Turning 30 - Is It Time To Freak Out?
The transition into my thirties has been taking up space in my head for a couple of weeks now. Initially, I was elated. Because my twenties were consumed by my eating disorder, I was excited to enter a new decade and have my thirties be the time where I could really thrive as a young adult.
Fast-forward to a couple of days before my 30th birthday, and I started to experience extreme hesitation. Many of my friends are engaged, married, traveling the world, and/or having babies - and that began to weigh heavily on me. I know I am not ready for a lifestyle like that - I need to work on loving myself before I can ever allow someone else to love me. But, the comparison game became a little too strong in the days leading up to my birthday.
Let's rewind a little.
A couple of years ago, I set three goals to accomplish before turning 30.
- Graduate college.
- Get my own apartment.
- Find a job that I love with all of my heart.
I have accomplished all three of those goals.
I thought that thinking about my successes would be enough to satisfy me and lead me to see that thirty is no big deal. But then, I began telling people I was turning 30, and I felt almost... embarrassed. Ashamed. I felt like I was nowhere near close to where a thirty-year-old "should" be. Shouldn't I be married? Shouldn't I have kids? Shouldn't I have already made a down-payment on a house?
Truth be told, although I am pretty capable of steering away from societal expectations, they do get the best of me at times. I can't help but compare myself to others my age who seem to have this whole "life" thing figured out. But that is just the problem with society. It expects us to perform or succeed in certain ways and when we don't, we feel like shit.
I'm trying to remind myself that there is no NORM. (I mean, don't most people hate the word "normal" to some degree?!). What works for one person doesn't necessarily work for someone else. And I KNOW that. ("Come on Meghan, you KNOW that!"). Life's course is wildly different for every single person in the world. Even my sister's life is much different than my own, and we came from the same environment. (Cue talk about nature vs. nurture).
The point is, I need to let go of the thought that my life's course should resemble anyone else's. We have a lot of control in life, but some things ARE actually beyond our control. When will I meet the man of my dreams? When will we get married? WILL I get married? When will I buy my first home? How many kids will I be blessed with? For a control freak like me, not having the answers to these questions can be painfully difficult. But, that's part of the beauty of life, right?
Regardless, my thirtieth birthday is filled with a range of emotions.
I am happy, first and foremost, that I am here. Having battled a serious eating disorder for so long, there were many nights when I feared I wouldn't wake up in the morning. And truthfully, there were many nights when I WISHED I wouldn't wake up in the morning. But here I am, celebrating my entry into a new decade of life.
And then there is the guilt. For those of you who saw my Instagram story a couple of days ago, I was experiencing extreme guilt leading up to my birthday. Someone I had crossed paths with in the past was taken too soon from us because of anorexia. And for the past little while, I was feeling bad about celebrating my birthday - celebrating the fact that I was alive another year, when she was not. I am trying to remind myself that this unfortunate situation was completely out of my control. While incredibly sad, I had no role in what happened. I need to recognize that I'm still here and I'm fighting to stay alive so that this illness does not take another life, as it often does.
Finally, I aim to remind myself of all that I have achieved in my twenties. I went to Hell and back numerous times with this eating disorder, but I still wake up every morning and fight. I accomplished the three goals I had set for myself. I met amazing co-workers who are now some of my closest friends. I've made new friendships and maintained old ones. I became closer to my parents. I went to treatment for the first time (and hopefully the last time). And I grew up a lot. While I am someone who still finds immature jokes funny, I have also matured. I have learned how to be myself, and I have become very self-aware. I know myself so incredibly well and that, to me, is a huge asset in learning to navigating life.
Am I freaking out now that I'm 30? A little. It feels weird. It feels strange.
But just like I don't define myself by the number on the scale (ahem, work in progress), I will also aim not to define myself by my age.
To all of you in your twenties: hold on tight. It can be a rough ride, but so incredibly rewarding.
To all of you in your thirties: here I am. Get ready!