Wednesday, March 05, 2008

The Third decade...

My 30th birthday is approaching, and since several people have asked me how I am going to celebrate, it has been on my mind. Thirty seems to be a significant milestone for a lot of people. It marks the end of the twenties, which in some ways thrusts us suddenly into adulthood if we weren't already there. What is adulthood anyway? When I was in high school, I heard that when I turned 18, I was considered a legal adult. I don't recall ever feeling like an adult and maybe that's because I didn't know what that was supposed to feel like. My parents were adults, but I certainly didn't feel like them. So I thought that maybe moving out on my own and going to college would make me an adult, but I just became more responsible, which didn't necessarily result in feeling like an adult. It seemed that I kept placing all these mile markers on my path to adulthood and with each one, adulthood still seems eons away. Turning 25, moving across country, first real job, moving to New York with no job and no idea what was to become of me. Nope, still not an adult. Marriage most assuredly would make me feel like an adult, but I don't feel any more adult now than I did 2 years ago. I might be a little wiser, less selfish and better at budgets but that doesn't equal adulthood. Is thirty the magic number? Is it children? Or is being an adult just something you are by default of age and circumstance regardless of how you feel? Thirty.

I wish that when I said "the third decade" that would be in reference to the upcoming decade, but I am actually about to embark on the fourth decade. Yikes. But looking back at the third decade, it certainly was the time I grew the most. From birth to 10 is probably one of the greatest learning periods of one's life. We learn to eat, walk, talk, read, do math, write, tie our shoes... all the basic and fundamental necessities of survival as a human being. From 11-20, we begin to explore who we are and learn more about what we want and like and what it means to be us. It's tumultuous for some and painful for others, but then we enter the glorious 20s. Everything about the 20s seems fun, exciting and glamorous. We are on our own, increasing our knowledge, getting jobs, learning about the so-called "real world", managing our own finances, experiencing all that life has to offer. Some get married, start having kids and buying homes while others travel, move to different places and feast on whatever opportunities happen to meet them. It's great and wonderful and heart breaking. In some ways it is a more sophisticated and complicated extension of the teenage years. By this time, most of us have probably figured out who we really are and come to understand what we really want out of life. That can be a difficult process and just when we think we have come out of it gracefully we are faced with... thirty.

I used to think this was a daunting age because there are a lot of societal, cultural and personal expectations placed on us. We are supposed to have started our nest egg by 30. Perhaps gotten married and had a couple of kids. Maybe we should own our first home or be settled in our career. For many people who are not experiencing one or all of those things facing the thirtieth birthday can fill them with dread and, in some cases, feelings of inadequacy and failure. I used to tell myself that I would take a trip to Africa for my 30th birthday. It is apparent that is not going to happen for this thirtieth birthday, and so be it. I do not own my first home, nor do I feel incredibly pleased/satisfied/successful in my career, and I barely have the first miniscule components that will eventually become my nest egg. But I do not feel threatened by this birthday. Perhaps it is because it is just a number and does not define who I am. I don't feel thirty, whatever that is supposed to feel like. I just feel like me. I have not even been married for a year and do not have any children, yet. But as I look back on the past three decades I can say honestly that I would not change it. I would not have wanted it to be any different and I would not have wanted to walk an easier or alternative road. I actually like the one I have traveled despite how difficult or impossible it may have seemed at times. I have no idea what the next year is going to be like or even the next 5 years, but it doesn't matter because I am comfortable in my own skin, in my own abilities. I also have a wonderful husband who has changed my life for the better. It just keeps getting better.

So bring on 30 and everything it has to offer. I have no doubt that this decade will be better than the last. I'm not sure the feeling of "adulthood" is in the cards, but if it hasn't come by now then I hope it never does.

8 comments:

Beth&Cody said...

I have always looked forward to turning 30 as the moment when I would be seen as a real adult. A mature person who would be taken seriously and have control of her life. I felt I was getting close but the other day a rental car person asked me if I was over 25 and I thought to myself, "Don't I look older and wiser like a real adult should look?!" I guess it's just a number and your age is defined by your attitude...and I say I'm a real adult so there!

Tamara said...

Welcome to the the world of 30 something. I still don't feel any different. What are you going to do for your birthday?

Scotty Sarah Asher Graham said...

I have to be honest. I also feel those same feelings about being 30. I don't know why. But don't worry, you don't look a day over 22 :) SArah

familia Bybaran said...

Thanks for your thoughts on 30! I will make the cross-over on April 3rd. I'm actually excited. It was great to see you last night.

Nate and Lalani said...

Nik,

Happy early b-day:) I have to say that i loved your reflections and i agree with your sentiments on becoming an adult. I also should say that for all my rantings about turning 30 it is great and I so far, have loved this new decade and know you will too!

Naomi and Josh Davis said...

yay! happy birthday early nikki. i have heard good things about the age 30... and not that it matters or really has anything to do with this, but the movie 13 going on 30 with jennifer garner is one of my favorites. this just reminded me...

Tamara said...

Yay!!! 30 has been my best year so far! Congrats Nikki! I can't wait for ya!
:)

Nicole Cave said...

Yep we are all turning 30 and looking younger than ever:)