I was at the doctor’s office a few works ago for an annual check up. (For once.) As I sat down with the nurse practitioner, she looked at my chart and announced.
“Ah, I turned 30 last year. That one hurt.”
I must have looked confused because she immediately followed with, “I mean, I don’t know if you think about age like that.”
I laughed, because I don’t think about age like that, whatever that is. Most of the time I forget how old I am. For the past ten years, I mostly thought I was 18. For the past few months, I seem to have settled on 32.
To clarify, I’m 29. As in, 29 years ago today I stood up in my mother’s womb and announced, “Dammit, I’m not waiting any longer” and I arrived in this world one full month early because I like giving myself a little extra time to make sure I’m not late.
28 was a doozy. I hated 28 because it was hard. I loved 28 because it was hard. Everything changed, and nothing changed. It was the worst, and the best. 28, you were a freaking roller coaster.
I spent a lot of 28 oscillating between daydreams and tears.
In January, I packed up my apartment, bought a one-way ticket to Italy, and signed my dog up for a ridiculously expensive pet relocation program because everyone hates pit mixes even though they’re literally the best dogs ever. Then I had second thoughts — partially around money (I’d vastly underestimated the Italian tax system), partially around being so far friends and family. Things came up and I wanted to be there for the people around me. Isn’t that what Italian culture is best known for anyway?
After lots of confusing tears, I canceled my move.
I traveled, I moved again, I traveled some more, I crashed. (I was going to say I crashed at my mother’s, but just “crashed” seems really appropriate, too.)
I have a hunch on where I want to go next, but I’m waiting. Sometimes things need to germinate a bit before you share them with the world. That’s a lesson courtesy of year 28, thank you very much.
In the course of the past year, I:
- I visited Brazil, on my 28th birthday, and celebrated with some of my favorite people in the world. That was one of the most meaningful trips I’ve ever taken, for so many reasons. I felt so open to possibility at that time and it was the first time I felt any doubt about moving to Italy, which was necessary, because it’s useful to question what you want, all the time, even if you’ve wanted it for the better part of a decade. Plus, Brazil is the most beautiful place in the world.
- I got, and used, my Italian passport. More than once! Including an odd interaction with a Lufthansa agent who said he’d just “believe me” when I said I was American too while boarding a flight back to the States because I’d shown the wrong passport. Apparently I have a believable face.
- I visited Orlando, and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter (butterbeer! magic wands! roller coasters!), with some really good friends. I also had difficult, emotional, eye-opening, and hilarious conversations with said friends that planted seeds for what I wanted to do next now that Italy was out of the picture.
- Then I traveled to Germany, and traveled alone in a country where I didn’t speak the language for the first time. I hardly spoke, it was fantastic. (Though, I wish I loved Berlin as much as everybody else seems to.)
- I danced my heart out with more friends in Philadelphia in my effort to scope out the city for my next move. (Friends are the best.) I subsequently moved to Philadelphia, and then moved out of Philadelphia. As my mother puts it, I “took my furniture on a vacation.” (Pro-tip: don’t do that.)
- I cried as I moved my final box back into storage. (Pro-tip: do that if it makes you feel better.)
- I went to Sedona and the Grand Canyon with my mother. We had some good, tough conversations on that trip, as well. Moms are good for helping you figure out your life.
- I made plans to have said mom watch my dog for two months while I tried to take some time to figure out what I wanted next. Started daydreaming.
- I went to Spain and Vienna with my coworker for two whole weeks and enjoyed new parts of Europe. We spoke together at WordCamp Europe, which was even more frightening than WordCamp US, but went even better. So now I want to do that some more.
- I subsequently went to a conference in California where I visited LA for the first time and was shocked with how much I loved the city. Am I still allowed to be a Jersey girl now? Will they blockade my arrival at the Holland Tunnel?
- I booked a place to stay in Bali, which fell through. I subsequently booked a place in Spain, which fell through as well. I finally gave in to divine fate after having booked a flight from Vancouver to Los Angeles after the Automattic Grand Meetup. I wasn’t planning to stay in LA, but thought it’d be cheaper to get to Bali from there. Now, I’ll be in Los Angeles for those two “figure out life” months.
- I signed up for classes (namely, Presence) that honor my new age-y, crystal-loving inner self because that’s a part of who I am. It’s been eye-opening, already. There’s something about just monitoring the emotions you’re feeling, when you feel them, and how they make you feel that’s surprisingly enlightening, even though it doesn’t always feel like hard work.
- Subsequently, I find myself embracing the idea of conflict more. I’ve always been a people pleaser, afraid to voice my opinions lest it hurt someone else’s feelings. Slowly, I’m accepting the idea that conflict is more caring and loving than lying to someone about how you really feel. (Important note: being honest isn’t always a conflict.)
- I focused less on yoga, and more on weightlifting. For the first time in my life, I’m able to (mostly) look at my body in terms of what it can do and how I can power it. That’s huge for me. I’m so grateful that I found an activity that helps me focus more on growing (i.e. strength), rather than losing (i.e. size/weight/etc).
- I also signed up for my first personal training session at this amazing gym in NYC and felt all kinds of feels about being in the space and challenging myself. Plus, they had a dog. It sounds like a small thing, but really, it was enlightening in terms of what I want to focus on, now and for the future.
I’m going into 29 so confused still, and it’s okay. I’ve often heard people joke that as they get older, they care what other people think less and less. I always thought I didn’t really care what other people thought, but there’s a different type of shift. It’s more that I don’t care if I’m liked. I notice myself saying what I think more. I find myself wanting to embrace that honesty, even if it’s difficult at times.
I always try very hard to come across as smart, put together, organized. I’m not though. I can be productive at work, but simultaneously stuck in my head playing volleyball with the same thoughts about where to live for hours. I get down on myself. I feel pressure for not wanting kids, not wanting to be married. 30 is supposed to be that magical number, right?
And yet, it’s like that Nayirrah Waheed poem. “Respond to rejection by being more you.”
I feel pressure. I feel scared. I feel unsure of myself. If I say it out loud, it’s not such a scary, ominous, overpowering thing any more. Nope. It’s just a feeling and a sensation. It’s my truth.
In other words, I’m grateful for another year. Bring on 30 for the next one. As my ever-wise and unassumingly funny mom always says, “It’s better than the alternative.”