I turn 30 this week. I don’t even know how to register that sentence...age now takes a different form in my mind. Instead of future years being compartments with defined contents, endings and beginnings, they are now fluid. You can do things at 25 that you “should’ve” done at 21. You can be 29 and feel like you’re 18...and simultaneously 40. There’s no limit to the things you can and can’t do at most any age (law permitting, of course).
Last year I was at a formal manager meeting for work where we did an icebreaker, and had to say one important thing we’ve learned up until this point in life. I was the youngest in the room by at least 5 years and was wondering what my contribution would be. I get anxiety having to speak off-the-cuff in groups and while they were moving down the line there were varied answers of “don’t be afraid”, “take chances” and “follow your dreams”; my mind was swimming with thoughts.
"What will they think?"
"Will this make sense?"
"Is this too deep for 9:30am on a Thursday?”
In the end, I overcame the internal struggle and answered, “one of the most important things I’ve learned is that the older I get, the less I know. Life has been a consistent unraveling of everything I ever thought I knew”.
Oof. Did I mention it was 9:30am on a Thursday?
Looking back, to soften the perceived grimness I probably could’ve tied it up with “...life has been a consistent unraveling of everything I ever thought I knew...and creates chances to weave my own patterns.” But as they say, hindsight is 20/20 right?
I got a few surprised looks and a few thoughtful “hmmms” and “ohhhs” and nods. A brief moment where the statement sunk in for reflection...and then they moved to the next person. There was no visible “a-ha!” moment for any of my colleagues, but I felt the satisfied feeling of going with my grain and saying what I needed to say. It was true; the script of life had been rewritten in my mind as I deconstructed certain pillars of success and life progress. Perhaps I'll write on these pillars soon. At my age I did feel like I knew less, but I felt wiser and more confident in what I did know, and more open to the unknown.
That trend of unraveling continues; this year it was my faith. I confronted what I grew up with and how disconnected I felt from it, and I began asking myself the questions that I had either never thought to ask or had been too afraid to answer for myself previously. I have no conclusions, but I have the start to something that feels more solid and “with my grain” than the starter set of my childhood. I anticipate that it will be an ongoing journey, and I am excited to make it my own.
This morning I was talking to the barista at the coffee shop down the street and he said "how does it feel to be turning thirty?", as if bracing himself for my outburst of tears or outrage or subtle desperation at another year gone by. I just replied "I don't know!"...and then, with a smile, "I like getting older". How am I supposed to feel? Would I want to wake up as my 13-yr-old self, a la Jennifer Garner? Probably not. Aside from the physical reminders of hard hangovers, back pain and creaky knees, I don’t know how else I’ll feel the delineation of 30. But one thing I do know is that I do like getting older, because each year I know myself better and become a better friend to myself. And I will always look forward to that.
Thanks for reading, friends :)