Well, today is my birthday. It’s not quite what I expected. I spent the day running errands and packing boxes and fretting about whether my move is going to be impacted by a monster hurricane (go away, Irma!!). I’m going out to dinner with my boyfriend in a little while, and I noshed on cake and got a nice wave of Facebook notifications, so in some ways it is a typical birthday. Of course, this is one of the Big Ones. I think that, especially for women, society puts you in a different category once you hit 30. It’s silly and demeaning and entirely untrue, but I am a product of my own society and so, whether or not I want to feel that way, I do have tendrils of concern about my body as an aging commodity. Being young is not an accomplishment, but having it taken away feels like a punishment.
I never thought I would feel any differently about being 30. I’ve read enough hot takes about “30 is the new 20” and known enough amazing women in their 30s (and beyond) to know that my life can continue to be rich and rewarding. But I did end up feeling more of a pause than I expected last night. I really thought about how, if I live to be 90, then the first third of my life is over. And for reasons I don’t want to go into detail about, I don’t have much hope for the last third of my life (Alzheimer’s risk, basically). So this is it. I’ve started the middle 30 years, where I should be old enough to bring experience and knowledge to the table but young enough that I can still think with a clear mind and (mostly) rely on my body even through some heavy demands. And that feels like a lot of pressure!
I should be reaching my prime, now. But am I? I’m about to throw away most of my professional life and go start back at what is essentially square one. I’m about to leave a boyfriend who I’ve been with for almost six years (no, we’re not breaking up, but introducing long distance again for the next 5 years is certainly a relationship strain). I’m still struggling to break into an industry that I don’t seem to have the IT factor for. Do I even know what I want to spend these prime years doing? Probably not.
But, all in all, it’s okay. This path may meander and it may climb and plummet, but it’s my life and I will walk it with my head held high, take the joy when I can and console the sorrows when I must. And that is the same whether I’m 17 and desperately running around the USNA campus in the summer heat or I’m 24 and getting a divorce or I’m 30 and moving on my own to a new city, new field, and new branch of my life’s path.