Self Portrait at 30.
Today is my 30th birthday.
I've been looking forward to turning 30 since I was 12. It always sounded like a nice, round, solid number -- the magic number. The perfect age, the age of comfort and reason, at which I would finally become the person I was meant to be, living the life I was meant to live.
I'm not sure if that's the case, today, but I'm still pretty excited about the prospect of embarking on a whole new decade. My Thirties. It sounds very grown up. You can't mess with me now, I'm an adult! I have experienced no sense of dread or ennui about turning 30. On the contrary -- I feel like turning 30 is a sizable accomplishment, if for no other reason, than that I've made it past my 20s, which were kind of insane.
The last year or so, I have been feeling a slow but deliberate internal shift of my thoughts and energy, focusing more inward, and less outward. I am much less concerned about what or how people think of me, and much more focused on how I feel about myself, and what I'm doing with my life. It's stunning to me how much time and emotion I've wasted over the course of my last 30 years, caring about how other people perceive me, and what they think may about what I wear, how I live, who I am. My next 30 years are not going down like that.
I do not have a list of things I want to accomplish "before" -- before I turn 30, before I turn 50, before I die. But if I did have such a list, you can bet that becoming a mother would have been at the very top, no doubt (above "become an astronaut" and "find my real parents," even). But if you'd told me 10 years ago that at 30 I'd be married, living in the 'burbs, and a full time mother, I would have told you that you'd been rubbing up against the crazy tree. At 21, 22 years old, the thought of doing what I do now was horrifying -- just completely beyond my sphere of understanding. But here I am, just a few years later -- and I love it. Most days. I feel like I'm doing a lot with my life, raising my two girls up to be strong and intelligent women. I feel like I made a really radical choice, in forgoing "work" in order to be here with them, and make our home a peaceful place to grow and root and be. More than anything else I've done in my life so far, motherhood has changed, inspired, and humbled me. What a difference a few years can make.
There are still a million things in my life that I want to do. If they happen, great. If not, I'm sure that other wonderful things will have happened instead. I want to go back to college -- and finish this time. I want to travel with my husband and my girls to Africa, southeast Asia, the Caribbean, and the parts of Europe that I missed the first time around. I want to learn to play the drums. I want to finish The Satanic Verses. I want to own a house and paint every room a different color. I want to live somewhere that gets snow in the winter. I want to eat fruit fresh off the tree on a beach somewhere. I want to learn to knit/throw pottery/insert craft here. And I feel pretty confident that I will, at some point, do most, if not all of those things. Not so much because I'm a goal oriented person, but because I am a hardcore hedonist, who likes to to bum around the world, lazing about, reading and eating and daydreaming with my family. I'm a grown-ass woman, and I can admit that the things I really want in life are pretty simple.
When I think back to my 20th birthday, it seems like eons ago. I was so different. I've lived three lifetimes since then! Ten years from now, who will I be? What will be different about me then? What will the same? I don't know. But it's exciting to think about. I'll get back to you in 2016.