I told myself years ago, I refused to fear turning thirty. When I was twenty-seven (much to the slight annoyance of my husband over the ongoing three years), I began mentally rounding my age up to thirty. Once I was twenty-eight, would round to thirty when asked about my age, unless my specific age was relevant. I figured this would make the closure of my twentieth decade less unsettling.
It isn’t that I am particularly excited about the impending 3-0. It is that I have heard repeatedly, from friends and acquaintances that thirty hits hard (especially for women, since our culture refuses to acknowledge that women can, and should, age).
I had set vague goals for my artistic career when I was twenty-five. At that point, thirty still seemed relatively far away, and thus plenty of time to continue to develop my potential art career. However, for the first two years after setting my rather imprecise objectives, I did little except continue to make art when the mood struck and occasionally submit to art exhibitions. At twenty-seven, I realized thirty was less far off than I thought, and I took my goals more seriously. I began to add art to my daily life. Every. Single. Day. I did something, usually something small like a daily blog post, working on visual journal pages, reading articles or checking exhibition opportunity listings. This actively kept art and my ambitions in the forefront of my mind. I set a goal of three submissions a month, a goal I usually tried (and succeeded) to exceed.
At twenty-eight, I read The Artist’s Way (Julia Cameron), and re-read Taking the Leap (Cay Lang). This was also the age I began to trying embrace my own unique style of art, and no longer concern myself with what art was perceived as ideal for sales, popular for a niche market, or what others told me my art should look like. I simply began to make my art, for me, for the love of art, because of my strange intrinsic need to create and I just kept trying to put it out into the world. Because of this, over the past few years, I have found a new contentedness with my work, a deep love and appreciation of the artistic process, and my mind feels more at ease with the pressures and rejections of an artistic career. Losing myself and embracing the style of art I instinctively create has helped me find a form of peace from the inevitable angst of artistic ambitions.
I guess, my point is, no, I am not exactly excited about being in my thirties. I’m not. However, I am certainly not upset about it either.
In reality, I really like being an adult. I love it. Yes, I have bills, rent, taxes and I have to do boring things, like fuel my car, buy groceries, do dishes, take out the trash, fold laundry and all those other mundane chores that gradually become introduced throughout our adolescent lives–but then–before you realize it, BAM! You are a moderately self-sustaining human–for the most part. I love being an adult. I feel like I fit into my life now. At my age, I am comfortable with myself. I like to dance, so I tend to dance a lot–and I am not good. Dancing is fun. Dancing badly is even more fun. Fact.
As I grow older, I embrace so many more simple things that make me happy. I love my funky plastic framed glasses, and bright colors in my hair. I have tattoos, and I really like them. When I get old, yes, they will not look great, but neither will the rest of me.
I love that I have more confidence in my movements. I am tall, and no longer shrink away from that. I hold my shoulders back, and I make eye contact with the strangers who make comments about my stature when they think I am out of earshot. (Not in a mean way–just that sort of– Yes, I am tall, but seriously, you are four feet away. Of course, I can hear you talking about me.) I still have lingering social anxiety, and I’m nervous when faced with unfamiliar situations. But I have learned to embrace those uncomfortable experiences as learning opportunities.
I love that my parents are still my parents, they are loving and supportive. Yet, the more I age, the more I find myself laughing with them as friends. We have more genuine conversations, and exchange ideas. We can disagree, and it is fine–because we are all reasonable adults. They love me, and they are proud of the human I have become.
The older I get, the more I realize, I don’t have to let people into my life. That sounds cold–I don’t mean this in a pessimistic way. I have grown (from past bad experiences) and I can recognize the warning signs. I am able to maintain civil, kind interactions with people while avoiding the unnecessary drama some people inevitably crave. I don’t have to be friends with everyone. Human interactions aren’t all or nothing. If someone isn’t my friend, that doesn’t make him/her an enemy. We simply exist on different terns.
I take comfort in the knowledge, that while close friends will move in and out of my direct geographical location, they will always be a part of my life–a part of my past, shaping the human I am now, making me better for knowing them. Miles and miles of ocean, different cities, states and even continents won’t erase their love. I know now, I will find new humans who are loving, fun, kind and respectful–eventually, wherever my life leads me.
I have found many convictions I intentionally hold close to my heart, defining me as the person I want to be in this world. In turn, I know this world has so much more I don’t know. I know I can be (and am) wrong–a lot. And that is completely okay.
Yes. I have almost been in existence for thirty years. Yes, it makes me reflect back on how those years have been spent. However, I am good. And when I am not good–I am trying. I am twenty-nine for two more months. However, I refuse to fear turning thirty.
Wisdom’s a gift, but you’d trade it for youth. Age is an honor, it’s still not the truth. -Vampire Weekend