This week I am turning 30.
The last couple months have been an interesting ride, most of the people around me have been unsure of how to go about addressing this birthday (or not) since I tend to be swept up in an emotional cavalcade a lot of the time. Suggestions ranged from ((psst, don’t mention it!)) to let’s jump out of an airplane!!!
Finding myself in a position to try to discern how other people feel about me turning 30 (or how other people interpret my interpretation of turning 30) has been confusing, and initially didn’t leave a lot of room for my thoughts and feelings about the situation.
How do I feel about turning 30?
I think the general consensus is that most people have been concerned that turning 30 would plunge me into some kind of existential crisis (hello 25th birthday) where I would be confounded by the meaning of life, the universe, and everything and self-implode.
In actuality, once I had some time to be alone with the idea of turning 30 I would say my biggest emotional reaction has been one of relief.
I felt similarly when I turned 20. The mental breakdown I had in my late teens left me unsure about my ability to maneuver my way to my 20th birthday.
This time I have spent the last decade experiencing similar mental implosions multiplied by 200, 300, maybe even 400%. I don’t mean to be morbid, but there were honestly times I wouldn’t have bet my money on reaching 30. But…
Here I am! (Deal with it, sukas!)
I’ve heard many people say that their 20’s were the hardest decades of their lives, and that things became significantly more stable in their 30’s. Obviously there is no way to know what my future holds, but knowing that the life lessons I learned in my 20’s (how to live on the quarters people drop under vending machines, how to deal with a boss who is sexually harassing you, surviving the deaths of friends or family members, learning not to treat my doctors as gods, ending toxic friendships, etc.) are not things I will ever have to do again for the first time. So many difficult situations that I have learned how to cope with and come through the other side that it gives a person a sense of strength and comfort, knowing that if I could live through the things I lived through in my 20’s, I am significantly less inclined to be afraid of my 30’s.
Apart from relief, my other dominant feeling is a celebratory one. Every once in a while, I need to let myself eat that carrot that has been hanging on the string out in front of me prompting me to move forward, and this is one of those times.
A lot of my bipolar symptoms have left me in a position where it is very difficult to look forward, make goals, or plan for the future. Living in the moment and from one day to the next is one of the few things that helps give me relief, so despite reaching 27, 28, and 29, reaching 30 has been a bit of a shock really. Like 20, when it was a detached number on a page I can’t say I really expected to reach it.
At any rate, reaching 30 has felt a lot like reaching a new save point on a video game I’ve never played before. I find myself both delighted, relieved, and ultimately a little shocked (because who knew I had the skills to make it past that last scaly-faced fire-breathing boss?!?). Though I don’t know what comes next, it has been important for me to take a much needed moment to pat myself on the back because ultimately… I don’t do it as much as I should!