“You’ll be just fine,” my cousin said. “You’re not even in the game yet!” my Dad said. “It’s actually kind of nice,” my friend said.
I didn’t believe any of them. Turning 30 was definitely going to make me feel old.
I celebrated my 30th birthday two weeks ago, and upon reflection, I can say in complete honesty…
…I feel awesome about it.
This is good news, youths, so take heed and take heart.
It’s a funny thing, really, how we use decades as milestones. It is arbitrary and odd that we do this. Still, culturally we look to 20, 30, 40, etc. as indicators of status, achievement, and life stage. Most of us want to have accomplished certain things within each ten year span. Setting goals is not bad in itself, but when we turn arbitrary goals into a lens through which we judge others, we feed the beastly social stigma of believing we all need to be young, beautiful prodigies. So around the world we go, many if not most of us walking in this cloud of underachieving shame, self-perpetuating our victimhood to irrational standards of youth and performance.
The day after my birthday, however, I awoke feeling liberated. I realize now that, whether real or imagined, I let this stigma hang over my twenties. Since adolescence, I thought I had to hide my imperfections, please others, and downplay my own interests. I felt like people doubted me, thinking I was unprepared and inexperienced, and I let them. I felt like a poser. I felt somehow not quite a full person.
Whether or not this stigma is real, it no longer has control over me. Something about turning 30 empowers me to say, “I’m not gonna take any more crap from anybody.” I’m going to like what I like and be as exuberant as I please. I’m going accomplish amazing things and from now on the only things stopping me is me. I’m going to do what I want. Why? BECAUSE I’M AN EFFING ADULT!
I know living this out is not going to be easy; changing a habit never is. I have always envied my husband who learned many of these lessons years ago and has always impressed people with his confidence and passion. I regret letting myself feel what is essentially delayed adolescent awkwardness for so much of my twenties, when I could have been doing good, uninhibited, creative work. But the goal now is to look forward to the future. Being young is overrated. The future means wisdom, which I crave, and growing in Christlike love for others, which I need. Analyzing past pains can only get me so far with those goals.
Whether age 30 is behind or ahead of you, the point is, for all of us, to embrace our God-made selves, and to shake off arbitrary inhibitions. We should be living BIG, and living into our characters, our vocations, and our loves, and focus on making something of this world with eternal significance.
Ironic, how it took an arbitrary birthday to get that. God is funny sometimes.