Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Thirty DOES Feel Different!

I shed a little tear this morning when I realized my twenties are over. I know, I know, such a statement is likely to give my elders a knowing chuckle - I'm okay with that.

It wasn't one of those depressed, pathetic tears. It was more of a sentimental one. I really never believed my twenties would be over. I think when you're in your twenties, or at least when I was, you sort of just think they are eternal. I know nothing is permanent but for some reason, I've always had a lot of trouble anticipating the landscape of life very far into the future.

I can honestly say this morning I contemplated what I've been doing for the past ten years and thought, "Okay, here is beginning of a new chapter; perhaps a more self-assured and thoughtful one." My goals, beliefs and choices have really become my own. Not ones for which I seek approval from others.

For me, the reality of limitation seems to have sunk in. Certain things will not happen. It is clear. I will not be a pop star by the time I'm 25. I will not have children or be married by thirty (duh). Unless something drastic happens, I'm not going to be filthy rich and my debt won’t go away just by virtue of ignoring it. These things may sound obvious to wiser folks out there but when you're looking at life from age 20 you believe literally anything can happen.

Lest you think these limitations are depressing, I would like to point out I actually find them comforting. It's like some organization has been dropped onto life and I now know where to direct my energies. Prior to this time, I wanted so many different things I would run in any direction at the hint of great possibility.

I spent my twenties exploring and exploring and exploring. I always felt I should try new things, travel the world, meet new people, see plays, learn new dances, try new foods, get fired ... ahem ... I wanted to exhaust the world of the unknown, rather than just sit still. I didn't much care to hear what other people had to say about something like graduate school or learning a new language. I wanted to experience it for myself and really understand it.

There was a tradeoff to all this, I’ve learned. Constant change and running in all these different directions came at a price. I haven't exactly impoverished myself but my financial net worth is a bit in the red. I’ve made mistakes; some were due to naïveté, some to arrogance and others to impulsiveness or impatience. I've hurt some people. I've even hurt myself. There are some things in my past I wouldn’t repeat. I would’ve been a little more forgiving of others and doubted myself less, but, you know, I really feel like I did the right thing learning about the world around me.

Age may just be a number but experience can only come from well, experiences. By seeking out the world I learned lessons I didn’t anticipate. I love that.

I know that I'm only so knowledgeable in a world of near infinite wisdom and information. The past decade has taught me the importance of humility and discipline but I know in other ways I am still searching. Spiritually, I'm still looking and contemplating. In my relationship, I constantly work to be better and relearn bad habits that are second nature to me. When I read this passage again in five years, or even just a month, I cannot know what I will have learned or from what perspective I will come.

What I do know is that I accept the passing of my twenties. I know my attitude toward the future is just that – my attitude, my choice. It's like I've got this sense of owning my life, of being responsible for what my life looks like. I'm not looking at life and asking myself what I should do when I grow up. Instead, I'm telling myself what I want my life to look like and not compromising on taking the steps needed to get there.

I am in control and ready to roll. Bring it on Decade Four.


Molly said...

Well said!

molly said...

...I hope you are wearing your "thirty and dirty" hat--to accompany all of the wisdom and somnolent introspection, of course..