Thirty, Sometimes Flirty, Not Always Thriving
Today I am thirty. I am not where I thought I’d be at this point. Jennifer Garner promised me a certain lifestyle I have yet to accomplish – I feel neither flirty nor thriving. Thirty feels like a mystical age until it’s here. I am officially a grown up even if no part of me feels like one. Like, I should now be supporting my parents financially. Well, I chose a career as a writer, so sorry Dad. Maybe by 35.
This week I’ve tried to look back and determine if I accomplished everything I had hoped to in my twenties. Which begs the question, what did I set out to accomplish in my twenties? But, much like a trip to Target, I forgot to make a list. So maybe retroactively…
I graduated college
I formed some of the most meaningful relationships in my life
I lost friends
I moved east across the country
I moved back home
I moved west across the country
I survived truly horrific hangovers
I fell in love
I fell out of love
I adopted a cat
I can scour online lists of things I was supposed to have accomplished by this age, but those lists feel privileged and pretentious. Including items like, “start saving for retirement,” (again, I’m a writer) “pay down your debts,” (don’t boss me) “do something spontaneous,” (seems risky) “travel solo” (it’d be great to hitchhike across America on a whim, but I’m a woman not looking to be murdered by grifters in Kansas, thank you very much). Perhaps due to my inability to accomplish what Medium.com thinks I should have by now, the weight of aging suddenly feels heavier on my weaker, thirty-year-old bones.
Or maybe that’s because three months before my thirtieth birthday I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. And this, even more than the birthday itself, felt like the end of my youth. Gone were the days I could drink with abandon, and I mourn those hangovers as much as I cursed them before. I can’t eat carbs without meticulously counting them, or survive without daily injections. I am now consumed with fears of stroke, heart attack and losing feet or eyesight on top of my pre-existing thirtieth birthday fear of dying alone and being eaten by my cat.
So maybe now I make a list, lest I head into my fortieth birthday unable to determine if I’ve actually accomplished anything or not.
Fall in love and make it stick
Keep my cat alive. In case I can’t accomplish the above, I’ll need him to eat my remains.
Learn to cook zucchini noodles to taste anything like my beloved pasta. (I have low expectations for this one).
Become successful in my career -- consistently be paid for writing things. After all, Mom and Dad need that retirement plan.
Become a mother. Oof, writing this out seems so official. I’m still not totally sure I even want this to have a place on my list but all the “Freeze your eggs now!” mail I’ve received over the last few weeks suggest I should at least start thinking about it.
Adjust to the new reality of my health. I’ve been healthy my whole life until now, so maybe this one will take me past forty.
Adjust to my new relationship with food. Find ways to love it again, and not see it as a burden. Right now it’s a reminder of my new disease and what I’ve lost.
Spend absolutely zero minutes worrying about losing weight or adjusting my body to fit an arbitrary standard it was not meant for. I don’t want to think about how many hours of my teens and twenties were lost to this pointless obsession. I can no longer eat pasta or bread without careful calculation or risking illness, so I want to go back, slap my dumb, lineless, twenty five-year-old face and yell, “Eat all the pasta! Now! While you still can!”
Eat the pasta. I still can. Sometimes it’s worth the risk.
Say goodbye to toxic relationships, romantic or otherwise. They’re not worth the time, effort or heartbreak.
Find my people. Many of them I’ve already found. They’re as close as down the street and as far as across the world, but I’ll find them, hold on to them and feed the fuck out of them. I haven’t done the math on this, but I imagine these relationships are 50-75% more nourishing than the toxic ones.
I may achieve all or none of these in the next ten years, but I hope I can look back on my thirties as I do my twenties: filled with joy, a little bit of regret, a decent amount of shame and, if I’m very very lucky, a shit ton of pasta.