I just finished my 30th year, (Happy Birthday to me!) and I’m well aware that 30 was supposed to be tough.
People expected me to suddenly feel a rush of aging.
People might have expected me to mourn the loss of my twenties.
A few wrote hopeful little “30 is the new 20!” messages on my timeline.
These feelings probably run through all of us in varying degrees.
But, I wrote a lot of my twenties down. I remember them through the pages, so I don’t feel like I’m losing them.
Plus, while I love how my life grew during those years, looking over my writings from my twenties, the one thing I see that I needed, again and again, was 30-year-old me.
For example, I will have to go on a trip alone for the first time in 9 years. My husband and I have been road trip people since we married. This will be the first time that I’ve had to handle a flight/hotel/adventure on my own since I was 22.
So, when I was planning my trip, all of my 22-year-old issues starting rushing back to me.
When I was in my early twenties, I studied abroad for a session with the UNC honor’s program. It was a great opportunity. We split our time between London and Oxford while studying theater and Shakespeare.
Such a wonderful trip in so many ways.
Also, incredibly difficult.
I had never been on a plane before.
I had never had to deal with passport checks, security procedures, layover problems, missed flights, and exchanging currency.
I did it all, except the initial airport drop off and final pick up, alone.
While I struggled, while I fought to overcome a tidal wave of unprepared ignorance in order to survive the trip, what I desperately, tears-in-my-eyes, wished to have was a traveling companion who knew what the hell she was doing to show me the way.
It occurred to me the other day.
That’s me now. That’s 30-year-old me.
If I were to see a young woman looking lost and alone at the check-in counter at the airport, being told she was sold a problematic ticket, had thus missed her impossible flight, and would have to wait 12 hours for the next one, I would know what to say.
I could help someone through that.
And this new self-assured experience carries over in other ways.
20-year-old me almost broke a middle-aged dude’s hand on that first flight. He turned into an octopus when we were sky-high. I was so proud of myself for strong arming him and finally getting him to leave me alone.
30-year-old me, though, would have started with the pulling his fingers back to his wrist, then stood up and reported his ass, so he would think twice before ever doing that to another woman.
24-year-old me thought she was the worst mama in the world, as I struggled to take care of my first newborn.
Now, I know I was just a regular mom fed a myth about “good” moms. Now, I’m on the lookout for new moms who need to be told how good of a job they’re doing.
My twenties were about learning to take care of myself, then learning to take care of my family. At this point, though, I have those things pretty well in hand. It’s a lot easier to think about others, now.
I’m saying hello to 31, today. As someone officially on the other side of 30, I am happy, proud, and relieved to report that, for me, 30 was not the new 20.