On Turning Thirty – V.1

Milestones are constructed to provide reference points along the road. This can be used to reassure travellers that the proper path is being followed, and to indicate either distance travelled or the remaining distance to a destination.

I’ve come to a milestone, which means now i can take a gander backward at how far i’ve come, and also forward at how far i have yet to travel. Except that’s the tricky thing about life; you never know how much farther you have to go.

I think what i’ve done so far is pretty darn alright. I’ve made a lot of sensible choices, and i’m in a good comfortable place. In fact, i may be a little too sensible for my own good. I’ve never taken any big risks, and because of that i’ve never done anything terribly notable. There are just two things i regret so far, though: everything i’ve ever done and everything i’ve ever said. Just kidding. The two things are: not talking to people more, and not creating more. It’s true, you regret the things you didn’t do, not the things you did.

I’m trying to find balance in my life right now. I have plenty of free time, and yet i feel like i never have enough. I can never get enough time to travel and read and create. I devote pathetically little time to creating, which is why i never write on this blog anymore. I’ve got to change that somehow. I keep deleting things from my life in an attempt to create more time: less facebook, less twitter, less sleeping (ha), less shopping, less going out. I’m even making a meager effort to cut back on my possessions, since more space and things just means more time organizing and cleaning. Yet my house is always dirty. And i never have time to create.

The number one reason for this problem is that i tend to fill whatever time i do manage to carve out with reading instead of creating. I set reading goals for myself on Goodreads and i earn my annual badge faithfully, and i absolutely can’t stand to read fewer books each year rather than more. So i’m up to 30 per year now, and i can’t bring myself to back off from that. If only i could read faster! I am trying, kind of, to learn.

I say “create” because it isn’t just writing that i’d like to do more of. There are all kinds of things that i wish i had time to create: stories and drawings and sewing and food and books. Making things with my hands is like a meditation for me, and i know that that’s an important thing that i should make time to do.

But aside from that dilemma, i’m in a good place. I’m healthy, happily married, financially comfortable, and i have good relationships with my family and friends. I’m happy right now. I was unhappy mere months ago – weeks, if we’re being honest – but i think i have a sort of backwards Seasonal Affective Disorder, where i feel the least happy when things are warming and sunnying up, and then i start to feel so much happier this time of year when things are starting to head in the direction of fall. It’s strange. But, it’s just my truth. I’m glad that i’ve gotten to a place where i can see that what i’m feeling on a given day has very little to do with the external world, and almost everything to do with the particular chemical cocktail going on in my brain. There are small things i can do to affect it, but not big ones. And it’s not quite so severe that i need the help of drugs to get by.

Thirty. What is it about thirty that makes people so uncomfortable? This is the age where people kiss youth goodbye, i think. We’re undoubtedly adults now. We’re on our own two feet. We’ve reached a point for which we set certain goals for ourselves, for whatever reason, and we’re forced to take note now of whether those goals have been met. I’ve watched slightly older friends of mine hang their heads upon turning 30 because they aren’t where they expected to be: they’re unmarried, they don’t have their dream job, they still haven’t gotten that terminal degree. Their names will never appear on a “Thirty Under Thirty” list now. And i told them that thirty is just a number, and that if you think about it, it’s only significant because humans have ten fingers and therefore chose a decimal system of numbering. If we had twelve, i mused, we might not assess these things until the age of thirty-six.

There are things i’m disappointed about, too. I haven’t created any of the things i wanted to create when i was younger: a book of poetry, an album, a piece of art worthy of a hipster’s dormitory wall. And i wish i were an easier person to have a relationship with, but that stuff runs so deep in my personality that regretting it is simply an act of self-loathing. I’m never going to throw my hands up and stop trying to be a better person, but being hard on myself about my shortcomings is only going to be counterproductive. God knows there are a hundred phone calls i should’ve made in my lifetime and didn’t, but all i can do now is let them go and try to make the next call.

As far as wanting to create something, i am going to. I can feel it. It might not ever reach the hands of more than a dozen people, but no matter. I will create for the sake of creating, just as soon as i figure out the right way to balance my time. Maybe i could cut back to 25 books per year, much as it pains me to do so. Or eight hours of sleep per night, even on the weekends. 🙂 I am a firm believer in unique biology, though, so i’m not making any promises on that one. I need more sleep than the average person, i swear. The internet says that is a thing, and i believe it.

My twenties were a lot of fun, and also really sad at times. I fell in love and got married, and that’s pretty hard to beat. I was laid off three times in as many years. I lost three of my four grandparents, and for a moment i felt the absolute terror of potentially losing my brother. I went to Europe twice, I honeymooned in Cancun, i made some friends that i know i’ll have for the rest of my life. But i think my thirties will actually be better. I may soon get to be an auntie to a little person who will live very nearby. And i think i’m going to get this balance thing figured out and start creating again. I’m probably going to travel to more amazing places, and deepen the relationships that already exist in my life. There will be rough times. I think a couple of the people i love will stumble, and i hope to be a source of strength for them. It’s statistically likely that i will live beyond the next decade. It’ll be interesting to see how the world changes. Things are warming up, and i fear for the planet but i think the political climate is actually improving very gradually, despite what all the clamoring on facebook might lead one to believe. I don’t care about it as much as my eighteen-year-old self would’ve wanted me to. But that’s true of a lot of things.

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