Tomorrow I am turning 30. I think this post is mostly me trying to exist in this moment where I am still 29 but prepared for 30. My twenties felt adequately long and I don’t feel like I missed them or they went too fast or anything like that. I guess I just feel strange to identify myself differently to others as a new decade of age.
Does turning 30 mean I have to become an adult? Does it maybe mean that automatically without a say in the matter that I AM an adult?! Maybe I’m scared that I’m not doing enough or accomplishing enough to be 30. I remember being 14 and thinking that 30 year olds were so mature and adult. At 14 where did I think I would be at the end of my third full decade?
I will look at 30 from where I thought I would be and compare it to where I am.
I thought I would be married. For sure I know I saw myself hitched with a super hot husband by 30 when I was younger. He had a name like Clifford or Geoffrey and his job was rescuing animals from oil spills but he made a ton of money doing it. I’m not sure it was ever explained to me back then how salaries worked for different careers. Plus, it’s my fantasy, so I am responsible for setting the pay grades for these fictional men. Man who washes a baby duck with dish soap: $1 million dollars a year. Now I get super excited when a guy can afford his own taco’s on $1 Taco Tuesday. If he splurges for the extra guacamole for himself I’m floored.
I used to think, “which man will be lucky enough to get a special girl like me?”
Now I think, “who is kind and patient enough to put up with my being a cuckoo nut-job forever?”
I used to think, “I’ll be so happy and lucky to be married.”
Now I think, “I’m so happy and lucky to not be married!”
I used to think, “Having a husband will mean I’m never alone.”
Now I think, “Having a husband will mean I’m never alone… so how will I have time to dance to the Hamilton Cast Recording in my underwear at full volume?!”
I thought I would have kids. At least one or two by now and all very well behaved (don’t make me repeat the part where my fantasy gets to be awesome and unrealistic). My children would mow the lawn and do dishes and we would all play games and read books together and never fight and I would love them so hard they would explode. Now the thought of having kids, let alone multiple kids by this age is HILARIOUS to me. Not for everyone, I know lots of people who are together enough for kids in their twenties, but I forgot to buy toilet paper last week and was peeing and then immediately showering for two whole days, I am not that person. If I had a child now, every stuffed animal they owned would sleep with me in my bed. I would name them all and if my beautiful sweet angel wanted one to play with themselves I wouldn’t want to let them. As a full grown adult, I would be reluctant to share a stuffed children’s toy with my own child, the person I’m supposed to be teaching about sharing. Video games? Those are also for me. Here is a stick, go play with that.
I used to think, “I can’t wait to have kids.”
Now I think, “I should really wait to have kids.”
I used to think, “Having kids will bring me such joy.”
Now I think, “Having kids will bring me so much joy… in like five or six more years. Today this hamburger brought me so much joy.”
I used to think, “I’ll be a great mom.”
Now I think, “I’ll do my best when I become a mom, but dammit am I going to screw them up royally”
I thought I would have an impressive career. Professional chef or veterinarian were my logical choices but anyone who knows me knows that my real dream was to be a sea lion trainer at the aquarium. I would have gone to school, gotten all A’s easily and found a job instantly out of school. I would show up every day and love my job and love Ce-Lion Dion and Cee-Lo-In Green (the sea lions names, obviously). I would be making an easy six figures a year (although money would be no object because my husband is seen on those Dawn commercials scrubbing pelicans, so we are good) and I would be well on my way to becoming Queen Head Trainer. Soon after I believe the next promotion is Queen of all Sea Lions, a job I would have taken quite seriously and accepted with honor and pride.
I am now a writer and bartender. Turns out I love them both more than anything else I’ve ever done. Although I do tire of people asking me what I’m going to do with my life, I know that I wake up every day excited to go to work and my life is my own. I have a flexible schedule, make good money, have fun every day, meet new exciting people and get to express myself on my own terms. It’s really great.
A few weeks ago I was bar tending a business event at work and one of the bosses of the company, an older gentleman (maybe 70’s?) ordered a very specific martini. I always love someone who knows exactly what they love to drink so naturally we were having a pleasant conversation while I mixed. He told me he had been a bartender years ago and said, “Of every job I ever had, that was my favorite. I have always missed it.” I make no qualms about his choice to find security, but the look in his eyes while I peeled his lemon twist was pure admiration and it made me feel good about where I am and how I got here.
I used to think, “I need an impressive job to be successful and happy.”
Now I think, “I need to make sure I pay the bills, beyond that success and happiness are found, for me, in non-conventional jobs.”
I used to think, “I will know what I’m meant to do with my life.”
Now I think, “If I ever stop exploring and learning my life will have no meaning.”
I used to think, “Being a well respected career woman would be nifty.”
Now I think, “I wonder if Cat Fancy Magazine would publish my songs about Ninja Squee?”
I would have tons of awesome friends that I saw all the time. Oh wait, I do.
I guess I just needed to write this to see that I’m alright. I feel like I can wake up tomorrow and face 30 with gumption. Sure I haven’t done things the way I planned, but some of my plans were misinformed or insane (except the sea lion thing, I still want to be their Queen). If I’m giving myself some credit I can say I have lived in the moment enough to be aware of who I am, who I want to continue to become, what and who is important to me and how to be happy most of the time. Heck, I got to name my cat Pooter with no one objecting and I can eat burritos every day and fart alone in my beautiful apartment. If that isn’t success, I want no part in what is.