I remember the countdown to my 21st birthday like it was yesterday. Anxious, running out of patience, and excited to FINALLY be able to join all of my college buddies at the bars instead of being restricted to the house parties full of underclassmen. The day finally arrived, we celebrated hard (I honestly think my friends were even more excited than I was!), and in the blink of an eye the moment passed.
Once the celebrations wore off, it hit me – “OH MY GOD! I AM ALMOST 30!” Cue the anxiety and panic… I had so many goals, plans, and general thoughts about how my life would go and suddenly it felt like I was running out of time! Not only was I now running out of time, but I was suddenly miles behind without any hope of catching up. HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?!
Okay… a bit dramatic? I never denied being over the top! The truth is, from the minute I turned 21, I suddenly found myself in a new countdown aka “the freak-out panic-mode countdown to 30”.
Like clockwork, every upcoming birthday after that, I would grimace and say “UGH! I’m almost 30” and people would ask “Really? How old are you?”… then proceed to laugh directly in my face at my response (“22”, “23”, “24”…etc.). In turn, I would get offended that they were not taking my “early midlife crisis” seriously and try to explain exactly why I was terrified of “the big three-oh”.
It seems silly to me now, but I dreaded turning 30. I always said that my twenties were going to be “my selfish years”, and I would travel and “find myself” and do everything that I wanted to do without feeling guilty. I was committed to not jumping into an engagement or marriage or kids during my twenties (“like everybody else”). To be honest, I was having such a damn good time keeping that promise to myself that as each year ticked off one step closer to that dreaded 30, I became more and more selfish soaking up every second of my twenties that I could.
Then this year, it finally happened. The fateful day arrived, I turned 30, and… it wasn’t so bad!
I was on my first-ever solo trip, to my lifelong dream travel-destination (PARIS!), and for the first time since my dreaded countdown-to-thirty began, I was actually excited to embark on this new journey. I had the time of my life. I was happy. I was confident. I did exactly what I wanted to do exactly when I felt like doing it. It was the ultimate birthday gift to myself, for this milestone birthday, and it could not have gone any better.
Now that one month has passed, and I have settled into this new decade and chapter of my life, I cannot help but to be excited and to look toward the future with eager anticipation. So many good things happened to me in my twenties, and I just have this intense feeling of hopeful enthusiasm that many more blessings are coming my way.
Maybe I am not exactly in the place at 30 years old that I thought I would be when I was that doe-eyed 20 year-old envisioning my future… But as I sit here and assess my life and my accomplishments, I cannot help but feel proud of myself anyway. I have accomplished some things and have been to some places that my 20 year-old self never even dreamed of doing or imagined going.
To compare myself now to my young 20 year-old self, I honestly do not feel that much different. I am still fun. I am still kind. I am still intelligent. I am still generous. I am still adventurous. I am still compassionate. I am still funny.
In addition, with age comes wisdom, and now I can also add: I have (a tiny little bit…) more patience. I am more understanding. I am not afraid to speak up for myself if I feel that someone is mistreating me.
If anything, the old saying is true… “Like a fine wine, I get better with age“. So if THIS is thirty, pour me another glass!