They say things start to make sense when you hit your thirties. Essentially you know how things work, and you make the best of what you have, and you learn to love what you do and end up doing what you love. All the platitudes aside, I always saw your thirties as the much-awaited and well-deserved relief from the panic and anxiety of your twenties. It’s the time of your life where you really just can’t be arsed and it’s great — because for the things you can be arsed about, you’re a phenomenal arse.
How amazing it is, really, that I seem to have so solid an understanding of what it means to be in your thirties, barely hours into it. Egad.
Far from claiming any position of authority on the matter of your thirties however, I’d merely like to share my thoughts about celebrating my thirtieth anniversary as a human being.
I never really dreaded turning the Great Three Oh, as I saw my sister make the transition from her 20s to her 30s relatively smoothly — that is, without any obvious mushroom clouds, but I’m pretty sure she blew shit up nevertheless. Armed with that knowledge, I thought to myself,“Hey! It can be done! Turning 30 doesn’t have to totally destroy life as we know it!” And then as I drew closer and closer to it (right now I’m reminiscing I’m 25), I realised majority of my friends were older than me and were comfortably in their 30s. That gave me so much to look forward to — my friends were the coolest. Like, literally. DJs. Socialites. Drug dealers. Scholars. Geniuses. Statesmen. Criminals. Holy men. Sociopaths. Empaths. Entrepreneurs. Landed gentry. I had friends everywhere. Except like in the girl’s bathroom, but whatever.
I’ve always pretty much looked forward to getting older. I’m one of those precocious gifted children who plateaued and became an underachieving adult. I’ve always tried to come off as more mature, more wise, more experienced, more capable than perhaps I ever really was. I thought getting older would make me more legitimate — that I wouldn’t be seen as just some wet-behind-the-ears kid who has a knack for things. I didn’t really notice when I got too old to be saying that I was still a kid. Partly because, as mentioned most friends are older, but mostly because I believed my age needed to catch up with my brain before I needed to do anything with my life. What the fuck, right?
Why didn’t I grow, when I so desperately yearned for it? Why didn’t I progress, advance when I would have been ahead of my time rather than a straggler, falling further and further away from the pack? Oh, look! Hubris! Hello!
Acting 24 when you’re 28 but feeling like you’re 35 is, when it comes down to brass tacks, rather pathetic. BUT. This is not a “I wasted my 20s being stupid” whine. If you look at it objectively, I did the same as countless others before me and countless others after me: I wasted my 20s being stupid. Big fleshy deal. I dread to think how insufferable I’d be if I hadn’t been stupid, or anxious, or insecure for all those years.
As stupid as I was during my 20s, my life took some great fucking twists and turns that have brought me to the most genuinely happy place I’ve ever been in (and I took many, many drugs. I know what happiness feels like compared to euphoria). Without my stupid 20s, I wouldn’t have my beautiful family. I wouldn’t have my whole life ahead of me as it is right now, as the sun is rising and the birds are chirping on my very first day of being thirty years old.
I set out writing this piece thinking how monumental it was, turning thirty and actually feeling different from being twenty-nine. Feeling settled in myself, enough to share myself, the anxiety of potential rejection and scorn far from my mind. I thought that was an amazing feeling — and I knew really it had nothing to do with the clock striking midnight and getting the sweetest happy birthday song phone call from my husband. I call him this even though we aren’t living in the same house, or married yet, but I am wed to him in the etymological sense of the word.
I set out writing this piece to celebrate how knowing that you’re loved makes knowing yourself a lot easier, to hypothesise about panic and anxiety, to analyse an authentic outlook, to marvel at how our understanding and tolerance expands when we stop doing shit we don’t actually want to be doing and pretending to like it.
This piece however has had other ideas — it is a sort of reckoning, an examination of who I am thus far.
I’ve done nothing truly heinous or amazing. I am just like everyone else — the same everyone else I spent my 20s convinced I was better than, smarter than, superior to, misunderstood by, beyond. The selfsame everyone else I spent my 20s wanting to be included in, to feel sameness and relatability, to belong to.
I’m no longer striving to be an outlier. I highly doubt I will do anything exceptionally great with my life. I am nowhere near where I wanted to be five years ago, ten years ago. I am nothing like I thought I would be when I daydreamed of growing up. And I cannot be arsed to keep trying to be someone I am not. I’m not special. I haven’t tried to set myself apart. I’m sure I’ve touched a lot of people’s lives, for better or worse, but I will fade away when the last little child I speak to when I’m a grandmother forgets about me. I think that would be a graceful end to a life fully lived, and I can’t ask for anything better for my birthday.
A life fully lived.
After the shitshow that was my 20s, I almost can’t wait to get started.