I'm turning 30 this June.
Soon I'll be the "old woman" that I always dreaded I'd become.
For the record, I never thought of being thirty as a good thing. When I was in grade school, I thought thirty-year-olds were just a few years from retirement -- practically senior citizens as far as I was concerned. As a teenager, I perceived thirty-year-olds as basically "hella old." In my teenage eyes, 30-somethings lacked any desire to have a life or do anything remotely close to fun. And in my early 20s? To simply put it, thirty-year-olds "had no business in the club."
To me, turning thirty automatically ordained you as a financially established and emotionally mature member of adulthood. Thirty meant you had a college degree, a career, married with kids, voted, cared about current affairs, invested in stocks, had a retirement plan, owned a house with white picket fence, and so forth. The age almost has an air of stateliness to it. Thirty is important. Thirty means you're done with irresponsibility. Thirty means you don't want go to the club. Thirty means you have your shit together.
Reaching this age feels like a rite of passage. Now here I am, wiping my feet at the threshold of thirty's door, and I don't think I'm ready guys.
Don't get me wrong -- I'm not afraid of getting older. I've accepted that my white hairs have reached a point where they aren't manageable by simply plucking them out. I've even embraced the worry lines on my forehead. As far as I'm concerned they're badges of honor -- I earned those bad boys fair and square. Hell, I've even gotten over the fact that my boobs really aren't going to get any bigger! (I blame this ignorance on my pediatrician. She gave me false hope that I'd "bloom more" after I had kids and started lactating. Ha! Wrong.)
The physical changes associated with aging don't bother me. Though I'm not beyond buying myself boobies and a tummy tuck if my 40s push my "insecurity button." (Or if I win the lotto. Whichever comes first.) No, what bothers me is that I don't feel like I deserve to be thirty yet.
I still feel like I'm fifteen inside.
Sure I have a job, I'm responsible for the lives of four little lions, and I pay my bills on time just like the next guy, but can I be honest for a minute? Most days I want to lay in bed, watch crappy reality shows, craft, and eat Coco Puffs. I haven't even been summoned for jury duty yet, and I'm supposedly going to be thirty soon? I'm starting to think that even the people at the courthouse know I'm not emotionally mature enough for that level of responsibility.
The reality is, I'm turning thirty, but I feel like a little girl playing pretend in a big girl's world.
Ironically though, things happened to me in this lifetime that actually make me emotionally older than thirty. Too much heartache. Too much responsibility too soon. Too many medical problems. Too much loss. Frankly, all of those things have aged me about a thousand years. It would age you too, my friend.
So, although I'm capable of making decisions like a thirty-year-old, I'm still far from caring about my contribution to my retirement. Yes, I said it, I haven't started a 401k.
I'm still trying to figure out what I want to do with my future let alone trying to figure out how to retire from it! I never had a chance to peruse though the "aisles of possibility" in my early adulthood. Having kids at a young age forces you to grow up, you know? "Real" thirty-year-olds probably followed a college-marriage-house-kids plan of action whereas I followed a kid-kid-some college-kid-kid-kid-worklikeadoguntilthedayIday succession. So, I often feel like I'm playing catch up with my emotional development.
Like really, I'm turning thirty and I'm STILL not done with school?! Like really, I'm turning thirty and I don't even know where to begin when it comes to the stock market?! Like really, I'm turning THIRTY and I still want to spend my days water-coloring like I did back in high school?! Like really, I'm turning thirty, have FIVE kids, and I'm still not married?
While the rest of my friends spent their 20s being free and finding themselves, I spent most of my 20s living in the "right now." The "now" commanded my decision making and emotional development. There was no time for dreaming. No time for fun. No time for Coco Puffs. I was busy working two jobs, going to school, grieving, procreating, and raising kids while trying to raise myself. And now I desperately want to regain all of the "possibility" that I lost in my 20s.
I don't feel like I'm 30 yet because I skipped an important phase of my emotional development. I'm stuck in high school -- or Coco Puff-land as I like to call it. I miss living in the unapologetic selfishness and egocentricity associated with being "young." I love my life, but sometimes I just want these kids and my baby daddy to leave me alone for just one stinking minute!
Maybe it's a Mom thing? Would I even feel this way if I was "normal" thirty-year-old mother? Shouldn't I be a doting mother and "wife" all the time instead of the overstressed, daydreamer longing for a day off from responsibility? How could I possibly deserve the title of "Being Thirty" when all I truly desire is to consume massive amounts cereal and uninterrupted time for creativity?
I don't know. But I do know this -- 30 isn't the end of the world like I thought it once was.
I'm in no rush to feel my age. I'll get there eventually, but for now I'm OK with being Peter Pan on the inside -- I refuse to grow up. I refuse to let thirty define me. I may sometimes feel self-conscious and uncivilized when I'm in the company of normal, mature thirty-year-old mothers, but I'm learning accept that too. Life is a work in progress and it ain't over until it's over. There is so much that I want to do and tons of time to do it. There is nothing wrong with still believing that possibility is out there. And who said life needed to be done in a specific sequence anyway?
I'm conclusion, Jay-Z was right. 30 is definitely the new 20.