December 17, 2013 by nooffensebut
Tuesday was my birthday.
I’m not sure when I started feeling a little let down each year on March 29, but somewhere along the line I did. I know it has a lot more to do with not feeling like I’m where I’m “supposed to be” in life than it does with not having anyone offer to throw me a party.
So here I am, newly 31, which really does feel older than 30, and a whole lot older than “in my 20s,” and I don’t have any of the things I thought I’d have by now — a husband, a child, a mortgage, enough money in the bank to send my parents on a trip for their upcoming 35th anniversary — and once again, I’m learning to accept that it’s OK. The only one who is focusing on any sort of a timeline is me (and possibly my mother, if she wants grandchildren).
A 2010 New York Times article, titled “What is it about 20-somethings?” made reference to “emerging adulthood” and “the age 30 deadline,” an idea that certain things in life have to happen by the time you’re 30. Otherwise … what?
What’s that expression? Life is what happens when you’re busy making plans? I had plans. I was going to be married at 25. I would have Baby No. 1 at 28. By 30, I’d own a house. Right now, I should be pregnant with Baby No. 2 and writing for national publications.
Like I said, I had plans.
But life happened. Happens. Is happening. And not exactly according to my plan. I don’t feel like an emerging adult. I’m certainly not done growing — none of us are, otherwise what’s the purpose of living past 30 — but I’m grown up. My adulthood became official when I had the frightening epiphanies that a) I don’t know everything; b) my life does not necessarily revolve around me or what I want; and c) I can’t dictate how my life is going to go.
But every year, before I can move forward into a new age, I have a few days of regression in which I have to remind myself of these things, especially the last one.
I’m not alone. I have friends who try to do the same thing, oftentimes with relationships. You know — “I’m not going to get seriously involved with anyone until I’ve made my first million.” “He’ll be successful, but only as successful as I am, not more so.” Or, “I’m going to be married by 30, come hell or high water.”
It doesn’t really work that way. Sometimes I wish it did. But for all the Plans and Ideas that haven’t come to fruition, things are going well. I have a good job, my health, friends, family, somebody to love, and… OK, the money could be better, but no reasonable person gets into journalism to strike it rich. I’m not where I thought I would be, but I’m all right.
Thirty-one, eh? I can do this. But if I’m approaching 35 and… OK, yeah, I’ll stop now.
Originally published April 1, 2011 in the Chattanooga Times Free Press
An email from a co-worker:
“Your column tomorrow is so fucking good.”
Every time I read one of your columns, and right after saying, “right
on, sister!”, I have all the best intentions to
pop you an email. Good intentions seem to give way to putting out
the daily fires. Just thought about you and thought
I’d actually sit down and WRITE you!
That said, you are such an intelligent, well-informed writer and I
ALWAYS agree with your point of view! Which must mean that you are
Seriously, it’s so nice to have such an open-minded journalist and in
our own local paper. To my way of thinking, there are too many
right-wingers getting too much publicity these days and you bring a
ray of liberal sunshine into my life.
Thanks for being you and for being HERE!
I read your column today as I do every Friday and I wanted to tell you that you are not alone. I am 33, single, in college still, and I live with my parents still. Trust me, this is not where I thought I would be. I have a son from a previous relationship but I have a lot of help caring for him because of school and my inability to find work right now. I thought I’d have my own everything by now. My own family. My own house. A career. Instead here I am at 33 living with my parents. Attending school with a bunch of kids I can’t relate to at all. It’s not something I brag about. I have always wanted to write to you but never knew what I would say. You’re a very attractive woman and I’m sorry your friends didn’t throw you a birthday party. Don’t worry the only people who noticed my birthday was my immediate family as well. You might be thinking who is this loser writing me but I just wanted you to know that you aren’t alone in how you feel right now.