Tomorrow I’ll have completed another circle around the Sun. I’m starting the last year of my 30s. I honestly don’t know how this happened. As a child I thought college students were old. Anyone beyond thirty was ancient. I figured by the time I reached 40 I’d be old and wrinkly and withering away. Well, maybe not quite that old, but still…
I thought I’d feel different. I thought I’d have it all figured out. I thought I’d be confident and secure and self-assured. I thought I’d have nothing to worry about.
I was wrong. I may have more experiences now but I still feel the same. Maybe not the same as when I was 9, but certainly not that different from 19 or 29. My personality is the same. Maybe a little more reserved, but not much. I still speak my mind and joke around and probably over share.
I think I have less figured out now that I did at 9 or 19 or 29. I probably didn’t have much figured out then, but I acted like I did. I wanted to believe everything could be solved or had an explainable answer. I now realize that’s just not so.
I’m probably not giving myself enough credit… I’m more confident, secure and self-assured than I’ve ever been in my life. However, it’s not the feeling I thought I’d have at this age. I don’t need people’s approval the way I used to. I’m not as concerned about putting myself first sometimes. I feel secure in my marriage and family relationships. Friendships though – why didn’t anyone tell me friendships would continue to be challenging through adulthood? Maintaining them, finding new ones, reestablishing old ones… I should’ve known, but man, that one really snuck up on me.
Nothing to worry about… that was just a child’s fantasy. I don’t know that there will ever be a time in my life when there’s nothing to worry about.
I have learned a lot in 39 years. I’ve learned the importance of boundaries – it’s okay to say no, it’s okay not to take responsibility for someone else’s stuff (literally and figuratively), it’s okay to have my own opinions, it’s okay to be alone. Over this past decade I’ve had to make some really difficult choices when it comes to boundaries. I’ve had to end some friendships. I’ve had to take a few steps back. It’s been painful but when I feel the freedom that comes with more space and less involvement, I realize how much those boundaries have helped my emotional health.
I’ve learned that there’s very little have control over – it’s about a three foot radius around my body. And even then, I don’t always have control over that space. I don’t have control over my own body sometimes, let alone the three feet around me. But, when I can let go of the illusion of control, I discover the freedom in life – the joy of the unknown, the mystery of the next moment. It’s not all beautiful, but as Glennon Doyle writes, it is all brutiful. It’s a brutally beautiful life.
There are some things that haven’t changed since I was 9…
- I’m still creative. I remember making decoupage collages for my parents as Christmas gifts and I did cross-stitch. I even wrote stories and tried to draw portraits.
- I still love music. I do wish I had stuck with piano lessons, but at least I still have my voice. I love looking back at all the varieties of bands and songs I’ve listened to over the years.
- I’m still a good friend. Recently a friend sent me a text out of the blue about how I “make solid bonds with people that stand through time.” I wish I had more time (made more time) to do this better, but I’m grateful for her observation. There are times that I feel like I’m not a good friend due to boundaries I’ve set up to protect myself…but maybe in that instance I’m being a good friend to myself.
- I’m still funny. I don’t set out to be funny or make people laugh, but it is a quality I have. I can’t pinpoint it exactly, but people tell me I’m missed when I’m not around and I think part of it is the way I can make a situation a bit more light hearted.
- I still like to be in nature. My younger brother and I would play in the woods all summer long. Living at that house on that property gave me a great opportunity to discover the wonders of nature that continues today.
- I still love to read. That’s probably one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever received – to learn to read and be surrounded by books as a child.
- I still go to church. Despite the many times that I’ve struggled with my faith or the church as an institution, it’s still very much a part of my life, even when I’m no longer working at one.
- I still like to make lists and be organized and keep things tidy. I think it was my tenth birthday when I got office supplies and was overjoyed with my very own stapler and three-hole punch!
My hair is turning gray. I’m getting more wrinkles on my face. I don’t get carded very often anymore. I question the fashion of the day and don’t understand the new trends all the time. I’m getting older, that’s for sure. But I’m still me. A more mature, more experienced, more compassionate version of the same person I was at 9 and 19 and 29. Getting older is strange, no doubt about it! But it’s also a gift – one I cherish each and every year.
P.S. Also something else that hasn’t changed… I purge/organize/reorganize every now and then and subsequently can’t find what I’m looking for, like all my childhood pictures! I have no idea where they are 😦