As Alice kindly announced, today is my 30th birthday. The day got off to a rough start, but a little time ignoring work, eating a lovely organic lunch, reading some Pride and Prejudice, and then eating too much ice cream has turned the day into quite a lovely experience. Anyways, before my natal day expires, I thought I’d seize the chance to wax on a bit about where my thoughts wandered as my third decade waned.
For months, I’ve been looking forward to my 30th birthday. I’m a mother to a two year old. I’m in my second year on the tenure track. I own my second house. That combination of things just seems too much and too mature for someone in their twenties. I was brought up to believe that the twenties were a time of relatively carefree young adulthood – when you studied too much, enjoyed wonderful friendships, spent a lot of time outside, and had relatively few responsibilities. To some extent that characterization is a fair one for my life between 20 and 28. But at 28, my life changed with the birth of my daughter and my acceptance of a faculty position. Suddenly my age felt too young for where I was in life and I was anxious for my chronology to catch up with my biography. So I looked to my 30th birthday as a time when things would be set right – when I would be recognized as being fully adult (“in my 30s”) and appropriately aged for my academic, socio-economic, and parental standing.
But in the last few months, my thoughts have gone a different direction. I’m 30 now. This is my life, not preparation for a life. Despite the “assistant” in my job title, I’m not an apprentice anymore. My parenting decisions, my marital decisions, and my academic decisions are fully my own. For better for worse, those decisions affect my every day, my present day, and my future. Running myself ragged isn’t purely in pursuit of some future payoff, it’s a day lost from my life. And it’s a day lost from watching my daughter grow up. That’s why I feel an increasing sense of urgency in the task of getting my life back under control. I don’t want to look back on my thirties with a sense of dismay over disjointed priorities and time spent, and I don’t want to shorten my time on Earth by failing to take care of my body and spirit. I’m committed this year to trying some strategies to make my life more sane and manageable, and hopefully happy and healthy. I don’t think I’ll figure it out in one year, and I suspect it will be a lifelong task of constantly adjusting and refining my pursuit of happiness. But I’m 30 now, and I don’t have any time to waste.