the dirty thirty

3 Oct

Everyone keeps asking me if I’m worried about turning thirty this weekend…like I should be…or like there’s something I could do about it if I was worried.  Can I stop it from happening?  Hell no.  Would I want to?  Not really.  In a big way, I’m kind of embracing 30.  And here’s why:


Every year, life just seems to get better.  I’m not sure that it actually IS getting better (in fact, I don’t think it actually is)–I think as I get older, I just realize that the good stuff is the important, amazing stuff, and the shitty stuff is just fluff that distracts you from all of the amazing things.  So I’m working hard to pay less attention to the crap, and when I notice I’m focused too much on negativity, I cut the negativity out of my life.  I feel good about 30.  I feel like I’m finally starting to become who I should be and learning more about what life is about.


When I used to think about where I’d be at 30, I never really imagined my life would look like this.


I pictured a house, a loving husband, a bunch of awesome friends, and a teaching career, yes.  But I also thought by this point I’d have stability in my job, a house full of kids and the same close-knit family structure I’d grown up with.  I’m working towards more stability at work (and I think I’m pretty much there, for the first time since I started teaching, although I’m scared to trust that because I’ve felt this way before and had the rug pulled out from under me).  There are obviously no kids…and I’m not entirely sure that’s ever going to happen, although I’m hopeful that we’ll know for sure soon, one way or another, if kids are ever going to happen for us.  And the close-knit family that I loved so much growing up feels like it’s slipping away.  My brothers and sisters will always be close–I’m not sure there’s much that could tear us apart.  But it’s strange to think about which of my parents will be around for which event in life, which family members are going to know our someday-children and which will be a peripheral (at best) part of their lives, when (or if) I won’t think about any of the drama anymore, or how long it will take before we all feel comfortable hanging out together, despite the hurtful past.


Even though parts of life are not working out exactly as I’d planned back when I was a naive little 20 year old who thought I could just wish my future into place (namely the kid stuff–I never imagined I’d turn 30 and NOT be a momma), there are a lot of things  going on in my life that I never would’ve imagined for myself, but that I am infinitely grateful for.


–Having a dog, who is the greatest puppers in the world.  Who protects me, snuggles me, comforts me when I’m sad, plays and runs with me.  He is like my little, mute child (and sometimes mute is the best).  As a kid, I had a bed full of stuffed dogs and cats, never imagining I’d find an animal that I could actually have without dying (minus fish and hamsters).  I am so thankful we met Eric and Julie (and Murphy), and then MY Eric pushed to see if the first time hanging out with Murphy had been a fluke.  And super thankful that the family who was supposed to get him bailed last minute, so we ended up with our little man.  Picasso is the best dog. Ever. Period.


–Having met so many incredible people through all of the twists and turns my career has taken.  Because even if things aren’t as stable as I’d like, even if I am STILL working towards tenure and trying to establish myself in yet another school, I have had the opportunity to work with and learn from some amazing teachers.  And I’ve met some incredible kids who I hope I’ve helped, even just a little.  And I have the most amazing kids this year, particularly my second graders, who I could stay with all day and be perfectly happy.


–Having a job in an elementary building.  When I taught swim lessons a lifetime ago, the parents of my 5-7 year olds were thrilled when I told them I was going to school to be a teacher, then dismayed when I told them I could never teach little kids for an entire day.  I was very content as a middle school teacher.  I never pictured myself an elementary teacher, but I love it.  I catch myself talking in little kid speak: “friends” and “make good choices” and “fix it” and “kiss your brain” all the time.  I look forward to going to my 2nd graders each morning, and I love seeing my kiddos leaving at the end of the day, giving me hugs and high fives and handing me pictures to hang on my walls.


–Having become a runner and staring down the barrel of ANOTHER 50k.  There was a time when I swore I could never run “just to run” (soccer player mindset meant I ran to go get the ball and kick it).  Then I ran some 5ks.  There was a time when I scoffed that people don’t really run more than 5 miles at a time because what in the world would be the point of that?  Then I ran a few halves.  There was a time when I didn’t believe I was a runner because I was not fast enough, didn’t run far enough.  So I ran a couple of marathons.  And in the process, I learned that being a runner has nothing to do with how fast or far you go and much more to do with how much you love the feeling of freedom, the sucking of air, the wind through your hair, the slap of your feet, the moment when you forget how hard you’re working and are just in the moment, the friendships forged over hundreds of miles and the post-run hang outs.  Running is now a major part of my identity, and I no longer hesitate to tell people that I’m a runner (or try to convert them, too).  30 miles before my 30th birthday? Check.  Another 50k just after my 30th?  Why not?  Contemplating 50 miles someday????  Hmm…


–Having become more comfortable in my own skin.  There have been many days, particularly in the past year, where I’ve felt good–really good– about how I looked.  This is a major breakthrough for someone who spent most of her teens and twenties working so hard to cover up all of the perceived imperfections.  I’m not saying I don’t still try to hide the less-than-perfect things or there aren’t things I don’t still see and wish I could change…It’s just more that I can see all the good things so much clearer…and I’m even making peace with my legs, slowly but surely.


So am I worried or scared to turn 30?  Not at all.  I’m excited to see what 30 will bring–new adventures and even more self-discovery.  Life is such an amazing journey, and this weekend, as I turn dirty thirty, I am just so thankful to be on it with amazing company.


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