Bright side of 30

Today, I mark the passing of three decades and with that comes a certain amount of trepidation and introspection. As you approach the twilight of your twenties, I think it’s a safe bet that many people feel a real sense of inadequacy for the myriad of life goals yet to be achieved—Do I have a ‘real’ job? Do I have a house? Or a baby (if that’s something you’re striving for)? There is, of course, not only what has or has not yet been accomplished but also the added pressure of where you are going with the remainder of your life. I’ve never really felt the crushing weight of aging—the kind of angst and anxiety that seem to go hand-in-hand with one’s birthday (at least as an adult). I remember I was thrilled when I turned 25, unlike several people I know, as I really felt like I was finally reaching the age I’d strived to achieve most of my life. I’d like to think that I’m trying to approach 30 in much of the same way, eager to be taking on new challenges and adventures as a fully-fledged adult (pretty much). It’s hard for me to believe some times that I’m now 30–I certainly don’t feel like it yet, except perhaps when I’m creaking around in dance classes these days.

Approaching your 30th birthday is as good a time as any to take stock of your life, and I’ve spent the last few weeks thinking about what I’ve accomplished since I turned 20 (10 years, I feel like, is a manageable amount of time to reflect upon). I’m a lover of lists, and this one has been a fascinating one to construct. Lists like this I think reveal a lot about the list maker, in the sense that it highlights what aspects of their life take priority. Not surprisingly for me: travel, food, academics.

  • got a dog
  • got a BA and MA
  • started a PhD
  • fell in love
  • got married
  • drove from Vancouver to Chicago (2x)
  • moved to Chicago
  • lived in Madison, Wisconsin
  • learned how to bake
  • helped start a dance studio
  • got published in academic journals (3x)
  • presented work at international academic conferences
  • travelled to
    • Thailand (3x)
    • France (3x)
    • Japan (2x)
    • England (2x)
    • Scotland (2x)
    • Italy
    • Monaco
    • Hong Kong
    • Macau
    • Mexico
    • Norway
    • Sweden
    • Denmark
    • United States
      • Washington, Oregon, California, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, Illinois, Wisconsin, Nevada, Colorado, Michigan, Rhode Island, Indiana, Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa

There were of course a host of smaller victories that I can also say I’m proud of, such as making mascarpone and gnocchi from scratch, discovering my love of sparkling wine and dancing en pointe again for 6 months. In many ways, it’s these day-to-day, seemingly insignificant battles fought and won that have been all the more rewarding, but so often go unnoticed. They maintain one’s sanity to allow for the pursuit of the big ticket goals. Not to say there aren’t things from the last 10 years on my mental, life list that I’m not necessarily thrilled with, including gaining (at least) 10 lbs, getting achilles tendonitis (in large part a result of my dancing en pointe), and reversing my rental car into someone while in Los Angeles. But you take the good with the less than good.

Do I fit into the socially-prescribed mold of what a 30-year old should be? Probably not. I’m still a student living off not a huge sum of money, who doesn’t own a car or a home, doesn’t have kids, and isn’t even sure what country she’ll be living in 2 years from now. But I would not trade any of my experiences for a lifetime of normalcy. Those 30 years of experiences got me here, and I can safely say that I’m happy. Truly. And that’s more than enough for me. So hello, 30. Welcome.

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