Cheers to the next 30

cheers-annapolis-photographer

Tomorrow, I’ll wake up and be 30 years old. That sounds so bizarre and foreign to me. With increasing frequency, I have to stop and think about how old I am when someone asks. You mean I’m not still 26? 

But don’t take that to mean I’m not grateful to be turning 30. I am.

I so am.

I remember being younger and hearing other people lament turning 30. I heard things like “I’m getting so old.” “I don’t want to be 30.” “I’m turning 29 again!” And for a while, with each year that my age moved farther from 21 and closer to 30, I felt an underlying sense of dread. 

Within the last couple of months, though, I realized, you know what? I really don’t give a shit how old I am. Because first of all, let’s be honest: a lot of people don’t make it to 30. That isn’t to sound like some trite Instagram quote, but really. Some people don’t get to turn 30. I do.

More than that, though, is the ever expanding sense of gratitude and humility I feel when I recognize I get another year to grow into who I’m meant to be. When I think about who I was at 20, and who I am on the precipice of 30… no way would I go back to 20. Not in a heartbeat. Sure, it’d be nice to bounce back from a night of too many margaritas as easily as I once did. I could do without the fine lines that are creeping in. And where the hell did all this grey hair come from? 

 

But truthfully, at 20, I had no idea who I was. Sure, I had a good head (with fewer wrinkles and grey hairs) on my shoulders. I did well in college, I stayed out of trouble. But I also didn’t have the same kind of self-awareness I do now. I was not as sure of myself, and relied too much on external validation. More often than not, fear made a lot of choices for me, even when my gut told me they weren’t the right choices. 

And now, I have a much better sense of who I am, and I’m more confident and less apologetic about it. I’m learning that joy and peace do not come from external validation, but from within. And though sometimes the fear puts up a really good fight, I’m becoming more courageous.

So on the eve of a new decade, I’m only joyful. 

Happy birthday to me.