today, i turn 31.
and today, i have a very different way of looking at the world than i did when i turned 30.
turning 30, i was frought with all kinds of emotions...fear, for sure, and also a sense that i was not where i was supposed to be. i started to experience everything as if on a running clock, and although we all are on a running clock of sorts, i don't think life is meant to feel that way. i started to calculate everything as it pertained to age and time. i would look at a young mother and try to guess her age...if she appeared older than i was, i felt relieved - i still have time. if she was younger, and already had two children, my blood pressure felt like it was going up on the spot. if a couple we knew owned their house, it meant we were behind and playing catch-up. in some ways, it made our life less than whole. i was measuring my life by everything and everyone around me.
everything except my life. everyone except me.
over the course of the year i spent being thirty, i changed. i'm not sure exactly how, or exactly why, but i did. my eyes opened to the wealth of diversity around me and i began to notice that for the first time in my life, my peers represented a full spectrum of living, and there's a message to be heard there.
at thirty years old, i had single friends, married friends, and divorced friends. i had friends with three children, friends trying desperately for their first, friends with no interest in a child at all, and a friend about to have one and still not used to the idea.
i have friends who rent small apartments and large houses, friends who own huge homes and smaller ones, even more than one home, and friends scrounging to try and buy their first. some of my peers are advanced at work in true positions of power while others are just now forging a path, rethinking goals and searching their souls.
and i feel pretty okay with all of it.
i feel comfortable in the apartment mitchell and i rent which, each day, becomes more and more a home. i am comfortable with the idea that we might never own a home in this new financial landscape we've inherited, and i feel okay with that too. for our generation, that's not going to be a reality for everyone, and i don't feel shame about it if it's not for us. it's silly to me when people say renting is throwing money away, as if you're not getting something in exchange. we need somewhere to live! and if you can't buy, then renting is what you do, and it provides shelter and a place to call home, a haven, and a place that is just yours in the world. to me, it doesn't matter whose name is on the deed - my sense of home is in tact.
i'm not going to be a mom by the time i'm 30. that ship has sailed, and for a combination of reasons, the time wasn't right yet. i'm not behind. i am living my life the best i can. somewhat suddenly, i don't feel like a slave to the standards set out by anyone but myself, and my standards don't have to do with a white picket fence or a mortgage. they also don't have to do with needing things to come into my life in a particular order. i don't need a house before a baby or a baby before a certain birthday. i need only make choices that are right and good and smart for me and mitchell. and one day, for our children too.
but that's just me. and i think that's the beauty. in the year i spent being 30, i learned that there is no right way to live life, other than to live by guiding principles of kindness and goodness and knowing yourself. there will always be people with more, who are further along the path we all, somewhere inside, think we should be on. i don't want to spend my life on that hamster wheel, so i will choose not to. and it is a choice that needs to be made every day, isn't it?
i want to be happy and comfortable and i want to believe every day of my life that i am where i'm meant to be. that's my choice. and i do. i've found myself repeating that in my mind these past few weeks, and the calm it gives me is pretty astounding. it's a powerful thing to feel.
i guess that's why they say you become comfortable in your skin in your thirties.
all photos from www.flickr.com