On Sunday I turned 30. People keep asking me how I feel about it. They look at me knowingly with a little head tilt or a nudge like at any moment I might just breakdown and lose it. In reality, I haven’t given 30 much thought. Not until this week. This week it occurred to me that I am saying goodbye to my 20s.
I loved my 20s. I graduated from college. I graduated from law school. I learned to chug beer and do a keg stand. I learned to love beer that did not require you to stand on a keg to inhale. I pulled all nighters – for school, for work, for the joy of discovering new things about old friends. I lived in two different cities and seven different apartments. I lived with my best friends – first, in college with six women who challenge me every day to be a better version of myself, and then, after college with two women who love me even at my worst. I fell in love – with people, cities, ideas, books, the law. I fell out of love – with people, cities, ideas, books, the law. I watched people I love get married, move away, start careers, have babies. I lost friends when these life milestones created a distance that seemed too big to fill. I reconnected with these same friends when time, maturity, perspective, and wine allowed us to open our hearts to each other again. I bought a house. I adopted a dog. I learned how to share my house with a man. I learned to fight for what I believed in. I learned to fight for myself. I learned to stand up for myself. Then, I learned how to do that in a constructive and respectful way. I learned that life exists in shades of grey. I learned to challenge my privilege and that of the people around me. I cannot begin to quantify in any meaningful way the amount of change and growth that I experienced in my 20s.
I realized this week, as it suddenly dawned on me that I was turning 30, that I am not afraid of aging (I have a really good night cream). I am sad. I am grieving my 20s. I will miss late nights with my roommates snuggled four in a bed made for two. I will miss each of the apartments – even the crappy ones with the unethical landlords. I will miss the feeling of opening a new legal textbook for the first time. I will miss all the firsts that come from a decade of growing up. I will miss all the opportunity and unknown that my 20s presented.
Because here is the other thing, I have realized – not just this week but over the past several months – 22 year-old me would be shocked my 29-year old me. Don’t get me wrong, she’d be impressed by my decorating aesthetic and my ability to get a great deal on a case of wine. But, she’d be dismayed that I am not living my passion. I went to college and law school with this sense that I could change the world; that I could affect social change. I became a lawyer because I knew that the law could be a force for good. But, as I approach 30, I am uninspired. I see people all around me doing and creating work that sparks a flame in me. But I cannot say the same of my own work. Looking back on this decade I loved, I see clearly the choices that brought me to this place. I am not sure what drove me to make them. But, I see the paths I took.
I refuse to accept that this is the only path. Just as my 20s started out with great unknown and opportunity so too will my 30s. I celebrated this new year and new decade surrounded by creative, outspoken, fierce, ambitious women who love and support me. I am surrounded by people who inspire me. I will allow myself to grieve my 20s. But I will also challenge myself to channel the inspiration around me and use my 30s to reclaim my passion. I will find a way to make 22-year-old me proud and even a little bit jealous.