Well, I’ve made it. Another year around the sun. Another 365 days of ups and downs, laughter and tears, deep depressions and manic outpouring of not-so-situationaly-appropriate glee. It has been a year of growth and change, saying goodbye to one job and another, embarking on a shaky yet exciting advancement in my career; moving in – finally – with my boyfriend of 8 years; losing my grandfather and attending my first funeral; and — starting — to accept that aging is going to happen, and is happening, to my own flesh despite still wanting to believe that I’m forever-young invincible.
So I have 1/32 of a grey hair now, a few more wrinkles in my forehead due to my chronic state of worry, and a couple of more breaths between freak outs to remind myself I’ve been in those unpleasant shoes before and managed to survive to see another happy day. I’ve taken steps to seek the right kind of help — hired an ADHD coach — focusing on treating the symptoms vs the root cause of my psyche which, no matter how well I psychoanalyze and understand, is never going to dramatically change. I guess you can say at 31 I’ve accepted that I have a chronic condition known as “me.”
Am I 100% satisfied with myself? God no. I have a lot of work to do. I’m always pushing myself to improve all while pondering how that may be possible given my constant state of neurosis. I’m longing to become a mother despite being terrified of how that fits in with this life I’ve managed to create for myself as a business executive and otherwise responsibility-free adult, all things considered – no mortgage, no car payments, no kids, no debts – just save, save, save, and push through the lows so I can try my best to enjoy the highs. It’s the best I’ve been able do so far, but I still have a lot to give and still have a lot of getting my shit together to do.
10 years ago I had this crazy goal to save $250,000 by age 30. I didn’t really think far past that, other than a seemingly impossible objective to save $500k before I have my first child. At the time I had $10k in the bank and didn’t even have a boyfriend so it was all a crapshoot of dreams. Today I have my guy and I’m nearing a solid $300k in networth as I say hello to 31. I’m in a good spot to achieve my $500k before my first kid goal. On paper my life is pretty damn spiffy. But every day is still a struggle with all the highs and lows.
In my 30s, now that I’m actually “in” my 30s vs just starting them, I want to achieve some kind of stability. Perhaps this means medication is a requirement vs a nice to have, but I need to find consistency in my routines and slow down enough to find serenity in the everyday. Perhaps I can do that. As opposed to my 20s and before when I longed for a bit of a crazy, uncertain, constantly changing life, now I yearn for consistency, routine, and regularity. I know I’ve always hungered for the later but a fear of not picking the right route of settling down kept me bouncing from one path to the next. I was terribly lost and only the rush of impractical choice would make me feel momentarily alive and free – but the lack of stability punched me in the gut day after day after day. In my 30s I’ll admit open heartedly that I’m tired of trying to be different and letting a fear of being “just like everyone else” run my life. Maybe being just like everyone else… (even though that’s not really possible anyway) is not that bad.
What’s throwing me off most tonight is that I graduated college in 2005 when I was 21. It was easy to accept 10 years removed since high school graduation — high school was the end of my childhood — but college… that doesn’t seem that far in the past in many respects. In others it seems like a lifetime ago. Still, it was actually 10 years ago. 10 years ago at this time I was in my senior year, falling into a very dark depression that I’d spring out of only after moving to the west coast and pushing through a year of one failure after another, picking my pieces up again every time I fell apart. Senior year of college is a blur – I was lonely, confused, unsure of where I was headed, and just trying to give myself some framework to follow, some sign to guide the way. I had just returned from my first trip abroad, a summer in eastern europe studying and traveling, and continued a relationship with my boyfriend at the time who had moved to a city on the east coast for the year, and who I visited fairly frequently as a treat to escape my life and throw myself squarely into his which I never did fit. It took a move to the west coast and a serious heart-to-heart shortly following the move that we mutually agreed we weren’t right for each other. And there I was, completely alone, with no framework or guide or must-do for life’s next steps. All I knew was that I couldn’t fail – permanently. I had to get up and keep going. And so I did.
Well, so now I’m 31. I have a goal to have my first child by 34 at the latest and the fact that that’s three years away probably scares me the most… especially because 34 isn’t even a “young” age to have a kid and I’d like to have at least two. It’s crazy how fast time flies once you’re in your mid 20s. I guess it’s strange because childhood is this extremely slow moving set of years where you’re growing and learning so quickly that every day can seem like a millennium… and suddenly you’re thrust through a magnetic launcher and boom you’re rapidly accelerating towards the rest of forever and you can’t stop it… you just have to try to breathe and appreciate the sights and sounds and wonder as you rapidly approach the end of your ride. I’m sure I’ll feel the same way at 35 and 40 and 50 and 60 and beyond, and even more so. And miss the days when time was long, the nights where the sun seemed like it would never set, the mornings rushing out the door and chasing after the school bus in excitement because of a certain topic to be discussed in class or an after school activity to be held that day.
My goal for this year is to find some sort of similar excitement in my life again -in a sane, healthy way. I’ve lost a sense of happiness, a sense of wonder, a sense of joy. Life has become a calculator of finances and hours in the day to fill with work and getting stuff done. While these are first world, middle class problems they are my problems nonetheless. I’m looking to establish my own independent sense of adventure and peace with solitude. I know this year will bring about lots of change, perhaps more than the shifts in the last 365 days, and I hope I’m ready for it. I approach my 31st year with wide eyes, an open heart and an open mind. Come on 31, bring it.