Not only is it my birthday, it's my (gulp) THIRTIETH one.
Those of you who have frequented AOGB for some time might recall my bittersweet post about turning twenty-nine last year. A whole 365 days ago I was sad, thinking that I was entering the last year of my twenties. Where had the time gone and more importantly, how could I get it back?
Although turning twenty-nine was no different, in theory, than any other birthday, I think I handled it just fine. After all, I was still in my twenties, the decade of choice for so many people.
Yet when you think about it, your early twenties are overrated anyhow. Usually you spend the first few years of your twenties trying to shake your teens and prepare for the future. That means finding a mate, a place to live and a decent job that pays the bills. In essence, your early twenties are probably one of the shakiest periods for many, but that never seems to take away from the fact that it's also the time period of choice for many. I suppose that's because while so many things remain uncertain, at least you look your best while making such big decisions.
But if I'm being honest, the second half of my twenties were better than the first. I didn't like the transition period from college to the working world. I missed my friends, my freedom and the feeling that my future was years ahead of me. Suddenly it was right there, ready for the taking and I didn't know what to do with it. You would think preparing for something the first twenty-one or so years of your life would be sufficient, but when the world is finally your actual oyster, suddenly all the wrong objects seem larger than they once appeared.
No, it wasn't until the second half of my twenties that things finally begin to fall into place. I didn't "get it right" career wise until I was twenty-six years old and decided to formally make the switch from dead end office work to full fledged teaching. I also didn't really begin to feel comfortable in my own skin until my mid twenties, shedding the last few baby pounds and finally figuring out how to manage my funky, frizzy hair. Relationship wise things didn't come easy either. Now I'm on the verge of getting married. Since I won't be married until next August though, I won't formally make that switch over until I'm (gasp) thirty-one. Years ago if you would have asked I would have thought many of these things would have fallen into place years earlier. Time and perspective teaches you though that there is no global time line, just what works best for you.
Now that I'm the "older, wiser" thirty year old, I can try to offer such perspective to my younger friends. Recently a friend of mine turned twenty-five and freaked out about being quote, "so old". In her mind, and the mind of her parents, she was always meant to be married and starting a family by now. Another friend of mine who is only twenty-three is nervous about getting the contracted job to pay the bills before September. But whose to say what you are supposed to do and when you are supposed to do it? If you start competing against your friends and peers, it's enough to psych yourself out.
Technically I'm supposed to be bidding adieu to my youth now that I'm thirty, but it's hard for me to see it that way. It's also hard for me to resign myself to the fact that I am, indeed, thirty years old. It's only when I think about my life in terms of pop culture references, which, let's face it, I often do, that I realize just how long I've been alive. As one of my students said not too long ago, Do you k now there are people who are still alive that were alive in the eighties?!
Although I am now officially "thirty something", I can honestly say it hasn't changed me all that much. I'm still a kid at heart and totally subscribe to the adage, your only as young as you feel. There are little ways that eternal youth is present in my every day life, too. I still buy a majority of clothes at kids section and have been told time and time again that I "blend in" very well in size and appearance of my third grade students. I still prefer to sit Indian style rather than with my legs crossed, like a lady sits. I love screen print nostalgia t-shirts with retro sayings. And I enjoy watching teen based, angst ridden dramas just as much as I did when I was an actual teen. The only difference now I hear the lyric, "Ooh child, things are gonna get easier" and can actually see the light at the end of the tunnel. Who knows? Maybe my thirties are going to be what I always thought my twenties were meant to be.
One thing is for certain though. Time is on my side. At least I think it is.