Birthdays are funny.
And by funny I mean simultaneously scary and exciting. It’s a sensitive time between nostalgic reflection and staying optimistic for the future. I’m turning 30 this year and reflecting on birthdays past. I’ve been thinking about where I am in my life, how I got here and reminiscing on if I’m living up to the vision I had of my life.
My 8th birthday party is the earliest birthday memory I have that doesn’t require photos to envision the events that took place that day. Some would say it marked the demise of my birthday celebrations.
My parents hired Manny The Magician to entertain 15 eight-year-olds on my back patio. Manny arrived with his sequin vest, a top hat, a few bunnies, two doves and one very strict rule… Do. Not. Let. The. Dog. Out.
Obviously the dog got out. The bunnies survived but we were focused on the two doves flying far and fast as my dog chased them 20 feet below. As 8-year-olds at a magic show do, we were waiting for the “magic” to happen and expected the doves to come back. When they didn’t return, Manny packed up his bunnies and left his business card as he mumbled, “call me if you see my doves.” It’s safe to assume the doves lived happily ever after. I envision the doves being my 20’s…ready or not, the dog will get out, the clock will strike midnight and my 20’s will be nothing but a memory.
A couple decades (decades? okay, that sounds old) later, I’m facing the big 3-0 and while there won’t be any magicians, doves or sequin vests, I am just as excited to see what’s next.
To get my 30s started out right, I read this interesting article about the top 10 pieces of advice older people would give their 30-year-old selves.
- Start saving for retirement now, not later.
- Start taking care of your health now, not later.
- Don’t spend time with people who don’t treat you well.
- Be good to the people you care about.
- You can’t have everything; focus on doing a few things really well.
- Don’t be afraid of taking risks, you can still change.
- You must continue to grow and develop yourself.
- Nobody (still) knows what they’re doing, get used to it.
- Invest in your family; it’s worth it.
- Be kind to yourself, respect yourself.
While each piece of advice is important, I found one particularly intriguing.
Nobody (still) knows what they’re doing, get used to it.
They* say you’re supposed to have life figured out by the time you hit 30. They are probably the same people that never heard the BZZZ of the tweezers in the Operation game, never saw the blue and red lights in their rear view mirror or saw the look on their dads face as you tip toe through the door one minute past curfew.
Sure, I had an outline of what I wanted my life to look like when I was young. It included graduating from Miami University in Oxford, OH, becoming a Samantha Jones PR rock star in New York City, marrying the man of my dreams and becoming a mother to twins after my career could manage itself.
Reality struck and I found myself as a bank teller as I went through grad school with no ring on my finger and living with my parents. I had no idea what I was doing.
Then I met the man that became my husband with plans of starting a family as soon as we said, “I do”. The biggest curve ball of my life happened then when we began our three year long journey of infertility and every vision of the life we planned together was one huge question mark. No matter how much you plan and prepare, life happens and it makes you realize you have no control.
I learned that life has ups and downs and while the good times don’t last forever, the important thing to remember is the bad times don’t either. The depths of infertility led us to having a sweet baby boy – which has been amazing! – but I’m quickly realizing parenting is a whole new trail to blaze.
My advice to my 30-year-old self is this: They don’t know what they’re talking about.
Make your own money (and try to save some), sweat everyday, find happiness with yourself before anyone else and hold your baby as much as you want because they grow too fast.
I’m learning that life doesn’t come with a cliff notes edition but it’s comforting to know they don’t know what they’re doing either.
*”They” is the blanketed term for societal norms.