** When I first began writing this blog post, Covid-19 was still an ocean away and not on the radar of many Americans. As you can imagine, things have changed in everyone’s world and there are concerns of mine that are far greater than an upcoming birthday. This post is not meant to minimize the real problems Americans and citizens worldwide are facing **
I’m still a few months away from kissing my 20’s goodbye, but lately I’ve found it hard not to direct my attention away from the upcoming new year and what my birthday in 2020 will signify. I always used to roll my eyes at friends who expressed their fears and insecurities in turning 30, almost certain it was all an over-dramatization. What I realized is that the age has nothing to do with it, it’s the series of identities attached to a new decade.
In July of 2019, after heavy persuasion, my family and I moved to Nashville for a fresh start with new careers, a change in housing, and a chance to explore a new part of the country. Everything about the move made sense and I was delighted to find the career rewarding, the community friendly, and the weather as mild as can be. As the months went on and the honeymoon phase came to an end, I started to feel that subtle signal creeping into my brain that something was missing. Annoyed with this thought, I began racking my brain for a sign that something needed tending to. For the first time in my adult life, I couldn’t find a single fault in my career, my husband and I were arguing far less often than we ever had in the past, the weather was almost always great, and there was always a cushion in my bank account, so why was I still not satisfied?
Determined to find the answer on my own, I perused the internet looking for like-minded folks who simply couldn’t stay settled. Was I missing home? Was I mourning the loss of the “old me”? What was the reasoning behind this period of severe introspection? I had already experienced an identity crisis a few years back after attempting (and failing) to balance parenting with full-time work. This was different. There was no struggle, no sense of overwhelm, no loss of control. I was juggling 40-hour work weeks, commuting across Music City as a one-car family, and still finding time to be an above-average parent. I didn’t fit the mold of all the other 29-year-olds who felt they were nowhere near where they imagined to be as they cruised into 30. I had already been married for a few years, was the proud mother of an awesome four-year-old, had experienced the bliss and frustration of home-ownership, and considered myself an 8/10 in terms of sound judgement. Sure, waking up with a backache was now routine and acne that I had narrowly escaped my entire life had now found me and wanted to stick around, but what was I so afraid of?
Unfortunately, I don’t have the answer. But somewhere in my search I realized that not every source of anxiety has a name or a cause. Not every problem needs solving. Thirty isn’t about “growing up” or ticking off boxes on a list of things you hoped to achieve. It isn’t about becoming anyone or anything. It’s about reflection. It’s about appreciating time instead of wishing for it to speed up, slow down, stop, or simply for more. It’s about acknowledging your past but not living in it. It’s about accepting change even when it feels uncomfortable. It’s about finding inner peace in a world in which we’re told to always do better, be better, and avoid failure at all costs.
From time to time, each of us needs a gentle reminder that where we are is further from where we began and that’s worth celebrating.