This, my friend, is my 30 year old face. My birthday a few weeks ago marked the end of my twenties. If you're not quite there yet and feeling apprehensive, let me reassure you, the world doesn't end when you turn 3-0.
I spent - often feel like I wasted - so much of my teens and 20s feeling incredible pressure to achieve a certain standard by the time I reached a certain age. For years I carried so much worry and shame about not yet being where I thought I should be... and it was all so unnecessary. The worst thing is, I did this to myself.
I had some crazy idea that by the time I finished my twenties if I didn't have the steady job, the house, the student debts paid, the husband, a kid or two, then...I don't know what I thought, my world would implode? I would be deemed insufficient as a human? Not enough to satisfy societal demands, somehow a failure?
It has made me feel miserable a lot of the time. Carrying around constant guilt is exhausting and all the worry about the future often stops me from being fully present to enjoy the moments I'm experiencing right now.
I've also been a little bit terrified of getting old. Sometimes I find myself browsing the anti-ageing products in the pharmacy, checking for lines at the corners of my eyes and mouth, anxiously poking at the undersides of my arms, and exclaiming at how I can't make it through a double-header of nights out any more. I've identified for so long with being "young". My whole life I've always been that cute young girl with endless energy and a bouncy personality. Now if I'm not so young any more, if my young girl identity is peeling away, who's left underneath?
Well here I am, finally 30 (I actually sort of thought it would never happen to me. Super rational, I know). Not a single one of those expectations has been met yet, I can't eat the amounts of chocolate I used to without putting on pounds, and I'm in bed by 9:30 most nights. But you know what, it's not as bad as I thought. Actually I'm kind of liking it.
I've heard it said that we spend our twenties figuring out who we are and our thirties becoming more of that person. I hope with my heart this is true.
I spent so much of my twenties trying on hats and seeing what fit, all the while worried about outcomes and perceptions. By now I've added a few notches of experience and wisdom to my belt since my youthful days of alternately experimenting and crusading. Yet the more I learn, it seems, the less I know. Maybe that's part of the wisdom. I'm finally ready to step into my skin, to stand in my place, comfortable with what I know and what I don't, confident that ultimately I'm on the right path despite daily tribulations. I'm ready to believe in my own perfect imperfection.
Life continues on as normal after turning 30. This is still the beginning of a long winding journey and there's no manual for how to go. Where I am is exactly where I am supposed to be in this moment, and I believe 100% that the same is true for you. There is value available in every experience should you choose to take it. But holding expectations that don't match reality, or worrying about the future, onlyrobs us of the ability to see what is being offered. In any case, who cares at what age you get kids or a house?
For that matter, who cares about laughter lines and saggy arms? While society obsesses over adolescent beauty, we miss the gorgeous elegance of maturity. There is beauty at every age. Ageing is an opportunity to grow into more of yourself, to bloom more fully with resilience at your roots. Let this ageing be an summons to treat yourself with more care, regard yourself more kindly, treat yourself more lovingly like the precious treasure that you are.
As I enter this next decade of life, I am dedicated to letting go of the shame that shadowed my twenties. Shame is such a waste of time and a vacuum of energy. Of all the emotions available to us, shame might be one of the most useless and destructive ones. So I am committed to stepping into my thirties with the kind of easy going confidence that comes from knowing you've got your own back. I am committed to showing up for myself. I choose to see my own value and no longer let my fears of insufficiency steal my sunshine.
If you're early in your twenties, please, give yourself the grace to just be where you are. Try not to let expectations - yours or others' - crowd in on the experience.
If you're nearing the age of your thirties and feeling anxious, let it roll off your back, there's nothing to sweat. Most "supposed to's" and "shoulds" are arbitrary anyway. Nothing you've done or haven't done has any bearing on your intrinsic worth as a human. It's just one more step on this beautiful trip.
Namaste my love.