Thirty Year Old Girl.

Next Sunday, I will turn thirty years old.

I have no idea what this means really, only that it feels sort of big and at least a little disconcerting. Sometimes I get nervous thinking about it and when I hear the countdown clock ticking, I feel like I’m about to make some commitment I’m not ready for–like I’m marrying into adulthood and I’ve got cold feet. Other times, like yesterday while jamming to Kanye in my car, I think Dude, whatever. Thirty is just a number, and when I wake up on Monday nothing will have really changed.

My disoriented feelings about turning 30 are hard to articulate, but when I came across this artwork by Rafael Verona I thought dude, that’s how I feel.

Just a twenty nine-year-old in the red snowy jungle of life, hanging off branches and…Oh God nevermind.

Anyway, this belief that ‘I don’t really feel thirty’ resurfaces in my mind again and again–looking in the mirror, playing hide and seek with my dog, or while playing Taylor Swift songs loudly on guitar, alone in my living room. But I’m thinking now that sentiment is more an excuse, a denial maybe, of what I’m entering in to. How do I know what 30 feels like? I’ve never been 30 before. Here I am, a week shy of it, and so it follows that for me and my life, this is what 30 feels like. It’s only off because what I anticipated about 30 when I was younger and dumber is far off from the experience I am having now. There’s a lot of ways for a person to be thirty years old, and one is no more essentially 30 than the other.

Maybe it feels off-putting too because I’m growing up in the American culture of avoiding looking our age, of never growing old. This sort of ethos is the basis, I think, behind these campaigns I’m always confronting that say “50 is the new 40” and “30 is new the 20” and there’s no reason we should look like we’re getting older, even though we’re all getting older. Americans, more than other cultures it seems, don’t like the idea of growing old. And so assigning a lesser number to our actual age promotes this mentality that we’re only as old as we look (or feel). And looking less than our age is not difficult to do. We’re surrounded by options, like facelifts and chin implants and chemical peels that burn all our skin off! Not to mention the newer business of Supplemental Testosterone, which is geared toward aging men and is a $2 billion dollar industry now. Even I, feeling angst at the number 30, am trying to excuse it by reassuring myself that I don’t look thirty, as if that really means anything. It’s pretty stupid.

I should be happy to be one year older. I should be especially happy to have survived and officially move past my twenties. A lot of them were exceptionally fun, but there were a lot of mistakes and pain too, often the result of being young and not knowing better. I know that the more I understand and know myself, the easier my life becomes. When I reflect on some of the hardest parts of my life, they were often during periods that I didn’t understand or had forgotten who I was, and being lost like that causes its own type of pain. As cheesy as it sounds, every year I grow older has meant a year of knowing myself better. And being in touch with who I am means understanding my strengths, recognizing my purpose more clearly, and grasping the meaning of my small life in the context of a larger whole. Carving out where and how I fit into reality is one sure way to feel happy and fulfilled. And every birthday means I get a little closer.

….

….

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ON THE OTHER HAND I’M STILL KIND OF FREAKING OUT AND BITING MY CUTICLES A LOT AND I FEEL SORTOF CONFUSED LIKE IS MY YOUTH OVER? AND DO I HAVE TO REFER TO MYSELF AS A WOMAN NOW OR CAN I STILL BE MARY THE ‘GIRL’? IS THIS WHERE THINGS BEGIN OR IS IT ALL DOWNHILL FROM HERE? ANY ADVICE IS APPRECIATED I’LL JUST BE HERE TALKING TO MY DOG. THANKS.

Health, Happiness, Thirty.

(Ew)

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17 thoughts on “Thirty Year Old Girl.

  1. Oh Lord, I remember feeling the same way. It was strange though, once it finally happened. I felt..empowered! Yes empowered. It was almost like “I’m an adult now and I can do what I want” or “If I don’t want to, I don’t have to” and other thoughts and feelings of this nature. I haven’t looked back or felt better since. I’m 2 years shy of 40 now, and i’m wondering…what’s that going to bring? I’m excited to find out!

