There’s only one thing that justifies my decision to title this blog post like an Adele album–it’s my birthday, and I’m beginning a new decade of life!
30 feels like a big turning point. I honestly didn’t expect it to–I’ve been mentally rounding up my age for years. First, it was when I turned 26 and could no longer click the “18-25” demographic box in surveys. Then, it was when I turned 28, and was officially in my “late 20’s.” But now it’s actually here.
I feel mostly good about where I am in life. I think I know what I want now. I know that I’ve learned from many mistakes. And most importantly, I know that the world won’t crumble even as I continue to make mistakes throughout my life. I’m in a place of analysis now, a sort of chrysalis, where I’m floating half-formed between my past self and my future incarnation. I always thought 30 would be a more decisive time, but life is rarely what I expect it to be.
This has been a day of positive surprises–thoughtful gifts and sweet cards from unexpected places. I never make a big deal out of birthdays, but I’m always touched by the number of people who care enough to make it special.
Of all the things I expected to feel today, I didn’t expect to feel old… but I do. I think that’s the difference between “almost 30” and “actually 30.” Not that it’s actually old! It just feels different. Part of it is the mental roller coaster I’ve been on for the past few months. Instead of looking back and saying “I made such good life choices!” I’m looking ahead and thinking “I hope I can fix this…” because as lucky as I am, and for all the things I’m proud of, if I could go back and make different choices, I would. It’s not necessarily a positive feeling, even though it comes with the clarity that change must come. It’s certainly not the kind of feeling you want to have as you reach a milestone of Getting Older.
Okay, this is much darker than I meant it to be. I’ll admit, something else is going on. One of my biggest hopes for this year was to make music a bigger part of my life again. I’ve always felt that music expresses things that can’t be put into words, and it was such an important outlet for me throughout high school and college and beyond… basically, until I got so consumed by work that I didn’t have time for it. It’s one of those things that I realized I need in order to feel like I’m living a full life. So I’d been practicing daily, and working my way back to playing decently when… I got hit hard by carpal tunnel. For the past week, I haven’t been able to play the piano at all, and it’s been demoralizing. I’ve done research to find ways to avoid the problem in the future, but this experience has forced me to confront the fact that sometimes we fail in unexpected ways that we don’t expect–our bodies let us down, or something beyond or control changes, and suddenly we don’t have the life we thought we would. This, on top of all of the other transitions in my life, is difficult to take.
But 30, like every other decade, is just as much a beginning as it is an ending. My 30’s will be the years in which I get married, (hopefully) buy a house, decide whether to have children, and transition to a new career. I’m on the edge of something entirely new, and there’s so much to look forward to! So today, as I go out to celebrate with my friends, I’ll be focusing on all of my hopes for this new decade. As terrifying as the changes may be, I can’t wait!