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.