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  2. It’s a matter of perspective. I’m 22 and i made some very stupid things by this age that you would never imagine. These kind of stupid things i will made even i turn 80. So, the body may be growing old, but my mind will be unchanged.

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  3. Great blog! I just turned forty, end July, and then took part in GISHWHES and did incredible things – things I was afraid of because of pain, and wondering if it was ‘proper’. As I did them… the thought crossed my mind… am I acting my age? And the answer was YES. It really is just a number… A number to be DAMN PROUD OF!

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  4. I turned 40 at the start of the year and like you I still feel the same. Actually I have always felt like I do know. I just know more about who I am and what I like. Make the most of everyday and no matter how old you are, you won’t have any regrets. Happy birthday

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  5. I turned 30 in April, & kinda chuckled at your post b/c it reminded me of myself. A small part of me was like, ‘Woh… ‘true’ adult…’, while another part was like ‘OmG NOOO I WANT TO BE A KID FOREVAH!!!’ I have a hard time getting older b/c it always makes me feel like I’m leaving something good behind that I can’t get back again – but on the other hand, if I was still a kid, there’s a lot I have now that I wouldn’t have had then (husband, house, pets, knowledge & perspective, etc). Getting older kinda s*cks b/c it means there’s a tiny bit less time left on this planet… but it also makes me think of the good I have in my life & how lucky I am to have it.

    (Not to sound preachy/lame or anything… in my own ADD-way, I guess I’m saying thank you for articulating what I have also felt, & that I enjoy reading your blog, lol.)

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  6. I turned 30 23 years ago but remember the my family had my party like it was yesterday. One of my sisters hung a bed sheet on the side of the house that told everyone coming up the street to honk because it was my birthday. I kept telling them I’m not 30 and they kept telling me I was in denial. I wasn’t in denial though. My birthday was the next day and on that day I called everyone at the party the day before and told them all “NOW I’m thirty and happy to be here.
    Well fast forward 23 years and I’m still happy to be here and count each day as a blessing. I don’t look 53, at least that’s what I’ve been told, but I feel 73 most days. I have felt every one of my years this past weekend but I’ll still tell you I’m happy to be here.
    I wasn’t supposed to make it to 50 according to a lot of people.

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  7. I’m going to be 29 in 3 months and I still feel like a little kid. I still feel like I have no idea what I want to be when I grow up. I know where you’re coming from, so thank you for sharing <3 You will have a lovely year!!!

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  8. I know how you feel! I turned 30 last year and I still can’t get over the fact!
    Best thing is, I have never seen so many shocked faces when I told them how old I was getting… they thought I was 25 :) I suppose that’s good – I WAS feeling 25 :)

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  9. That image is gorgeous! Turning 30 is fine, I know what you mean though about not feeling 30, sometimes I surprise myself that I’m 32, but I guess I don’t know what else 32 is supposed to feel like.

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  10. I understand the going back and forth between “It’s totally not a big deal.” and “O.M.G. I’m not going to be doing 30 correctly!” since my birthday in June. Mine was compounded by losing my job (and identity since I’ve decided to leave teaching entirely) and realizing that I’m now 30, unemployed, and single with 2 cats. It’s been a summer full of crying, but it feels like it might be almost a little bit on the upswing lately….

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  11. Wow Mary…you’re 30! Life is better in your 30s. People take you seriously, and the best adults are the ones who always keep their best qualities of childhood. You’ll do the same. You’ll represent 30 year olds well and make a good example for all of them.

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  12. First of all happy (almost) birthday!! Secondly, I love that artwork =) And while I am freaking out slightly about almost entering my 30s, I think age is just a number and you should embrace it! Easier said than done, I know, but you are spot on when talking about our age obsessed culture. At least you survived you 20s and have learn a lot along the way. Enjoy you BDAY!

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