I keep telling my students (who don’t believe I’m nearly 30; in fact, one of them told me the other day that if she didn’t know you had to be older to be a teacher, she would have assumed I was 19 – lucky me) that when they see me crying on a school day in October, they’ll know it’s my birthday.
Milestone birthdays bring with them this bloated weight of panic. Who will I be by the time I hit my “milestone birthday”? How much longer will it be before where I ‘should be’ and where I am are exactly the same thing? What will it feel like to hit a milestone birthday?
I can remember turning ten and my mom making this big deal about me being a ‘decade old’. It made me feel so grown up, like I was almost there. When you’re a kid, all you want to do is grow up. When you’re grown, all you want to do is be younger again. We always, always want as a species, to have whatever we don’t have. Age is finicky and it never feels complete. That’s something valuable that I guess I’ve learned this past decade.
I think my biggest growth in my life was between 24 and now. When I was 24 I made a decision to change my body, and in turn, my life. I made the decision to walk away from the guy who broke my heart, a pre-fuckboy fuckboy who had one fit in and one foot out and craved the attention that I craved giving him. I made decisions to do what I wanted and be a different person because I was given that option due to the willpower and prowess that I suddenly obtained after years of unhealthy habits, a self-pitying attitude and a crippling shyness that prevented me from having the life I wanted to have.
In my twenties, I learned that female friendships that bring out the absolute worst in you are so far from worth keeping that the only way I could move forward was abandon all memories, ties and feuds, and other things too, and both start over and look back at the real people who’d always been there for me simultaneously. It left a bitter taste, but the most crucial decisions sometimes have to be that way.
In my late twenties I met the love of my life, a man that is at the same time perfect for me, an exact opposite of me in many ways. And yet, there is something inherently common and important that we share. I can barely put my finger on exactly what it is but it comes up sometimes and reminds me of just how much I love this person and just how valuable and important he is in my life.
In my twenties I decided to have an incredibly challenging career and sometimes I regret that but sometimes I am so, so grateful for it. Every day is a struggle but not always in a bad way.
All in all, where I feel sometimes that I ‘should’ be is married with a house and a permanent job and some sort of concrete stability in my life; and what I have is nervousness about floating between jobs, concern about where I’ll land next year, and an apartment that costs a third of my income (although it’s beautiful so that’s a comfort). I still have help paying bills and I still want to spend money on trips and clothes instead of savings and investments. So am I where I ‘should’ be? No. I’m not at all. I’m selfish, irresponsible and adolescent in many ways.
I’m glad my twenties happened. I’m so glad they happened because they helped steer me into the somewhat-adult that I ended up being right now. There are so many things that I would do differently, and yet there are equally so many things that happened exactly as they should. In the mixed up world of my life, I have found a belonging place and I have found the starting point of what’s right.
I’m going to be okay. 30 will be okay.