Welcome to Birthday Week here at One Little Minute! I’ve prepared a post each day that is centered around a birthday theme (sort of like Reindeer Week without the antlers and on a more toned-down, personal level).
Today I’m sharing some thoughts on my experience with turning thirty. This post and it’s accompanying, upcoming “Becoming Thirty” series has been stewing in the old pot for months. In fact, I’ve been sort of freaking out about turning thirty for a couple years. Maybe because I felt so weird about it, I thought asking friends to share their experiences with turning thirty would ease the pain. Then, surprisingly as my birthday got closer and closer, the anxiety started to melt away, and the remaining emotion was peace. I’m excited to share my feelings with you, and would also love to hear about your own personal experience with Becoming Thirty.
Two weeks ago I turned thirty. It was a long-anticipated milestone; a date that, for whatever reason, I felt deeply. Last week a friend asked “So, do you feel different now that you’re thirty?” and the truth is I do! I really truly do feel different. I feel grown up. I feel comfortable. I feel happy.
If you’ve read my blog for a while, you may remember back when I turned twenty-seven, I had a moment of realization that my thirtieth birthday was coming. I made a couple silly goals back then: learn to walk in high heels, and begin to wear lipstick. I was really digging deep, as you can see. I’m happy to report that I have accomplished my goals. I have not one, but three pairs of high heels that I love and wear, if only on special occasions (and still somewhat uncomfortably after an hour or two.) And lipstick is now a regular part of my beauty regimen, and sometimes even a bit of a crutch. On days I don’t do much else, red lips make me feel pulled together and ready to take on the day.
In addition to these two significant accomplishments, I have also come into my own in a way I didn’t anticipate. I have thought about what it would be like to “become thirty” since that big ah-ha three years ago. This continual checking-in with who I was and who I was hoping to become brought me to a new and unknown place in my life. It’s a place where I am finally able to accept myself for who I am, in all of my many strengths and many many weaknesses.
I wish I could pinpoint what experience or thought process pushed me over the edge. It would be really fun to share a secret to this freedom from expectations and comparisons. Really, though, I think the process was a slow getting to know myself. Really caring to understand what makes me tick, what makes me smile, and what makes my soul sing. Through a lot of trial and error, when my life was too full of projects and commitments for my own good and I had to prioritize, I learned to chose well for myself and for my family. Not for anyone else.
And all of the sudden, it didn’t matter what anyone else said, or did, or wore, or accomplished, because none of the success that anyone else achieved took away even a tiny sliver from the success that I achieve. No one else is exactly like me, and so how silly it is to expect that I could or should need to measure up to anything by my own goals, hopes, and aspirations. The more I accept myself, the easier it is to truly accept those around me. When the wall of comparison and competition is removed, there is nothing left but support and love.
I feel like I’ve calmly settled into my shoes and finally empathize with myself. I have good days and bad days, great opportunities and huge challenges, moments of deep faith and moments of despair. I feel liberated knowing that not every good intention will produce a successful outcome, and not every good idea will create a brilliant product. But some will, and that is reason enough to continue doing my best at the things I choose to do.
Becoming thirty meant making myself happy. It was a simple resolution to do more of what I like, and also accept the responsibility for my own joy. No one else has to create a good life for me, though so many wonderful people play huge roles in it. This is my story! I write the pages day in and day out by the adventures I choose, and also the way I respond to the circumstances that are outside of my control. Together with Dave, I can plan for the future that I want, and chose each day to make my way in that direction.
If I want a birthday full of balloons, I can drive to the store at ten the night before my big day, buy three hundred, and spend a couple hours pumping them up while watching Friday Night Lights and eating licorice. Then on my birthday, I can wander around kicking the colorful globes through the air, watch my boys squeal with delight, and feel fully satisfied with the accomplishment of a simple festive celebration turning out exactly as I had hoped.
I can look back on my life and feel at peace with the choices I’ve made, the goals I’ve accomplished, and the person I’ve become. I am living the life that I want and it is wonderful. Every day brings new challenges and lessons, but that’s what I’m here for; to learn, to apply that knowledge, and then to share it to enrich the lives of those around me.
Throughout this year, I will be sharing the stories, experiences, and advice about “Becoming Thirty” from friends and readers. It has been such a milestone for me, and I know turning thirty feels different for everyone. I would love to hear about your experience! Email me your story at firstname.lastname@example.org.