Thursday, July 5, 2012

Reflections on Turning 30

I have spent a lot of time in recent months contemplating where I am in life, the catalyst being my looming 30th birthday.  Now I'm counting down the last few hours of my twenties, and we're below double digits.  Unless, of course, I consider it EST, which gives me another seven hours...

The reality is, it's coming, and in the grand scheme of things it means pretty much nothing.  Just a number.  But that hasn't stopped me from having mini-anxiety attacks for the last few weeks and feeling a wee bit sorry for myself.  And everyone I know who has turned 30 (including my many contemporaries this year) tells me it's not a big deal and that one's 30s are pretty awesome.  But since I haven't actually been 30+ yet, I still have a bit of woe is me.  And it doesn't have anything to do with the number, really.  It all has to do with where I am in life.

In my fantasy dreamworld timeline, I always assumed I'd be married with at least one child by 30, a homeowner and happy and successful in my career.  I'm 1 for 4.  And even though the timeline is entirely self-imposed and imaginary, it still stings a little not to have at least one or two more notches up there.  If you've seen the episode of Friends where Rachel turns 30, that's pretty much where I am right now.  I am doing the timeline revisions and coming up with similar freak-out moments as when she realizes she has to have already met her soulmate.

But then I take a step back and mentally slap myself and bring in a dose of reality.  I am (almost) 30 and have an awesome job, phenomenal family and friends who I love and who love me, I'm pretty financially stable (student loans be damned!), I get to travel the world for work, and I have plenty of time to figure the rest out. 

The recent point-counterpoint articles about having it all (or not) by Anne-Marie Slaughter and Dana Shell Smith, both of whom currently or formerly worked with the State Department, have certainly been weighing on my mind.  The timing of these two articles was really not helpful to my state of mind!  However, I've enjoyed the many personal commentaries on having it all by other women in the State Department sphere, which tend to be more encouraging and realistic and relevant than the original versions.  Whatever path I take from here on out will be wonderful, even if it doesn't fit in with my initial fantasy dreamworld timeline.  But that dreamworld is evolving, as it should, and I will be more cognizant of 'having it all' in whatever incarnation of real life I presently have.  THAT at least is well within my control. Besides, 30 is the new 20 - right?!

So here it goes.  Three hours and thirty minutes till 30.  Or ten hours thirty minutes if you go by EST.  Or 13:15 if you go by EST and my actual birth time.  I'm not going to be pathetic and figure it out for other, slower time zones, but you get the picture.  Deep breaths.  Ready or not, here 30 comes! 


Nomads By Nature said...

Happy Birthday!! Your 30s will be fabulous because you are fabulous! Enjoy your day, despite the anxiety/doubts (I had them too, lasted really bad about 10 minutes before I told myself, SCREW IT, and then was able to move on and focus on enjoying where I was and knowing I had control to make decisions that were right for me. Yes, that 'have it all' article series can be encouraging or damning, depending on the strength of your convictions. Being in your 30s, you will find you are stronger and even more comfortable in your own skin. 40s are even better!!

alex said...

Happy birthday! I think we all have these major freak out moments surrounding milestones. Totally normal. Because really, who ever steps back and says, "why yes, I've accomplished absolutely everything I hoped to"? No one, that's who.

But if you really start itching for a baby I have one you're welcome to borrow ANY TIME you'd like. I'll fly him to Uganda for you, even. :-)

sclawgrl said...

I sat in the parking lot of my (old) job and bawled my eyes out when I was thirty. At the time, I had two out of the three things on my personal goal list. Now, I have one of the three things, and I'm happier than ever before. We live a non-conventional life, and while there are sacrifices, overall - it's an amazing journey.

Sadie said...

Thanks ladies - your comments made my day! And being 30 feels pretty great today :-).

Lisa said...

Happy birthday Sadie! As someone who is 30 + 2, I'm happy to report that it's not too bad. It feels a lot like 25 except you eat dinner at 4 p.m., watch a lot of Wheel of Fortune and you're in bed by 7:30. Just kidding.

You still have plenty of time to achieve your goals, and a timeline really is just a timeline. Tear it up and draw another one. Besides, life has a way of surprising you in the most delightful ways at just the right times. May your 30s be better than you ever could have imagined!