I’m turning 30. I’ve been looking for a good excuse to resurrect this blog for some time now, and this seems as good a reason as any. I understand that turning 30 means I should be deeply upset, spending many hours on contemplative introspection. But look, I have friends coming to visit, and I also understand there will be a lot of cake to get through, so. Priorities.
At 15, I could not conceive of myself at 30 – in much the same way that I cannot currently conceive of myself at 60. Attempting to imagine what might change as your years on earth literally double is probably futile anyway. But at 15, many of my friends seemed to have a clear picture of where they would be by 30. Kids, houses, careers; all the usual fare, but somewhat unsettling for me. I had something different. I had a very clear picture of who I wanted to be at 30, but all the details in-between were terribly fuzzy. Older me was improved me, and that’s all I knew.
I wanted her to be a little bit braver, a little bit kinder. Certainly a bit more confident to share her opinions. Maybe someone who wore bright glasses, knew a few jokes, and wasn’t so afraid of looking silly.
I kept thinking about these things. I thought about these things a lot – while I worked at awful jobs, and returned to university, and worried about more or less everything always. I had my eye on the prize. Improved me was going to happen! Turns out, this was not such a bad strategy. Ageing with intention, if you’ll forgive the hippie turn of phrase, is pretty effective.
I did not anticipate spending a decade living in Australia. I did not anticipate meeting my partner at such a young age, certainly not after my teenage self declared I would never do such a thing! The experience of growing with someone has been one of the most illuminating and fulfilling aspects of the last 10 years. I did not anticipate so, so many things. The hollow disconnect of losing family and friends across an ocean, and worse, momentarily forgetting I would never see them again. How heartbreaking it could be to be recognised by a grandmother who is still here, but is living somewhere else in her mind entirely. I did not anticipate watching my loved ones go through illness. I definitely did not anticipate how fast a decade can pass and how ambivalent I could feel about where I spent it.
I also didn’t anticipate weirdly good vacations that came with tropical cyclones, or how much cheap wine a broke 20-something can drink, or how rewarding and terrifying buying a house could be, or any of the many other wonderful things that have happened since my 15 year old self tried to predict the future. I’ve learnt to give speeches without wanting to throw up, and the delicate art of the angry email. I started a business. I talk to my cat. I’ve learnt to appreciate all the small mercies of life and find the beauty therein. Hell, I learnt to cook.
So hey, here I am at 30. Pretty much everything (or nothing) has gone to plan, considering I didn’t have one. But I am happy to report that I am a little bit braver and a little bit kinder. My glasses are red. I still miss my family, a lot.
Three intransitive verbs walk into a bar. They sit. They drink. They leave.
(and I am not afraid to tell you how funny I find that joke.)
What’s the moral of this slightly (ok, very) self-involved story? Well, I don’t know. My cat walks away in the middle of my sentences. Now if you’ll excuse me, I understand there is cake.
Nonono, wait! I’ve got it!
Wherever you are in life, no matter how lost you feel – maybe it’s not about figuring out where you should be, or what you should be doing, or who you should be with. Taking stock of who you want to be, and taking some baby steps to get there…well, that seems to lead to positive change pretty consistently. I’m looking forward to seeing what the next 10 years will bring, and I’m already thinking about who 40-year old me will be.