Thursday, May 19, 2011
Older and Wiser
I woke up today and realized I am 30 years old.
Don't get me wrong, my birthday was almost a month ago and I celebrated throughout most of April. I partied with friends, family, and all over facebook. Many of you were kind enough to send me your good wishes and best birthday advice and I truly appreciate all the words of encouragement. Facing 30 was so daunting, so looming in the future for so many years, so talked about amongst friends that I wanted to hide under the covers and just let it pass me by. Seeing as that was not a viable option, I decided to put on my big girl panties and deal with it.
I am no longer 29 years old. I am no longer 20-anything. I am no longer "turning 30 soon." I am 30 and I have to tell you, I kinda like it!
Something shifted in me once I turned 30. It feels like all through my 20's, I'd been waiting for my life to start and now, it finally has. I thought I had set up a life for myself, all before I was even legally able to drink! Being 20 years old seems both like yesterday and a lifetime ago. I remember the moment I got on a plane by myself to cross an ocean and live in a new country where I knew no one and nothing. I remember the shock when I arrived in London and discovered (to my horror) that it was not the land of Peter Pan and Mary Poppins I'd always imagined it to be. I remember being fearless in the face of all this change, so far away from everything I'd known in my life back home. None of it scared me. At twenty years old, I possessed a fearless naivety that the world was not such a scary place. Rather, it was my proverbial oyster, and I could only set eyes on the pearls.
You know the old saying: If I knew then what I know now? I wonder if I would've done it all differently? If I knew that the man I met, fell in love with, married and planned to have children with would someday change his mind, move out, and divorce me - would I still have fallen for him? If I knew that the boyfriend I was so crazy about after my marriage ended would cheat on me and break my heart into a billion pieces - would I still have stayed with him? If I knew that after ten years of living around the world, three careers and two kittens later, I'd end up living with my parents at home - would I have chosen a different path?
The truth is that we'll never know what the alternatives to any of our choices would've been or where they would have led us. So I will stand here proudly today and tell you that NO, I wouldn't change a thing. I wouldn't live my life any differently than I chose to live it. I made lots of mistakes but they're part of who I am and how I got here. Those lessons learned, big or small, made me the woman I am today and it's taken me 30 years to say that I'm pretty proud of that woman. Yes, I'm a work in progress (aren't we all???) but that pride, that confidence is earned now, not just taken for granted.
At 20, I didn't know any better. Yes, I thought I had every answer (don't ALL 20 year olds think they know everything?) but the truth is that I was fearless because I had nothing to lose. My heart had never been truly broken, my life had never been turned upside down, I didn't really know what tragedy was. A decade has gone by and so much has changed. It's much, much harder to be fearless once you've faced the monsters in your closet, confronted your own demons, reached your breaking point. Yet that is precisely what I'm doing. For right now, I once again have nothing to lose. The world is my playground and I can make any choice I want. I can go any direction I choose. This is simultaneously exhilarating and terrifying but I choose excitement over anxiety right now. This is me putting on my big girl panties and dealing with 30.