Last month, I celebrated turning 30. Woo! Most of my friends are already in their 30s, so it feels like finally being part of the gang now! But I had some thoughts…
Last year, a month before turning 29, I was in a pretty good place. And I was especially pleased at my attitude and how well I was taking the impending arrival of my 30s. How mature of me!
But the week before turning 29, I freaked out about what I was doing with my life.
“If I was going back to school, possibly part-time, it would be another six years until I was done. That would make me 35 or 36. What about children? What about possibly moving to Canada, or even move somewhere else first, as another adventure? Was it too late?”
Turns out I was less okay with turning 29 (or 30) than I thought I was. Despite all the great things in my life, it felt like I wasn’t as far along as I should have been.
But 29 came around and I started feeling better about it all. It was half because I was achieving some big goals that year, and half because of how little the number matters once it actually comes around. Life continues to glide by with complete disregard for your age.
(As a parenthesis here, it is true that feeling ‘settled’ helps feeling more secure which in turn helps you feel more optimistic about the future. As an immigrant this was my biggest struggle through my 20s and once my status was more stable, in 2017, suddenly I felt more confident.)
I think we fear the big milestones of aging because they come with reflection, about the past, the present and the future. Did I accomplish enough? What am I doing now to achieve my goals? When will I accomplish my goals?
In my mid-twenties, I got stuck looking at the future and feeling like I wasn’t getting there fast enough. I went through a lot of ups and downs at that time and I felt like I was going nowhere near the dreams and goals I had for myself, which is frustrating. I also fell into the comparison game, which is poison.
I think it’s easy to focus on preconceived ideas you have for yourself, especially in your 20s, and to disregard the journey you’re taking and what you’re learning from it.
We’re working to build something during that stage of our life and sometimes we don’t have the perspective to see that it’s slowly coming together. Getting to that point is very freeing because when I look back, I can clearly see the path that I was inadvertently forging for myself to lead me where I am now.
It’s also worth mentioning how much we grow in our 20s. That’s not something we see happening, but it is an accomplishment of its own. And through that our goals may shift as well. Especially as life throws you new challenges, as opportunities come, as doors open and close.
Looking back to my early twenties, I’m not sure I could have foreseen where I would end up at 30.
I transformed from a shy English major living with her parents into a confident immigrant living in a small Scottish town, a proud feminist, a homeowner, a triathlete, almost a PhD student, married to a Scot and working as a writer for an Icelandic company.
Life, and my own character transformation through this decade, has surprised me!
So here’s to my 30s! I’ll try to stop worrying so much about the future because I simply don’t know where the path I am on will lead me, but I’ll keep dreaming and working hard and enjoying the life I have now.