I’ve been going back and forth over the past few months on whether or not I’m bothered by turning 30. Some people view it as a big deal, others couldn’t care less. It’s hard not to compare myself to the people I know. At 30 my mom was married with a baby on the way. A friend of mine already celebrated her 5 year wedding anniversary, and several of my classmates have multiple children. Today is my 30th birthday, and what do I have to show for myself?
As a writer I frequently reflect on things of my past, wondering how things might have turned out different if I had made better choices. That’s just a nice way of saying I dwell on the past too much and tend to obsess over what might have happened if I had only paid better attention.
I had mentally been making a list, and driving myself mad, of all the things I thought I would have done by now. Fortunately, I have good friends that pull me out of the darkness in my head and remind me of the good things that have happened in my life. I still want to share my list, though, because I think it’s important to see how my goals have changed. I might not have gotten to where I want to be, but it’s not so bad right here.
30 things I thought I’d do by 30
- Get married to my college sweetheart
- Buy a house close to a big city
- Have at least three kids
- Buy an SUV (I really don’t want to explain why I thought this would be something I’d have done by now)
- Get a short story published in a magazine
- Get at least my first novel published
- Move to London
- Decide Paris is more romantic and move there after two years in London
- Have a dog
- Move out of Indiana for good
- Leave small town life forever and only live in and travel in big cities
- Have a job that I loved
- Have a well paying job
- Open my own coffee house
- Travel to Greece and fall in love
- Have a respectable, adult wardrobe that doesn’t contain skinny jeans or shoes with cats on them
- Have a large kitchen in my house that would be fully functional and absolutely impressive
- Have enough time and money to get my nails done every month
- Own enough books to create my own library
- Build a library in my house
- Drive across the country, visiting the small towns that no one talks about anymore
- Go to Disney World more often
- Have a summer home in Cape Cod
- Go on week-long vacations at least once a year
- Become a well known author (by name only, I don’t know if I want people to be able to recognize me in public)
- Read every book I own
- Gotten a degree that could actually be useful in the real world
- Be immersed in a writing community, or even find a writing community to dive into
- Publish a collection of short stories that could be read as a companion to my first novel, or simply enjoyed on their own
- Finally get my shit together and stop procrastinating
I’m feeling a bit sick looking at the list I just typed. Nothing is what I thought it’d be and I can’t go back and change things.
Time to focus on the positive things now.
30 things that have actually happened
- Fallen in love, several times, with guys that don’t always deserve it.
- Fallen out of love, because sometimes people change
- Proud Aunt to a niece and nephew that I love so much I want to cry.
- Been living on my own for the past 7 years. Living in my own apartment, paying my own bills, buying my own groceries. For the most part at least. My family loves to help me out when they sense money is tight.
- Had a Great Gatsby themed 30th birthday party, thrown by my friends and family. It was so amazing that I start tearing up just by thinking about it.
- Realized that I’m incredibly loved by my family and friends. They believe my life is worth living, and that’s what gets me through the tough days.
- Moved out of the state, realized it was terrible, and moved back to Indiana. I feared the repercussions after telling my family it was too hard out there, but they welcomed me back with open arms and asked me what they could do to help me.
- Planned several vacations, with my friends, that actually went pretty well. I’ve traveled to Boston, Salem, New Orleans, Disney World. Trips that I planned without consulting my mom on what I should do.
- Learned how to file my own taxes, which is something I never thought I’d do
- Connected and disconnected utility services over the phone, scheduled maintenance for the apartment, and bought LED light bulbs. Moving into my first apartment made me realize that no one is going to do these things for me. I have to be responsible for things I’d never thought about before.
- Got a cat, which quickly turned into an obsession. Boyfriend gave me a cat while I was living alone in the city because he was worried about me living alone in the city. I had never had a cat before, and I had no idea what to do with it. Cut to 6 years later, and this cat is companion. He sleeps on my bed, follows me around, and has a special meow just for me.
- I graduated at the start of the economic decline a few years ago, so jobs were hard to find. I took a chance on the first job I was offered and moved an hour and a half away from my parents to start something new.
- Turned the first job I could find into a potential career. I have medical insurance with my job, and a retirement plan. And I’m good at my job. It’s earned me the respect of my coworkers, which is finally being acknowledged by my boss. Things are looking up in there now.
- I’ve gone to almost every coffee shop in this area, and find new shops everywhere I go. I love finding a place that really cares about their coffee.
- I fell in love with Boston. The history and the buildings. I had never felt so drawn to a city before. Chicago has always been my favorite city, but Boston has that east coast vibe. Everything in that city moved differently from the Midwest. That was the first time I felt truly moved by a city.
- Realized that I can be a respectable adult and still wear a shirt with a cat on it.
- Forced myself to cook a variety of real food, and not go the easy route and buy fast food or pre-made food.
- Learned how to create a budget, even if I only follow it half the time.
- Started a reading challenge with my friends, hoping to finish at least 12 books this year. Right now, I’m at 29, working on my 30th for the year (how fitting).
- Explored all the libraries in town, and took full advantage of them when it came to the reading challenge. How are people not excited about everything a library has to offer?? I’ve gone to several author readings and had the chance to talk to them about publishing and writing. Everyone should be going to libraries.
- Studied literature and writing in college, instead of a more logical major, like business. My parents encouraged me to study what I wanted, and as a writer, I’m grateful for that. As someone paying back student loans for the next 10 years, maybe not as much. I can tell how much my writing has improved, and I can still hear my professors telling my how important it is for a writer to be well read.
- Realized just how much I love my family, even though they can be smothering sometimes. They will always be there for me, no matter what ridiculous thing I do.
- Accepted that what’s best for some people, might not be best for me. While people around me are getting married and having babies, I’m good being single and childless(unless you count my cat, which I sometimes do). Finding a husband is not the most important thing in my life. Pushing myself to be a good person and a good writer is what matters to me.
- Sadly accepted that as cool as blue or purple hair looks, it will never be a good look for me.
- Taught myself to make pie crust, which no one else I know does better than me.
- Cut out the negative people in my life. The friends I have are the friends I know I’ll have my entire life. There’s no drama, just love and respect. They encourage my writing and bring me the positivity I’m lacking most days. These are the people I want by my side forever.
- Made it a plan to go to the Printer’s Row Lit Fest in Chicago every year. I’ve connected with different authors and publishers through that, and have gotten so many wonderful books.
- Somehow ended up a fan of a sport I had never really considered (GO BLACKHAWKS!)
- Made a habit of regularly going through my clothes and shoes to get rid of things I don’t use anymore, and donating them to a group I trust.
- Accepted that I’ll never completely get my shit together, but using a monthly planner will definitely help.
I know I haven’t posted in a while, and this seems like a strange thing to suddenly post, but the year is winding down so my thoughts are winding up. Thank you for taking the time to read this, and hopefully next time we will be back to our regularly scheduled writer updates.