On turning 30, between myth and reality
I’ve been having a lot of feelings lately. I don’t know if it’s what we are collectively going through as a society with this global pandemic, or the fact that I’m painfully overworked, or away from friends and family, or probably all of the above. Combine that with hitting a massive milestone like turning thirty, and you get the picture.
Let’s back it up a second. Ever since I was a kid, I had big dreams, a vivid imagination, and a lot of energy. I would not give up until I achieved the outcome I wanted. And I had a lot of alone time to kill, so that didn’t hurt. Imagine my shock when I woke up last Thursday and realized “Oh, wait, this isn’t exactly what I pictured all those years ago.”
Our society has a pernicious way of setting unachievable standards for what we’re supposed to look like, what we’re supposed to be doing with our lives and the goals we’re supposed to strive for. And me being an overachiever, I set the highest standards of all… In my head, by the time I would hit thirty, I would have a super high-powered career, either in a global corporation, or running my own empire, I would be married, have the big house and fancy closet, maybe even a kid (my 15-year old self – goth attire and heavy eye make-up to match – would cringe just reading these words).
Now, hold on a minute. When I say this, I don’t mean that this is the definition of success, but for a long time, it was my definition of what being thirty and successful would have looked like. Career, family, comfort, and – dare I say it – money. The funny thing is, the more I look at it, the more I realize, if I had achieved all that by now and embodied my younger-self vision of ‘success’, I would not be the person that I am today. And I really like the person I am today.
I’ve navigated a lot of ups, and even more downs, I’ve stumbled, I’ve fallen, I’ve made mistakes (MANY mistakes), I’ve gotten lost, I’ve almost given up, but I learned SO MUCH along the way, it’s not even funny. Failure is only failure is you define it as that.
Being thirty to me is being wise enough to know the difference between failure and growth. All my so-called ‘failures’ have been my biggest life lessons. It took me a very long time to learn this distinction, and I mean, really know it in my bones. We all theoretically know that mistakes are supposed to teach you, but the concept sometimes remains philosophical at best. Most of us just see it as a bunch of shit bringing us down, and yeah, yeah, at some point, it’ll show us the way.
Today, I can say for certain, the amount of lessons I’ve learned are a quintessential part of who I am, and there is no way on earth I would be this version of me if you were to remove even one tiny piece of that life puzzle. Now, with 30 years’ worth of puzzle pieces under my belt, I feel more ready to embark on this journey we call life than I ever was before.
I still want all those things I wanted as a child, but they look SO different now.
- Professional success doesn’t mean the constant grind and hustle, the sleepless nights and the tight deadlines, only to show everyone (and myself) that I’m a boss.
- Comfort (and money) is not a cushy bank account, a closet full of designer clothes, or owning a big fancy house.
- And family. Oh, family has been the biggest lesson of all. I always saw myself as a loner, with no attachment to my home or my origins. A free spirit, roaming around the globe, without a care in the world. I never thought I would ‘settle down’ or want a family of my own. Needless to say, I could not have been more wrong, and the past few years have taught me (in the most literal ways of all) that this could not be further from the truth, and I’ve realized that family and home are – and have secretly always been – my one and only wish.
I now know in my bones, not being where I thought I would be is the best thing that could have happened to me, and I am so excited for what’s coming.