Mid-August. This time of year always has me gearing up to face a new number. And while the number on the cake isn’t quite as “milestone” as last year, it’s still giving me pause to think on this last year, and what it’s meant. A year ago, I wrote about what turning 30 didn’t mean and then things that were awesome about turning 30. I’m not saying I don’t believe those things. But, real talk guys: 30 was hard.
Before I go on, despite all the bumps and bruises, ups and downs, I know I’ve got it pretty good. So don’t read this post as a “woe is me, my life is so hard,” diatribe. Instead, consider it a realistic tome of a girl who endured a year that was not always fantastic, yet, despite all of it, has made it (assuming nothing terrible happens between now and Saturday) to 31, and is gonna keep on trucking in spite of it all.
Full disclosure: some pretty awesome things happened at 30 – kicked off by ushering in this new decade with a pretty great party put on by some pretty great people who for some reason seem to kinda sorta like me. I also bought and moved into my first house (insert champagne and confetti emojis here). And, let’s not forget that time where I raised over $3700 for Alzheimer’s research, did a thousand burpees in a day, and ended it off with a pretty great party (hmmm…I’m sensing a theme here).
I don’t want to minimize achievements and good things in life (and especially the people who celebrated them with me)…but in between those glowing moments…there were darker times (where those same people also came in pretty handy).
30 brought a great new house – but also bouts of overwhelming anxiety and loneliness and panic about WHAT THE HECK DID I DO AND HOW DO I TAKE CARE OF THIS PLACE BY MYSELF?!
And that amazing fundraising success was precipitated by saying goodbye to my dear sweet grandma, who finally left us after batting Alzheimer’s for over 13 years. With that loss came a whole complicated flood of emotions, caring for her through the final days, and a whole new set of family situations and dynamics (some of which are still playing out over 6 months later). Nothing makes you grow up faster than seeing your parents and other older family members depend on you, instead of the other way around.
As of this writing, I’ve driven 3 cars so far this year (talk about bumps in the road!). One died unexpectedly on my March Break. Three months later, someone rear-ended me so hard on my second-last day of school that my car hit the car in front of me, rendering it a total write-off. So I got another car in July that, hopefully I will drive for several years to come. Suffice it to say, I got better at car shopping than I had hoped to this year.
*I have to asterisk it up here to say that while dealing with car stuff SUCKS no matter when it happens, both of these scenarios could have been much much worse in so many ways. No one was hurt in either incident, and I was super-impressed with my insurance company, and the personal, compassionate, awesome service I received at every turn. How often do you hear that?*
And, just to make everything more fun, in between all of these life happenings (and probably partially because of them), some good old anxiety issues decided to resurface and rear their ugly head again, because what’s the fun of dealing with challenging life situations without some mental health issues thrown into the mix?! (Can you tell that humour, sarcasm and irony are some of my favourite coping tools?).
Maybe that’s why when I look in the mirror now sometimes I think I LOOK OLD. (Side note: is there a magic age when you stop growing up and start getting old? Like when you’re little, each year is an exciting, magical celebration of growing up. And then all of a sudden, you find yourself inching toward midlife, inwardly groaning that you are getting older).
For the record, I’m not sad or embarrassed about my age. Sure, there are a lot of things that are different than I thought they would be. But I don’t want to go back to my younger self (ok ok – I wouldn’t mind having a less wrinkly forehead).
And although this year has been hard, and I might seem like I’m complaining, I wouldn’t say I’m bitter. Rather, I look at 31 and I am humbled. Chastened.
I used to have a running joke with a friend at my gym who is a few years older than me. “Just wait until you’re thirty,” she’d say as she warned me about upcoming aches and pains (oh yeah – I’ve also had the fun health challenges this year of a 3+ month nagging cough and knee pain for twice that long. GETTING OLD IS SO FUN). Well, and maybe it’s all in my head…but from the other side; I get it now.
I no longer fling myself into punishing workouts or exercise regimes without a thought of the consequences. And while I wouldn’t say that I disregarded the importance of stretching and mobility before, I certainly respect them now. At some point, you lose the “oh I’m young, I can do whatever and not warm up and it doesn’t matter” mentality.
I think injuries can be a gift, in that, while they suck and can set you back, they also give you pause to reflect on just how much you take movement (and being able to do it pain-free) for granted. Exercise is such a gift, and if you are someone who is in the habit of working out regularly; it’s easy not to give it a thought until you can’t anymore.
I’ve also lost my cavalier attitude toward moisturizer as my skin has gotten more, uh….”mature,” shall we say. I’m still working on the sunscreen thing (as anyone who saw me after my school’s track and field day this spring would attest to). But I’m now doing that whole “put a base SPF cream on under your makeup” thing most days and that whole “put on a night cream after you wash your face before you go to bed as long as you’re not too tired to forget” thing most nights. Honestly not always sure how much it helps…but hey, it’s the only skin I’ve got. Might as well preserve it the best I can right?
So…this post isn’t just a PSA for stretching and sunscreen (but both of those things are super-important, so if reading this makes you do those things more then great!). …but what is it then?
It’s permission to say that not every year of your life is gonna be amazing, and that’s OK. What’s more, even if great things happen, you’re not a horrible person for saying that the past year hasn’t been your favourite (and neither am I). Learning and growing are great and all, but more often than not, at the time; they can feel pretty awful.
It’s ok to not be where you want to be, or where you thought you’d be. It’s ok to not have things figured out. It’s ok to be a grown-up, someone now firmly entrenched in their third decade on the outside; and feel on the inside like a screaming child or some sort of poser who blinked and all of a sudden found herself alone with a whole crap ton of grown-up responsibilities.
It’s ok to one day love being grown up, and all the freedom it entails (ice cream for dinner! Staying up as late as you want); and the next day to feel absolutely crushed by the weight of responsibility holding you down and want to curl up and hide with Netflix, or, better still, run away from it all.
But at the end of the day, you’re still you (however old you are) and those responsibilities are still there. Go ahead and Netflix, but you and I are gonna have to come out from under that blanket one of these days.
I don’t feel like I have any great words of wisdom as I close the door on 30. Much of the last year I was just trying to survive, let alone learn from it all. And I won’t lie and pretend like I don’t hope this next year will be different or better. But I know that either way, I will come out the other side. Another year older, (hopefully) wiser, and in spite of it all, even more AWESOME from all the challenges I’ve faced along the way.
So don’t be afraid to grow up or get old. Even though it’s hard, there are a lot of great things about it (see post I linked to at the top). Just promise me that you’ll stretch…and don’t forget the sunscreen!