In less than a month now I will be hitting a bit of a milestone. I will be turning 30. I will have officially expanded my journey into four different decades. I'm not completely sure how I feel about this. It's a mixed bag -- part sadness, part eagerness, and part reluctance. When I first started thinking about the upcoming September 30 (it's my golden birthday this year, by the way) I began to feel anxious. 30?! But what have I done in 30 years? What have I accomplished? Aren't I still just a kid? Shouldn't I have a house, and kids, and a career? In your 20's it's common and perhaps even expected that you haven't done or do not have those things yet. 20's are all about transforming yourself into your adult skin, finding who you are outside of childhood, school, and parents. 30's are . . . well, aren't they . . . well, aren't you supposed to be who you are meant to be by then -- settled, stable, done with figuring things out? At least that's what it feels like. Maybe that's because when I was 10 I thought that a 30 year old was someone who had it all together. They were an adult. And well, now that I'm almost there, I realize just how very silly that was. Now that I'm almost there, I realize that I still feel like that 10 year old in many ways. I guess I'm trying to figure out whether or not that is a bad thing.
Turning 30 has made me think that those childhood and shifting-into-an-adult years are officially over -- that it somehow distances me from those parts of myself that I still feel and hold onto so strongly. This thought has given me moments of mild anxiety in the past year. I know, it's stupid. A number doesn't actually mean anything. Just another boring statistic to give to your doctor or the cranky, unapproachable woman at the DMV. But are other people going to look at me differently when I'm 30? Are they going to expect more from me beCAUSE I'm 30? Does being 30 give me an automatic to-do list that must be fulfilled ASAP? I sure hope not, because I'm afraid that I'm going to fail miserably. Well, at least it wouldn't be the first thing I've failed miserably at.
Most women my age, at least around here, already have at least one kid by now. Don't get me wrong, I've chosen to not have kids yet, my husband being in full agreement. Neither of us have been ready. I've heard some women say that they want to be done giving birth by the time they are 30. My response has always been, "I'm not ready to start giving birth until I'm 30."
Even though it's my choice, and really, I don't regret it, I am starting to now feel that pressure that is spoken of. I have started to worry about being "old" parents or our children missing out on time with their grandparents. The latter is the one thing that makes me begin to want to start sooner rather than later. But I know that I can't use that as our sole reason to conceive sooner than what we are ready for. It would be a mistake to do it for any other reason than that we are both ready for the drastic life-change, knowing that the joys will outweigh the hardships. Until then, I think it's going to be just us.
A lot of people my age also have a house by now. We're still in an apartment, and we love it here. It's roomy enough for the two of us, quite private as apartments go, and in a nice location. But of course we'd both rather have our own home, if we could afford it. I think we both have daydreams now and then as we drive through the "nicer" neighborhoods, drooling over the sprawling homes with lush and spacious lawns. Seems as though you're not a complete adult nor a complete American until you own a home or, more accurately, reside in a home that is owned by a bank.
The final major missing factor in turning 30 is a lack of a career. Oh sure, I know maybe most people don't have an official career by the time they enter their 30's, or even 40's, or even retire before they get one. Most people just have a job, something to pay the bills. But all the years I was growing up, all through college, I always expected myself to have a career, and at least be well on my way to one by the time I was finishing out my 20's. Since I've known what career I wanted (writing) since I was 9 years old, I guess I just assumed that I'd get there. Hmm, newsflash! I'm not. And, in fact, I'm in between regular jobs right now as well, other than doing freelance work. It can tend to make me feel like a complete failure.
The closest I've come to achieving this goal is ghostwriting an e-book within the last year for someone, which was at least a paid-for job. But I can't say that this is an actual career as of yet. Maybe with a second paid-for writing job I'll feel like I've started something tangible. At least within the last couple months I've finally started working on a book of my own, a work of fiction. At least I started this before I turned 30! Hey, I've got to give myself a gold star when I can, no matter how small the accomplishment.
Hmm, well I'm not sure what conclusions I have come to through the course of writing this little blog post . . . perhaps that no, I'm not exactly where I'd like to be at 29 years and 11 months, or where other people think I should be. Perhaps I'm exactly where I'm meant to be. And perhaps it doesn't really matter. I'm turning 30 . . . so what? I didn't feel any different when I turned 16, or 18, or 21. Just another year, and I'm still me. I'm still a 7 year old coupled with a 70 year old, only now it is inside an almost 30 year old body. I still love fart jokes and coloring in my Garfield coloring book when I've had a stressful day. I still love the smell of Play-doh. I still love imagining that I am a Gelfling in "The Dark Crystal."