends about how their way of living is the best way… that’s all nonsense. Don’t let anyone make you feel like your life choices are less than theirs because you settled down, or you bought a house, or you don’t party until 3am anymore.
Just let yourself…. become yourself. And when you hit the next age milestone don’t let yourself down. Be better.
I spent 30 years semi-figuring out who I am, and I plan on spending the next 30 leaving a positive mark on this world using what I’ve got. You only get so many days. Do something meaningful while you can.
As always, I am forever grateful to the people who love me no matter what, and who have stuck with me through my 20s so that I can kill it in my 30s. I love you all.
Happy 30th Birthday to me!