Today I turn 30 years old. Which seems so crazy to type out, "Hi my name is Julie and I am 30 years old." I can’t even tell you the amount of times I’ve had friends make a huge deal out of this shift into a new decade. Nine times out of ten, I hear friends commiserating over “30," saying it in nervous/annoyed tones, turning 30 into the doomsday of birthdays. Growing up I can still remember a friend’s older sister who celebrated her 29th birthday four times that year, complete with a coffee cup she drank out of every morning that said "29 and Holding" with a cat hanging on for dear life to the side of a skyscraper (what a great visual). I also have a family friend who to this day won’t recognize the fact that she entered her 30s…in the ’90s.
But why do we have such an aversion to ending our 20s? What about 30 is so scary?
As for me, my 20s were amazing. Wild. Scary. Fun. Driven. Beautiful even. In between all of life’s important moments, the bullet points on the broad timeline of this past decade, there’s been a whole lot of figuring it out – “it” being this crazy little thing called life. Now, at the fairly young age of 3-0 I still (God willing) have a long, long way to go. But, I am fairly certain that as my life goes on, I will look back on my 20s as a time of self-discovery, and if that is indeed the case, then I am hoping that my 30s will be a time to enjoy the “stuff” I'm figuring out.
I think some people are scared of 30 because it feels like the end of youth, that distinct marker between young and old. I’ve talked to a few girlfriends about it, and some have told me that it’s a birthday that makes them feel not only old, but as if they should be doing something. And more often than not, their something doesn’t exactly match up to their fantasy of what a 30-year old should be doing.
It’s hard trying to measure up when you’ve created an imaginary ruler in your mind. And I think it’s easy to get caught up with dreading birthdays rather than celebrating them. But when you really think about it, is there a more joyous occasion than marking the passing of a year, noting all of its lessons, trials and triumphs, and accepting gracefully this gift of another year of life we are given?
As I leave behind my 20s, I’m excited. I'm enjoying turning 30, and here’s why:
Like I said above, I loved this past decade. But so much of it was spent trying to find myself, being honest with myself and with that comes a roller coaster of emotion. During these past 10 years I became an adult. I graduated college, jumped straight into a big career, and learned more about myself than I could have ever imagined. I got married, got divorced, figured out the importance of true communication. I figured out my shortcomings as a partner, and how to be a better one. I made new friends, lost some others. I got remarried, had a baby. Moved roughly 7 times and lived in 4 different cities. I realized that the only constant in this world is change, and sometimes the hardest part of growing up is letting go of relationships I thought would last forever and ideals that weren't real. But the silver lining? Realizing that life is all about meaningful connections, with others and myself.
To me, turning 30 is empowering. I have a better understanding of who I am, a better grip on healthy boundaries, I know what I want out of life and I'm starting to figure out how to get there. It’s not about accomplishments; married or not, divorced or not, children or none, career or still figuring it out – it’s about self-realization and being able to say, “Hey, you- I love you!” to that reflection in the mirror. Accepting myself has been the hardest journey of all, and although I’m not all the way there, I’m a heck of a lot closer than I was at 20.
And the best part? I’m at a point where I fully realize that I am the master of my own destiny. The maker of my day, the determiner of my future. Believe and Become! I’ve grown up and away from blaming others for my mistakes or unhappiness (a divorce has its way of giving you a crash course lesson in this). I’ve learned that I can look to no one else when I fail or succeed. It’s all me. And I now know that it’s futile to try to live up to anyone else's idea of success, image or happiness. I could be the ripest and sweetest peach ever grown from the great state of Georgia, but there will always be someone out there who just doesn't like peaches. Comparing yourself to another is a waste of your time. Saying hurtful things about another/jealousy is a waste of your soul. Negativity breeds negativity. It’s all cause and effect. This is my one life, and I’m sure as hell not going to waste it trying to please everyone. Everyone will always have an opinion, but unlike my 20-something self, my 30 year old self now knows to not take what anyone says about me personally. Someone said this to me in my 20s and I’ll never forget it; what other people say about you is none of your business. Each individual in this wide, wide world has an idea of what living this life is to them, and my choices will always, always go against someone’s, somehow. Like my mom has always says "It takes all kinds to make this world go around."
So, as I look back and think about all of the things I’ve learned, I feel lucky that everything I’m taking away from this decade I get to practice in a new one. My 30s are a time for taking care of and being my healthiest self. It's about being the best wife, mother, daughter, daughter-in-law, dog owner, friend and businesswoman I can be each day. It's about being mindful. It's about being enough. It’s about enjoying the time I have and savoring every single moment with my loved ones. It’s about being kind. It's about empathy. It's about putting others before myself. It’s about looking back at the beautiful naivety of my 20s with humor, acceptance, forgiveness, and realizing that it’s all brought me to this very grateful moment.
And so I welcome in this next decade. Bring out the champs and blow out the candles! I couldn’t be happier to enter this next chapter, a time that I wholeheartedly believe will be the best yet. And I hope you’ll join me. I’m so over feeling like I should dread each impending birthday, especially this one. I want to celebrate everywhere I’ve been and everywhere I’m going. I want to live this one life of mine- really, really live it- and at the end of my journey I want to look back down the road and feel a sense of pride and accomplishment that I truly did.