"I know as a woman I'm supposed to be afraid of getting older but I love this shit so much. Every year I sink deeper into this bath of unapologetic realness and it's amazing." - Bunmi Latidan
I love birthdays. I hardly need to tell you because if you've been near me you know I like birthdays. I'm not an extravagant party kind of person. I don' t need dancing in the streets or 600 of my closest friends on a birthday yacht. But I do think birthdays should be special. I think people should do fun little things on their birthdays and we should all take a moment to think how glad we are that this person was born. Or how glad we are that we were born ;)
Most of all, I love my own birthday. And this year I'm turning thirty. Any birthday to me is time for contemplation, but this feels especially contemplative as I enter a new decade.
To be honest, sometimes I have mixed feelings. Lots of times I am my usual "I love getting older! Yay! What a privilege!" and other times I feel the sadness and panic that time is slipping away quickly and I haven't done anything yet! And the weirdly sweet sadness of having lived things that can never come back.
But there's another thing, a thing that's hard to talk about. Guys, life is so short. I'm only just starting to learn how short it is. In the last few years my extended family has experienced several sudden, early deaths. I am always reminded that, depending on how genetics play out, I may not live to be 65. Nothing puts the really important things in perspective like realizing you may already be halfway done.
That realization helps me see how full a life I've already lived, and it makes me more determined than ever to embrace the little things. I have already done loads in my life. I've had beautiful friendships, experienced the kind of romantic love I always hoped I'd get, chased my dreams, cried when I haven't know what those were, ended up exactly where I said I wouldn't but loved it anyway, and hopefully been a light in people's lives. That is already so much, already enough. And I'm so thankful.
Also, with this milestone birthday approaching I've noticed something, a new thought pattern has been cropping up that really surprised me. Every now and then I catch myself saying things along the lines of: "You're almost 30, you should have [insert whatever I'm struggling with] figured out by now!". "You're almost 30, you can't change your career.", "You can't go back to school.", "You can't wonder what it would be like if your life were different. Accept what you're good at. If you're not happy with it, well, you should have realized that years ago!", "You're almost 30, isn't it time you had a real job?"
Guys, if you had asked me I never would have said "Yes, I am a person who thinks that they should have it together by the time they're 30." I would have said "No! Getting it together is a myth and learning and growing is part of what it means to be a human!" But here we are! And I'm here to tell myself (and you, if you think stuff like this), that all of these things are lies. They're walls and deadlines of our own creation. Turning 30 doesn't mean I suddenly have to have all my emotional, psychological, relationship, and career problems figured out. I don't have to know everything about myself. I can still ask questions and explore my options and learn. Sheesh, I'm not dead yet! So I'm trying to stop allowing this milestone to box me in, because there's almost nothing that makes me feel more strangled and small than "You might as well give up and settle for an easy, vaguely discontented life. You're 30, after all."
So, I am telling myself every day is: every year that passes is such a golden opportunity to embrace the adventure that is living. Getting older is living, people. Not everyone gets to be as old as me. I am so honoured and so lucky to be this age. I want to treasure it.
In the last year or two, people have started assuming I wish I were younger. People exaggeratedly ask me if I'm turning 22 - when obvs that is not the case, I'm no babyface - and I'm awaiting the barrage of "29 forever!" jokes with a raised eyebrow. I am not embarrassed about getting older. Frankly, you should be embarrassed that you think I'd be embarrassed. I love living, and part of living is getting older. It's a great adventure! It's scary sometimes, it's heart-wrenchingly sad, but not a day goes by that I wish I was younger. A man at church who who is basically Church Dad told me that so far his 60's have been the best decade. I want every decade of my life to be the best one so far. My 20's were a great time of learning, growing, panicking, agonizing, and a lot of therapy. I'm glad they happened; but I'm so relieved that I don't have to be stuck in them forever. Instead, I get to look forward in life for what I'll learn and love and do next. And you know it will be wild!
Basically every day I think of this quote by Eleanor Roosevelt "Every age, someone has said, is an undiscovered country. We are constantly advancing, like explorers, into the unknown, which makes life an adventure all the way." If I were forced to get a face tattoo, it would be that quote. Life is such an adventure, all the way. No adventure is complete without hardship, without hilarity, without love and friendship. I'm so, so excited to embrace being in my 30's and to move forward into a mysterious decade.
Cheers to getting older, my loves.