something new x 30
November 4, 2008 will mark the thirtieth anniversary of my birth. Many people have intense emotions about this event: panic, regret, fear, dissappointment. These people keep the date quiet or mark it reluctantly in the hushed tones of mood-lit restaurants with only a few trusted souls as witnesses. Others plan bold festivities, inviting everyone they’ve ever known since age 0 to celebrate with monstrous bashes in honor of the extraordinary accomplishment of staying alive for three decades.
I’m not sure where I fit on this spectrum and lately I’ve been feeling that if I had to pick one word to describe how I feel about turning 30 it would be “ambivalent.”
I’m not ashamed of who I am at 29 and I have many things to be grateful for. I am aware that I’ve checked off many of the items on the traditionalist’s “to do before 30” list. Happily married? Check. Employed? Check? (Even better, pursing a challenging and rewarding career? Check.) Graduate degree? Check. Own a home (no matter how unwise financially and psychologically it was to buy a “fixer-upper”)? Check! Check! Check!
While I have many things to be happy about at 29 (see above), I don’t feel breathtaking joy about the prospect of turning 30. And while people of any age can feel they need to be wealthier, thinner, more successful, there is something about entering one’s thirties that makes you stop and think: Am I who I thought I would be at this milestone? Have I done the right things in my 20s to make my 30s even better? Is it too late now to do any of the things I haven’t done yet?
That last question is the one that always gets me. When I’m feeling serious I think: there are things I’ve wanted to do that I haven’t done. Why? None of the reasons seem good enough—fear, self-consciousness, procrastination, money. When I’m feeling less earnest I think: You’re turning 30, not entering a nursing home! You have your whole (well, most) of your life ahead of you! But the question remains: If you haven’t done those things yet, when will you?
Since being 30 is going to be something that is new for me, I figure that one way to get beyond my ambivalence is to commemorate turning 30 with other things that are new for me.
This blog will chronicle the 30 new things that I do or that happen to me in the 30 days before I turn 30. And since October has 31 days, I even get a safety day where I can stay inside in my pajamas and do absolutely nothing new.
So stay tuned. Surely some of those 30 things will be interesting. And if you’re feeling bored with my activities, suggest some different ones. Tell me what you did to mark your 30th or share something you’ve always wanted to do but haven’t yet.
[Disclaimer: Lest you start listing items like “topping Mount Kilimanjaro” or “learning to fly airplanes,” please keep in mind a few things that are keeping me tethered to reality: my budget is tight (basically nonexistent) and I need to stay within a 2-hour driving radius of Washington, D.C. Oh, and I work a 40 hour week (5 days).]