This birthday thing that happened last weekend got me thinking a bit.
I have to confess that I mentally eyeroll (just a little bit, I promise) at people when they go one about turning 30 oh noes. A big part of that is that my 30s have been hands down the best decade of my life so far. So very many good things have happened to me over the last 10 years that if I had to pick a decade to relive, it would be this one. Because as I look back, I realize that my 30s have been hands down the best decade of my life so far. So very many good things have happened to me over the last 10 years that if I had to pick a decade to relive, it would be this one.
For most of my 20s, I was still in college, with all these unrealistic dreams about where my life and career was going to go. I let the guys I was dating have too much influence over my life decisions. I won’t say that I made bad choices, because I didn’t really, but I made a lot of choices that embarrass me a little when I look back at them now. I didn’t realize how much growing up I still had to do. On my 30th birthday I had a party with a couple dozen friends, and I thought my life was stable and that it would be this way for the next forty years.
But then things began to change. I’d made more friends at work, people with no connection to my husband. I was the sole income-earner and I think it did a lot for my self-confidence. I started making some real significant contributions at work, started spending time with a different group of people who introduced me to a lot of things I hadn’t tried before and never thought I would. I started looking at my life with a more critical eye, noticing that there were a lot of things that weren’t going the way I wanted them to, and finally realized that I really did have the power to change things… if I could just find the courage to risk it.
In my thirties, I realized that my marriage wasn’t beneficial to me, and found the strength to ask for a divorce.
In my thirties, I dove into the world of puzzles that I enjoy so much, and from which I’ve made so many friends.
In my thirties, I re-evaluated the conviction I’d had that I would never had kids, and realized it hadn’t been my own but my ex-husband’s conviction. And that maybe, just maybe, I felt different now that I was off on my own.
In my thirties, I lived on my own for the first time since the college dorms. I became a solo homeowner. I weathered some ups and downs at my job, and when that job became toxic, I somehow found it in me to walk away from that as well.
In my thirties, I found that I really could stand up for what I believed even when it wasn’t popular; that I could say what I was really feeling without worrying that my friends would laugh at me for it; that saying “Why not?” instead of “Why?” could lead to some fantastic experiences.
So when I see people talking with some trepidation about turning 30, or sounding like it’s the beginning of the end, I just… I don’t quite get it anymore. I expect I was probably the same way when I was 29, and now I laugh at myself a little bit for it. I had no idea of anything that was about to happen, or about how my 30s would be more about opening windows than closing doors. Lots and lots of windows.
And you know what? I’m sure my friends who’ve already passed that 40th birthday milestone see me eyeing it warily, and they probably do a little mental eyeroll as well. Because I have no idea what the next ten years are going to hold, and for all I know they’re going to leave my 30s in the dust.
You’re not over the hill until you’ve been buried on one. And it’s all uphill from here.