Monday, March 18, 2013

On Turning 29

I turned 29 three months ago. So this post is a little delayed. It's been sitting in my draft box for weeks, and I'm finally taking the time to get my thoughts on "paper." Get excited. ;)

Your 20s are a decade when you're "finding yourself" - finishing school and entering the real world, figuring out who you are and what you want to do with your life, and discovering what it means to be an adult. And in the midst of all of that uncertainty and change, you still feel young and invincible, as if you've got all the time in the world. You're enjoying the freedom of living life for yourself, carving out a little piece of the world that you call your own. You're beginning to make decent money and buy nice things and take fun trips with friends. You feel healthy, energetic, and carefree.

And then you turn 29.

At least that's what happened to me. I know 30 is traditionally a tough birthday for most. But I had my "I never thought I would be this old" epiphany on December 7, 2012, when I realized this is the last year in my coveted 20s, the last year it is socially acceptable for me not to have my shit together.

Suddenly I feel old. Because the older I get, the more my life seems to unravel a bit at the seams. At times I feel like I'm living life in reverse when compared to my peers, and then I get a bit panicked. But I have to remind myself that this is my life. I have to own every decision and step I've made along the way because those choices and moments have made me who I am today. It's all about the journey. And I'm really starting to get that.

So this journey continues, and days and weeks and months go by, and all of the sudden I'm 29. If I told 15-year-old Ann where I'd be at 29, she may have laughed in disbelief. Twenty-two-year-old me would probably say, "Get your shit together." Ha. She was so young and naive.

And that's when I not only feel older (as in I have more wrinkles and my skin is losing its luster and I get a hangover after three beers older), but I feel wiser. When I compare who I am today to who I was five years ago, I see a marked maturity, a shifting perspective, and a crossing of the threshold into adulthood. With this rite of passage comes some dashed dreams, a loss of innocence and idealism, and the mourning of the end of an era. But there also comes a fresh and seasoned view of the world and people and a deeper understanding of the beauty of both grief and joy, pain and hope.

Because I'm beginning to realize that as difficult as it is to say good-bye to my 20s (clearly I need 12 months to do this), I think I'm gonna love my 30s. I already feel more comfortable than I ever have in my own skin, I know who I am and what I want out of life, and I don't care (as much) what other people think of me. I also better understand my strengths, and equally my limitations. And I'm OK with both. I can "own" those characteristics and be honest with myself - and others - about them.

So as traumatic as it was to turn the big 2-9, I'm beginning to dig this getting older thing. I may have been in bed before 10 p.m. Saturday night, and St. Party's Day weekend no less (to my credit, I did run a half marathon that morning), but I wanted to feel good the next day, and not hungover and useless...

...Wow, I'm old...

...But also so much wiser. :)

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