Thursday, October 6, 2011

My Next 30 Years

Hey, guess what? I turned 30 on Tuesday! I know, I didn't make a huge deal about it. No big "Birthday" post this year. It got me to thinking about my friends who make huge deals about their birthdays. You know the types, they begin discussing it in detail for several weeks leading up to the birthday, that way nobody can have an excuse for forgetting. They will often declare that their birthday isn't simply one day, that they celebrate a birthweek or even a birthmonth. For these friends, a sheet cake and a card are never sufficient. At the minimum, there is a party, but ideally there would be an entire vacation.

I have never been one of these people, and this is partly because of when my birthday occurs. Being born in a month like October, I cannot plunge a flag into the calendar and call the entire month mine. I can't change the name to "Samtober". It's not mine to take. October belongs to Autumn leaves, and football season, and Pumpkin Spice lattes, and Halloween, and Oktoberfest, and pumpkin patches and Columbus Day. If all of my family and friends can manage to stop whatever they're busy doing to call me/text me/Facebook me within the 24-hours of my actual birthday, I consider it a Happy Birthday. There is no big 30th bash for me. My birthday is on a Tuesday. My husband left for a week-long business trip that happens every year at this time. And I have a toddler who is with me constantly. (No, I still haven't hired a babysitter. I have control issues.)

Ok, so everybody makes a big deal about turning 30. It's a milestone birthday, and milestone birthdays are a time for self-reflection and goal setting. Well, let me clarify: milestone birthdays can be for self-reflection and goal setting, but I'd say that 30 is probably the first milestone birthday for this. The previous milestone birthdays are associated with other things:

1: cake
13: insert chosen "teenage" privileges here (makeup, phones, whatever)
16: driving
18: voting and legal adulthood
21: drinking

And...then you're 30. Turning 30 means joining a new club, a new demographic, taking on a new identity. You're a "thirtysomething". It also means that your membership in the twentysomething club is abruptly revoked, and that a major part of your identity--the age group to which you belong--is gone. Think about it, advertisers trying to win my business will market to me differently now. True story.

How does it feel to turn 30? Well, imagine you've never been to...Italy. You've heard about it. You've studied it in school. You've seen photos and movies set in Italy. Your friends have been there. You have an idea of what it would be like to visit, and you've thought about it. You've just never experienced Italy. So, one day, you fly to Italy. You step off the plane, take a look around, and--much to your surprise--discover that Italy looks a lot like Austin, Texas. You've been to Austin, and you love it. Italy is remarkably similar. It isn't mysterious or unknown. It's a lot more familiar than you expected. Now, this is just an analogy of course. I really haven't been to Italy and I'm not trying to say that it in any way resembles Austin. But, what I am attempting to illustrate, however poorly, is that turning 30 is like a long-awaited voyage to a far away land that feels surprisingly comfortable. Unlike, say, a trip to the moon, which is how some people act when talking about a looming milestone birthday. 

Of course, there are other issues to face when turning 30, because this is the first milestone birthday where people begin to think about things like aging and mortality, and let's be serious--that can be sort of a bummer. I have a friend who turned 50 a few years ago. He's a darling man. Imagine if Rock Hudson had collagen lip injections...
He explained to me that milestone birthdays in and of themselves typically aren't a reason to get the blues. It's when you reach a milestone birthday while at the same time feeling unhappy or dissatisfied with your station in life that a person gets a case of the sads. If, for instance, you are in a co-dependent relationship with an emotionally unavailable commitment-phobe, or that temp position you took as a receptionist right out of college has turned into your job for the past five years, or you're living in your parents' basement, a milestone birthday can shake you to the core. It can send you down a shame spiral, or it can be a catalyst to make you stop being complacent and start a fresh new chapter. Maybe take that trip you planned to take "someday" or take a risk you've been putting off out of fear. 
So, I've made it to 30. I have a happy family and I enjoy my life, but now what? What does "thirtysomething Samantha" want to do? I've got a few ideas:

1. I want to be a jogger. Why? Because honest-to-goodness "joggers" are physically fit pretty much 100% of the time, and jogging is free. Seems like a logical decision to maintain my overall wellness. Full disclosure: I have never run voluntarily unless I was earning college credit. Seriously, I took a class in college called "Jogging". I made an "A". For the Final, I think I ran a 15-minute mile or something equally ridiculous. To help me ease into running I am attempting the Couch-to-5k program. So far, I have run exactly once. Stay tuned.

2. I want to participate in something that isn't all about me. Perhaps something in my future neighborhood, some sort of charity work. I didn't even want to talk about it here, because I don't want to sound like some sort of do-gooder announcing "Look how charitable I am. Aren't I a great person?", but it's something I'm thinking about. I haven't really thought this through completely, but I figure there is more to life than online shopping and Pinterest and attempting to jog, so I'm gonna check it out and get back to you. Also, it would be nice to meet other grown-ups. At this point I spend most of my days jibber-jabbering with Robinson in some made up language that only he can understand. I may be losing my grip on reality.

3. I am decorating my new house in neutral colors. I know, shocking. The kaleidoscope color scheme that appeared in my current home will not be repeated. It's time to live in a grown-up house, and my grown-up house should have grown-up things, such as...
4. A wine refrigerator. I think my new house should have a wine refrigerator, and other accoutrements that say, "I'm a sophisticated, grown-up lady". I don't know why the wine fridge speaks to me on this level. I think it says, "I am an adult, so I drink wine, and I am successful, so I have enough money to purchase a wine fridge along with several bottles of wine at one time to necessitate a wine fridge, and I'm sophisticated enough to care about serving my wine at the proper temperature".  I've given this some thought. Help me out, what other items or possessions make up the trappings of sophisticated adulthood?

5. I want to be the friend who remembers birthdays early enough to send out a birthday card. In the actual mail. For some reason, that sort of thoughtful attention to detail says "I'm a grown-up" What other habits or behaviors should I adopt now that I'm the big 3-0?

1 comment:

  1. Happy belated, lady! I think these goals sound awesome and echo what I will likely be striving for when I hit 30 in January. I actually started the Couch to 5k program (downloaded the app) and absolutely loved it, but then I broke my knee. Sad face. Hope to start up again soon. And I LOVE my wine fridge. Mine holds six bottles and is just the right size. I feel fancy always having wine to offer or take over to gatherings. And it's shiny. :)