Today, I’m thirty-one years old.
Growing up, it was impossible to picture myself in my thirties. Would I ever be that old? I didn’t think so. Then again, it’s hard for me to picture myself in my forties or fifties right now. It just seems so unfathomable that this body, this soul I’ve been walking around in for more than three decades, will get there. It’s happening less and less often, but I can’t lie: sometimes there are days I still feel like I’m a teenager.
Oh, I’m the adult who has to make a call to the cable company about a bill dispute?
Oh, it’s up to me to keep track of all of my doctor’s appointments?
It’s weird to be the adult. To be the one who is trusted to make the decisions. To be the one who feels comfortable making the decisions. Because I am. I’m comfortable making decisions and calling companies and scheduling appointments. It’s not weird anymore. It hasn’t been weird for awhile.
Thirty was not a good year for me. In fact, I’d venture to say that it was the worst year of my life. It was a year filled with loss, depression, uncomfortable changes at work, and loneliness.
I should have known it wasn’t going to be a banner year for me, as I kicked it off by breaking my ankle while helping a friend move. A few months later, my beloved dog Dutch died. He was my constant companion for nearly a decade, and I still don’t know how I’m moving forward in life without him. During the second half of 30, I battled intense anxiety that had me requesting a change to my anti-anxiety meds, and then a bout of depression knocked me down for a number of months. It was also during this time that an influx of my coworkers – the ones who were my dear friends and who had gotten me through every bad day over the past 4-5 years – left the company. I’m left with just one remaining friend, and while I like the majority of my coworkers, they are just that… my coworkers. They aren’t also my friends, my work wives, my soulmates. With my friends moving onto new jobs, I’ve spent the past few months wondering what’s next for me. Am I happy here, am I challenged, is this where I’m supposed to be? I don’t really have the answers to any of those questions.
And then, my Pops unexpectedly passed away. I didn’t expect to lose him this year, not at all. I expected to have decades left with him. He was only 77! His last health screening had come back negative for any health problems! How could he be gone? Losing him was unexpected – and traumatic – and the grief is overwhelming. My heart feels like it lives in the pit of my stomach at all times; my shoulders feel burdened by the weight of losing him.
So, yes. Thirty was not kind for me, and I really hope it’s a not a precursor for what is to come in my thirties.
This year wasn’t all bad, of course. My friends threw me a fun, low-key birthday party where they surprised me with the most thoughtful gifts (including a “30 Reasons We Love Stephany” print that I look at constantly). I went on a week-long cruise with my mom where I rode horses through a jungle in Belize, zip-lined in Honduras, and sipped fruity cocktails poolside in Cozumel. I spent a weekend on Anna Maria Island with my girlfriends. I watched one of my best friends get married. I was thrilled when my mom adopted the sweetest dachshund puppy that she named Chip (after her favorite food: chocolate chip cookies) who has sewn my heart back together. And I celebrated two years of solo living.
It hasn’t been a good year, but there were moments of goodness sprinkled throughout.
For the past few years, as I turn a new age and take stock of my life, I have always seemed to find myself lacking. No partner, no weight loss, no novel, no big change. I’m never where I think I should be at this time. Many people my age are married or in serious relationships. They have children – multiple! – and fully settled into parenthood. They have impressive career titles or are homeowners or go on dazzling vacations every year.
It’s so easy to find yourself lacking when you look at what other people are doing.
It’s so easy to not find anything impressive about your life when you’re just looking at others.
But when I take stock at my life today, I am so goddamn happy with it. I don’t have all the things I thought I wanted, but maybe I don’t actually want them. Or maybe just not right now. There’s always this “grass is greener” mentality for the things we see in others that we find lacking in ourselves, but just because other friends are married doesn’t mean I need to be. Just because they take solo European vacations doesn’t mean I should. Just because they bought a home doesn’t mean it’s the right move for me.
When I keep my eyes on my own paper, when I look at where I came from and where I am today, I can’t feel anything but immense pride for the woman I am today. I am genuinely happy with my life. I am obsessed with my friends and even more so with my family. I am still best friends with my mom, and just a phone call from her lights up my world. I feel empowered by my job, and still really like what I do, even after five years (and even after all my friends have left, wah). I’m financially stable and have my very own adorable apartment that is my refuge. I didn’t go on a single date in these past 11 months, and I feel good about that. I feel happy and secure in my singleness for the first time in a long time. I’m leading the life I want to lead, and there’s nothing more powerful than that.
I am oh-so-ready to say goodbye to 30 because it was a tremendously difficult year for me. I am expecting big things from 31. I want to lose weight. I want to finally finish that damn novel. I want to grow my savings and learn more about investing. I want to shop less, watch more movies, and spend more time by the pool. I want to adopt kittens and be the cat-mom I always knew I could be. I want to take a solo vacation, visit the Grand Canyon, and finally see Washington D.C. Mostly, though, I just want to enjoy this one beautiful life I have. It’s not a perfect life, but it’s my life. And I want to enjoy it as much as I possibly can.