I’ve been told my life won’t change drastically—that it will be “just another day” for me. People say I won’t “feel” older.
“Sure,” I sigh.
Better yet, I’ve been told that I won’t instantly have all the answers to life’s greatest challenges (that I’ve been oddly contemplating this past year), nor will I adopt new wisdom or a more positive outlook.
Plain and simple, I’ll still be me.
And so I ask myself, why am I so worked up about this particular birthday? It is just another day. Yet this year, “my day” doesn’t feel like mine because it’s jumping into a new decade and I have absolutely no control.
I’m noticing a difference here.
Please don’t misinterpret my logic. I do understand that “30” is in fact, just an age. And we are as old as how we act and feel. That age is just a number. I remind myself of this more than you can imagine. However, for some reason, this particular birthday, unlike some of the other milestones, I’m recognizing that there is no reward gained.
Perhaps, this too, could be a reason for my growing concernment.
I recall my excitement in turning sixteen-years-old, as I was finally able to go for my driver’s license; twenty-one, a time I could drink legally; and even twenty-five-years-old, when I knew I was about to get a 20 percent decrease on my car insurance—all rewards in my mind.
And equally, all these birthdays proved to be progressive steps, leading me to where I now stand. So I ask myself again, looking back at all my distance covered, what does turning thirty signify?
I get one word every time. Experience.
“That’s it?” I’ve asked, searching for more answers. More insight.
Sadly, I admit, during long car rides, throughout my workouts, while grocery shopping, or even out with friends, I continue to sound like the same broken-record thinking, “How am I almost thirty?”
Or the alternative, “God, I’m really, really turning thirty.”
Celebrating with friends on their birthdays is fine, of course. I’m the life of the party, initiator of old-age sarcasm, leading voice of song and “parade-er” for cake presentations, adorned with thirty lit candles that could undoubtedly burn down a house if unattended.
But no matter how many instances I seek advice or try looking at this from a different perspective, this new decade brings on many expectations I’ve set for myself and some not yet fulfilled. I acknowledge too, maybe this is the origin for the annoying bug I feel growing louder in the pit of my stomach.
Higher education, savings, marriage, kids, a full-filling job, well balanced social life and hobbies, more savings, feelings of utmost satisfaction and happiness—all qualities of life that I thought I would have all figured out by now.
And yes, I’m now more cautious when it comes to making important life decisions or taking career or money risks and opportunity—so does this signify maturity boiling in?
Or better yet—does my new decade bring on stricter rules and life guidelines to write for myself and live by?
Perhaps, I had all the answers years ago—when I wasn’t even looking for them.
Ha—a slim possibility.
With my milestone birthday right around the corner, the reality of age leaves me flustered and accusatory. What have I been doing all this time? Where is all the money I should have saved by now? Or the house I had planned to buy? Have I been running in circles?
As much as I ask myself these questions, I remind myself of the two things I can’t hold in my hands.
Experience and knowledge.
I have the experience to remember that I’ve stayed up many weeknights at the bar until way past closing time—the knowledge to know that my body can’t take the abuse, having to function the next work day hung over, running on five hours of sleep.
I have the experience of living and playing hard. I have the experience of freedom without a demanding job (for a short time) and the knowledge to accept the fact that a steady paycheck is ideal at this time in my life.
Likewise, I’ve accepted challenges and also failed a few times. I’ve had the opportunity to travel. I have loved. I’ve met interesting people. I’ve also taught myself new things and have adopted new hobbies and interest.
Growing older, I hold the knowledge to imagine the world as perfect as I would like to see it (on certain days) and on the other hand, acknowledge life’s many obstacles and imperfections.
Looking in the mirror, I am still the same person.
Yet now I am smiling.
See, I hold all these aspects—that piece together my journey toward thirty—graciously—and put them back in my heart and mind for safekeeping. I understand that the one thing everyone has been telling me is, so very true, indeed.
My thirty days before “thirty” will be here, before I know it. I should probably start my real countdown then.
In the meantime, I’ll be experiencing my last days as an immature, twenty-nine-year-old, free-spirited, bright-eyed (broke), and happy.