Another Life Crisis

A huge day is looming on the horizon for me… as if preparing for a massive asteroid to narrowly avoid striking earth’s surface, I am doing my best to harness the anxiety associated with the big three-oh.

Why exactly do we place so much pressure on another birthday? When you’re thirty, you’re supposed to have your shit figured out, right? I mean, everyone on my Facebook feed seems to have life wrapped together in a neat little package. Marriages, babies, marathons… yes, I suppose that I’m conveniently ignoring the posts by other friends of drunken smiles, Buzzfeed quizzes, Farmville accomplishments (wait, do people still play that game?)

I know that this is completely self-inflicted anxiety. When I was a little girl, I knew that my parents had fallen in love in high school and gotten married in their early twenties, and my grandparents before them had done the same thing. So – I thought you got married around age 21. (Still single, by the way.) Don’t get me started on the offspring topic. When I decided that focusing on myself and moving to New York to pursue my artistic career was the best decision – I focused on ‘making it on Broadway’ as the true definition of success and I vowed to book a Broadway show by my thirtieth birthday. Why would I do that to myself? Is it the pressures of society, friends or family? Maybe the stream of other peoples’ lives on my computer screen? The idealistic worlds of any show featuring charismatic, beautiful and successful people living in New York City?

I hate to immediately jump to pointing out my astrological definition as a Gemini – but my major problem is the huge dichotomy of self. When I recently disembarked from a short cruise contract in which I visited five countries in nine days, I was overcome with emotion at the fact I didn’t know when I’d be traveling the world again. A huge part of my identity comes from my love of travel and exploration. And yet, diametrically opposed to that, I long for a stable life in one place with one person and one purpose. Is there a way to embrace this conflict and live comfortably?

I hate to say that I’m not successful. I am very proud of the life I have built for myself. I am self-sufficient, I have amazing friends and family, I have the cutest apartment in New York City, I make my own music and still live with a daily sense of adventure in my own city. I have visited 34 countries in the last year alone. And honestly, I tremble when I think about how many more places I ache to visit.

For me, the biggest challenge as I turn thirty is going to be allowing myself to be comfortable. No, I haven’t gotten married, had kids, set up a 401K or investments. But I have created so many fantastic experiences all over the world, have made myriad friends from near and wide… and I find that my artistic self has grown so much in the seven years I have lived in NYC. I believe that the best thirtieth birthday present I could give to myself would be freedom (though the new vacuum cleaner I just bought from Amazon is a very close second). Freedom to self-express, freedom to love myself for what I’ve accomplished – even though it’s outside the normal definitions of success.

After all, Oprah Winfrey didn’t start her show until she was 32, JK Rowling published Harry Potter when she was 32, Julia Child didn’t learn how to cook until she was in her thirties, and Lucille Ball didn’t find her fame on I Love Lucy until age 40. I think there’s still hope for me.

I often laugh when my friends tell me that turning thirty was the best thing that ever happened to them. When they say that the best years are in the thirties. God, I hope that’s true. Because the twenties have been pretty damn fun.

Here’s to thirty.

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5 thoughts on “Another Life Crisis

  1. Grandma Dee June 17, 2014 / 3:48 pm

    Dear Ashley, I can only address my perspective of living in my 7th decade, by saying each decade gives us hope for new experiences, adventures, accomplishments, and new friends to meet. I am so very fortunate to have lived longer than many of my friends and family members. I have much to do in the remaining decades of my life. Someday I hope to see you on a Broadway stage but if not, for whatever reason, I know you have accomplished so much more than you or I could ever dream about. Happy Birthday!!!!

  2. Jill Courtnell June 17, 2014 / 4:21 pm

    Ashley, one of the best presents you can give yourself is wonderful memories – they sustain you when you hit the dumps, and inspire you when you’re in the mood to reach out for more – life, living and love (which can come in many different guises) Love from a Spare Granny!

  3. Linda June 17, 2014 / 5:24 pm

    I love your embracing your adventures to date. Your experiences are rich beyond words- great memories for you and fodder for writing. Can’t wait to celebrate your birthday with you! xoxo

  4. Christie Bailey Miller June 17, 2014 / 5:27 pm

    I just want to say your are doing “life” right! This post just made me smile, I have known your mom since well junior high/high school so I am in my 5th decade, laughing as your comments are thought provoking and as a fellow Gemini I will readily admit I have struggled even now with balancing the wanderlust and having stability or I suppose some would say “having it all”. I have made pretty substantial changes every decade of my life and I have not regretted a single one, my life has not been boring that’s for sure. You are a successful, talented, strong woman, be proud and happy of who you are, what you have done and what you want to accomplish. My only advice would be is to keep living life the way you are and everything comes together just as it should! Happy Birthday to you, the 30’s are fabulous, and so are the 40’s and 50’s!

  5. Lore Duser June 17, 2014 / 7:03 pm

    Hi Ashley!

    Thanks for yet another great post. Keep them coming.

    As far as crisis is concerned, it only is one if you think so. As far as we are concerned, you have accomplished things far beyond our wildest dreams for you.

    You may not have chosen the conventional route so far but there is no: one size fits all.

    You are the captain of your own destination and whatever you decide for yourself is what counts for you.

    There are no do-over’s in life. Once a decade is gone it is part of your memory and what a rich memory you have accumulated for yourself so far. We could not be any prouder of you than we are.

    Who knows what’s in store for you, as long as you feel happy and fulfilled and are self sufficient, what more could you want.

    As far as Prince Charming is concerned, if you want one, there is one for you somewhere.

    As far as children are concerned, if I want to name my next dog August, I will do so and if you ever have a son, you can just tell him what a cute namesake he has.

    Have a wonderful 30th Birthday. We are celebrating with you in spirit.

    Stay HAPPY and HEALTHY and everything else will fall in place.

    We love you more than you will ever know.

    Break a leg.

    Oma and Opa

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