|credit: Jennifer Churchill|
It’s time to wrap up my Month of Me posts (a little late, delayed because I needed a few extra weeks to really process it all). I have spoken with a lot of women over the last few weeks about turning thirty; time and again, the same thing was told to me: “Your thirties rock. You’re going to love it.” They say, unanimously, that a woman’s twenties are a frantic time full of angst and confusion, and that the turning of the next decade seems to set a woman free. She finds herself on track suddenly, with more self confidence and a sense of direction. Perhaps there’s a relief from the pressures and expectations that young women are burdened with: the ideals of beauty, youth, vibrancy, vigor, and achievement levels are perhaps less doggedly applied to women no longer seen as ‘youth’. (Take no offence here, women; it’s a theory based on my mere three weeks of experience as a thirty year-old.)
Regardless, these conversations with women made me wonder: what is it about my twenties that I’m so afraid to lose? And I realized that all the important stuff from my twenties will be carried along into my thirties. So I compiled a list of what my twenties gave to me...
WHAT MY TWENTIES GAVE ME:
●A beautiful husband.
●My first motorcycle ride, which led to a passion for riding.
●A college diploma, with honors.
●Career experiences, both highlights and lowlights, but all resulting in a bundle of wisdom.
●A blog and the chance to write again.
●An on-again, off-again professional visual arts career.
●A best friend who is integral to my happiness.
●A better relationship with my parents. Much, much better than the decade before.
●A breast reduction that saved my tortured back.
●A two-year adventure in roller derby, and other athletics that I didn’t try in high school.
●A clear sense of what I do and don’t like.
●A clear sense of who I do and don’t like.
●A sense of career direction, and the opportunities I needed to realize it.
●A fat pug who makes me grin like a child.
●My first car.
●Three Caribbean cruises.
●A wedding that turned into a project that turned into a bit of an opus.
●The perfect stuffed animal that fits perfectly into my neck crook at night.
●A good sense of what hemlines are appropriate for which situations.
●The ability to cook well enough that I won’t starve or die of scurvy.
●The ability to see the grey area between black and white.
●A sense that sometimes, I just don’t care if I’ve upset someone else, and that’s okay.
●An appreciation for my natural hair colour.
●A swim with dolphins that changed my life.
●A chance to zipline over the Mexican jungle.
●The sure knowledge, after having tried it, that snorkelling is not my thing.
●A visit to Banff, Alberta that took my breath away.
With the exception of one or two of those dubious gifts, there’s almost none that I’d ask to refund. But with these notches on the metaphorical belt of my life, I am feeling like I’m ready to slow down a little...if only to get my bearings and then forge forward with greater purpose, dignity, and confidence.
Thirty isn’t so bad so far. I’ve been having some health challenges, but I have been moved to tears on a daily basis by the unwavering support and love I’ve received from the handful of people I’ve gathered around me as my core support team. I’m feeling pretty good about my new job, and I’m starting to set my sights on more writing. I think the only thing left to mourn about the termination of my twenties is that I don’t get to surprise people with my age-to-accomplishment ratio. But I’m feeling more focused on doing a stellar job now, rather than just doing a lot of jobs like I did in my twenties. I’m discovering that, when I slow down just a touch, I have a deep appreciation for simple things. In my twenties, I seemed incapable of moving at anything less than a lightning pace. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m not slowing down like an old lady here; it’s more about taking broader, meaningful strides instead of running around like a chicken with her head cut off.
I mean, yes fine, I admit that I stuck my head out of the car last night and shouted along to Teenage Wasteland, but I got it out of my system and I’m good now.
Until We Are the Champions comes on, of course. I’m thirty, not dead.