This week I'm celebrating a birthday, my 30th birthday in fact. I long ago discarded the idea that I should be at a certain pinnacle or milestone by a particular age; I remember vividly watching the Olympics, and seeing teenager after teenager accomplishing ‘what they had worked their entire lives’ for, and a little voice in my head reasoned ‘screw it’. But starting a new decade has brought a sense of introspection as I consider the years before, those to come, and particularly, myself. A lot of great stuff happened during my 20s. I lived with my two best friends for a year, graduated college, moved away from home, got engaged, moved back towards home, got married, visited 5 countries, moved out of the country, moved to the middle of nowhere, started writing, and most recently, put pink highlights in my hair.
But then there’s a lot that hasn’t changed, my family is still as awesome as ever, I have the same best friends, I’m still ridiculously in love with the same boy, I still email my sister random things I found on the internet, and I still have more shoes than most people I know. These are things that are not likely to change with birthdays. And in many ways, neither am I. I’ll be the 30 year old rocking plaid together with polka dots because they make me happy. I'll be the 30 year old who gets excited about stickers and never misses a chance to dance in the rain. I’ll be the 30 year old who thinks making the bed is a waste of time and photo booths are the best thing since sliced bread. None of that changes when the calendar ticks over. So I’m good with 30.
I’ve never had hang ups about the number of candles on a cake. Maybe it’s because I have great role models, women who age with gusto and grace; maybe it’s because each year seems better than the one before; maybe it’s my natural optimism. Whatever the case, while 30 is just a number, it’s also a step into a new decade; a new period, one that I’m terribly excited about. As the anniversary of my birth draws closer and closer I’ve been thinking more and more about the woman I want to be. For the most part she looks pretty much identical to the gal in the mirror, but there’s little things I’d like to get better at, more habits I want to develop to really become the best version of myself. And I’m excited for that. I’m excited to push myself, to learn more, to keep growing while I keep laughing.
A few years ago one of my friends told me about something she had seen on the internet---a blogger made a list of 30 things she wanted to do before she turned 30. It seemed like a lovely idea, so I started making a list. Now, days away from the deadline, most of the items remain undone. I never learned how to tie a bow tie or brushed up on my Italian. I didn’t visit a national park or bake a pie from scratch. I haven’t read Shakespeare and I haven’t learned all the dance moves to my favorite Blues Brothers song. But that’s ok, because there’s a lot of things that I’ve done in the last couple of years that weren’t on that list- things like writing this column and finding a job I love. And the most important thing, regardless of what’s written on any list, I’m headed into a new decade happier than I’ve ever been. So maybe next year I’ll bake a pie.
Thirty is, of course, not old, but then I don’t know of a number that is, unless you choose it to be. My grandmother is 90 years ‘old’, but she’s got quite of bit of youthful spirit. For me, age is a number, and a blessing. Not everyone has the opportunity to age, so I’ll always be thankful for another candle on my metaphorical cake. Who knows, if I’m lucky enough to get to 90, maybe I’ll celebrate the same way as 30, with silly hats, silly straws, cupcakes and champagne, and the most important---with people I love.
Cheers to 30.