“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end” (that’s right, I’m quoting the song “Closing Time” by Semisonic, deal with it)
Today, I am 30 years old.
For many people, the prospect of turning 30 is a bit terrifying because it feels like the end of youth – you’re getting SO OLD. Your 20s are supposed to be a time for exploring, adventuring, and finding yourself, but by 30 you are expected to settle down and finally be a “real adult”.
When you turn 20, it’s such an exciting time in your life and there is so much possibility! Maybe you are in college, or traveling, in your first relationship, or working and saving up money for some big adventure – your whole life is ahead of you! By the time you get to 30, however, you’re not a kid anymore and there is a sense that you should have your shit figured out.
As for me, I could not be more thrilled to be turning 30 years old. My 20s have been an amazing time – in fact my whole first 30 years of life have been a time of exploration, learning, challenges and pain, working hard to figure out who I am, what my direction is, and who I want to be in this life. Difficult at times, but also full of so much joy and excitement! I can use turning 30 as an excuse to let go of the things that have been weighing me down and start a new chapter in my life.
It’s not that I feel like I have it all figured out now, very far from it, but I do feel like I have built a strong foundation for myself and have made a lot of decisions that I am very proud of. As I turn 30, I am so excited to make some changes and put into practice everything I have worked so hard to learn and achieve up until now. One chapter is ending and another is beginning and that is a very exciting prospect.
Because along with all of the fun and adventurous things I have done in my life, there has also been pain and sadness and I have carried that around with me for a long time. I have realized lately how much pain I am still holding onto and how it is holding me back from being the happiest, most authentic version of myself. I allow events from my past to continue hurting me and I expect people in my present to hurt me in the same ways. I make things difficult when they don’t have to be and I take it personally when people don’t treat me the way I think they should.
Of course, it is important to respect yourself, to have strong ideas about right and wrong, and to not let people treat you badly. But I’ve been sweating so much of the small stuff lately and I just want to let it go. I forget that not everyone is thinking how their actions will affect me directly, that most people are not intentionally doing things that will hurt me, that people may not even be aware that they did something that made me upset. But I expect people to disappoint me and so they do – I interpret their actions through my own lens, rather than putting myself in their shoes and thinking about why that action made perfect sense to them.
I don’t want to be that person anymore. I don’t want to keep carrying around these heavy weights, this chip on my shoulder, this feeling that I have something to prove and have to show everyone how tough I am and how they need to respect me and treat me right. People are going to act in a way that they think is in their best interest and it usually has nothing to do with you! Instead of being upset by the actions of others, I am working on looking at them through a lens of curiosity, trying to understand where they are coming from and thinking about how interesting it is that we all have such different motives, different histories, different beliefs, and these things all cause us to react to the same situation in very different ways.
So as I look ahead to turning 30, I am really looking forward to using it as a turning point, as an excuse to grow up a bit and let go of the things that have been holding me back, while still retaining my playfulness and a childlike wonder at the world. I still don’t really have a clear direction, I’m not settled down, and I certainly don’t feel like a “real adult”, but every day that I examine my life and my actions and work to become the best version of myself possible, I am a little bit happier and a little more comfortable in my own skin.
The thing to remember is that not everyone gets to grow old. So many people die before they even have the chance to experience a full life, before they can really figure out who they are or what they want to do with their time on Earth. Growing older is truly a privilege and not one that should be taken for granted.
Macklemore recently came out with a song called “Good Old Days” in which he starts off feeling nostalgic about the days when he was younger, wishing he had known then that they would become the “good old days”. But in the last verse of the song, he starts to recognize that maybe we’re always looking back when we should be realizing that the good old days are right here, right now, in our present moment. It is up to us to make the most of them and recognize that what we have each day is amazing and getting older is actually a pretty great thing.
Never thought we’d get old, maybe we’re still young
Maybe you always look back and think it was better than it was
Maybe these are the moments
Maybe I’ve been missin’ what it’s about
Been scared of the future, thinkin’ about the past
While missin’ out on now
We’ve come so far, I guess I’m proud
And I ain’t worried ’bout the wrinkles ’round my smile
I’ve got some scars, I’ve been around
I’ve felt some pain, I’ve seen some things, but I’m here now
Those good old days
So the next time you turn one year older, instead of lamenting the fact that you have one more wrinkle or can’t run up mountains like you used to, celebrate the fact that you have had the privilege of spending yet another year in this crazy world, because it is something that not everyone gets to have.
For me, 30 will be a time of letting go, of becoming lighter, of removing the patterns and beliefs that have been causing me pain and making room for more love and light, for healthy relationships, for patterns and habits that serve me and make life easier and happier rather than heavy and difficult. It is a constant practice, but it gets a little easier each day and I am grateful for all I have learned in the 30 years I have lived so far and the many more years I have ahead of me!
Today I am 30 years old – here’s to another amazing 30 years, and another 30 more after that!