Today, I turn thirty.
To be honest, I haven’t approached this milestone with much of the traditional hand-wringing or moans about getting so old. I’ve always been an old soul so, to me, getting older only means I’m growing into my soul; a notion that I find actually quite comforting. I’m not really sure I’ve ever really ‘felt’ my age, so I suppose I’m not sure what thirty is ‘supposed’ to feel like.
So, the question is: what does thirty feel like, for me, today?
To be honest, more than anything else, it feels wonderfully and, at times, bitterly hard-won.
This hit me when I came across a quote from writer Kaci Diane. It reads:
And I just thought, “Yes. That.”
I feel I spent my twenties in a series of quiet battles. I spent them wrestling with who in the world did I want to be and who in the world was I really deep down and how exactly does one connect the two? I wanted to strip away the expectations and people-pleasing and begin asking myself honest questions and, most importantly, giving honest answers to those questions. In short, I had to ask what kind of story I was telling with my life. I began asking myself that question around age twenty-five and I find as the years stack up, I take that question more and more seriously. Because as you see the people around you age and make choices and be born and pass on, you become increasingly aware that these quiet little collections of moments and days that we all carry around are it. That’s all any of us get. And we can spend quite a lot of time forgetting that and wasting a tremendous amount of our lives just trying to go from day to day without much conscious thought. The more I see of the world, the more I realize that our lives and our days deserve so much more. The One who gifts us with these days deserves so much more.
While I am not terribly concerned with leaving a legacy or crafting some majestic life, worthy of Oscar-winning movies, I am in fact extremely concerned with telling a good and joyful and worthy story with my life. To me, it is an essential part of acknowledging and affirming that God has created me to be a good, joyful, and worthy person. I want to tell the kind of story that is authentic, not just flashy or exciting. And for me, that is a story that not only speaks of kindness, of joy, of inconvenient and lavish love, but shouts and holds to the sincere value of dreams and whimsy and the little ordinary, not-so-fancy nuggets of life, because it is there that I find grounding and fullness and weight. I don’t just want adventure, I want home and routine and everyday-ness to seep into my bones and ground me. But in the same breath, I still seek to be a person who isn’t afraid to occasionally come across cliffs that I might just leap off of, because I want to know the person I could become on the way down.
Today, I find myself looking back at my last decade, at those quiet battles and unknown cliffs with a mixture of fondness, aches, and gratitude.
I started college with no real idea of anything, really. I made friends and discovered coffee and Joni Mitchell. I went to England for a semester and have never stopped wanting to go back. I graduated college. I met some boys. I dated some boys (and started realizing maybe I needed to date some men). I learned the hard way that guys who keep telling you what a great friend you are usually don’t want to kiss you and don’t want to tell you that. I learned that holding back honesty doesn’t make you considerate, it just makes you a coward. I learned how to heal on my own two feet and, in the process, how to handle my own brokenness with gentle hands. I stumbled into a passion and then I quit a job. I worked myself into a flour-covered, Type-A frenzy in culinary school and emerged in one piece, still madly in love with what I do. I found myself in a bakery on a farm. I made some of the very best friends anyone has ever had and found the weighted glory of what it is to have a tribe and be loved within it. I learned how to cultivate and trust my creativity, gradually opening up doors I had kept closed for a long time. I went on some road trips and criss-crossed the ocean a few times (though never enough). I got a tattoo. I began dreaming and then, for awhile, I stopped dreaming. I broke down and started going to counseling (which is maybe the most wonderful thing I’ve ever done for myself). And then, I started dreaming again. Now, I’m sketching out a few ideas of a few more cliffs of which I might just leap off because life is amazing and I have the freedom and hell, I’m thirty and the question “Why not?” keeps floating around my head and I’ve run out of answers to throw at it.
This life is incredible and to have reached thirty, after all of that and more, is a pretty fantastic thing. I can’t wait for my thirties and beyond. I am more and more humbled and amazed to find the wealth of inspiration, beauty, kindness, joy, and quiet glory that this world holds for me. It truly overwhelms me just about every day. I pray and dream of so many things and I hope I have the chance to experience all of them. In the end, I am just a person who dreams of a wonderfully ordinary life and I feel like today, as I turn thirty, I am humbled and blessed to be living the life I dream about.