Wednesday, February 29, 2012

30 Days Until Thirty-Years-Old

In 30 days on March 30th, I’m turning thirty-years old and I don’t feel like I’m ready.

During the past weeks I’ve mentioned my feelings about turning thirty to a couple people and most have disregarded my feeling as being a little ridiculous. So I’m going to try to explain myself. I can’t be the only person this year turning thirty who’s dealing with these feelings so I’m going to try to lay this out for you.

When I was a teenager I never yearned for independence or wanted to be an adult. There were times that I wanted more freedom but the idea of being an adult seemed impossible. The difference between adults and kids in my teenage mind was that adults just had things in life figured out. They knew how to handle finance, speeding tickets and how to fix random things. My mom has this way of understanding people that seemed unattainable. I figured there would be time for me to get there but it seemed so far away because as teenagers so much in life seemed so hard to understand.

On my twenty-first birthday I was on a plane flight coming back to college from Spring Break. I remember thinking “I’m an adult now, but I still don’t have anything in life figured out.” But I had time to figure things out.  Nine years later, I have that same feeling.  The difference is that I'm no longer new to being an adult.

Almost every person who is older than me that I respect has told me that they have no idea what they are doing in life and have yet to figure their lives out. I know that this feeling of constantly figuring life out is a good thing, it’s a sign of growth. I’m just having a hard time letting go of the illusion that at thirty, things would just feel a little bit more . . . together.

Don’t get me wrong; I have had an amazing decade. I’ve made some amazing friends and married my best friend. I live in a great place, have a dream job and a beautiful family including quite possibly the cutest dog on the planet. But for some reason, being thirty, being an adult should feel more natural.

At work I talk to other teachers and administrators who seem so much more adult than me.  They talk to me on an equal level, and I’m thinking to myself “you’ve been teaching longer than I’ve been alive, how can we be on the same level?” I feel like a little kid playing dress up. I even see people my own age on television and for some reason they seem older than me.

I know this is all perception and that I have proven through many different situations that I am in fact an adult and that I do have my life in a good place. I just can’t shake this feeling that there’s something I missed in my twenties, something I should have figured out by now.

Maybe that’s exactly what this past decade has been about: the realization that adulthood is just an illusion for the youth. Maybe we never have things “figured out,” we just learn to act like we do for the younger people in our lives so they can feel secure.

I don't really feel like I'm ready to be thirty but I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing.   I didn't feel ready to be twenty and look how well that worked out.

Life goes on and that really is something to celebrate. 

Here's to spending the next thirty days doing just that. 


  1. Heh, except for the fact I'm not married, have no house of my own and work two dead end jobs just to make ends meet I'm the same as you. (turning 30 on March the 16th) At least you're not me I guess? Still trying to find my feet and all. Whats odd though is that I took life too seriously in my early twenties. I'm getting better as I reach this milestone too relax a little but theres this pressure, this niggling at the back of my head that if I could go back in time to see my 15 year old self, I'd have nothing much to show for her except some bitter truths. Oh well, everything in hindsight.

  2. To me your perspective sounds, ironically, quite mature. The more we learn, the more we know we don't know, right? Unfortunately I think many people think they've figured out all sorts of things. Perhaps they are "grown up", in the sense of having stopped growing...but they miss the point that life is not about becoming "grown up", but about continuing to grow. Thankfully we have children (not to mention cute dogs) to help remind us to play, to remain young and child-like at heart, and to never finish growing up.

    Congratulations on (soon) 30 years!