I recently had the good fortune of hearing Rebecca Ryan speak at a conference. She was inspiring and thought provoking, definitely one of the best Keynote Speakers I’ve heard.

This blog post isn’t totally relevant to her presentation, but you should check out this video that she shared. It’s poweful.

 

One of the things she said that I keep coming back to (probably because I felt so validated by it) was that 30 is the new 20. I doubt that comes as news. After all, people are taking longer to finish college, leaving the nest later, marrying later (or not at all) and having babies later (or not at all).

People, in Western societies in particular, are delaying the conventional model of making and living a life.  A lot of the delay is due to a greater number of opportunities, more time spent exploring one’s options and/or building a career.

I’m not advocating for one lifestyle over another. Quite frankly, I think people should do what makes them happy.

That’s what I’m really trying to get at.  I’m 31 and still figuring out what makes me happy. What I want to do. Where I want to go. How I want to live my life.

It would be inaccurate to say that I don’t have any answers to those questions. I do. I certainly have more insight into them than I did at 21.

I know a lot of people who experienced agony at the thought of turning 30. There are milestone ages in life and 30 is one of them. Just as 16, 18 and 21 signal their own unique “coming of age,” I think 30, for many, signals becoming an adult – a real adult, whatever that is.

30 is not just license to operate a motor vehicle, vote in an election or drink alcohol – none of those things signal maturity. They’re just privileges you receive at arbitrary ages. By  30, however, you’ve most likely had some major life experience.

You’ve probably fucked up big time, paid the consequences and, thankfully, found out you’re fairly resilient. You’ve probably had some kind of steady job (career, maybe), paid your own bills, made a large purchase (car, home) and, hopefully, learned to budget and manage your finances. You’ve probably fallen in (and out) of love at least once, broken someone’s heart or experienced heartbreak yourself, entered into a long term relationship, perhaps had a kid . You’ve probably dealt with and overcome pain and become a better, more compassionate person for it.

Basically, by 30, you’ve earned your stripes. Depending on how long you live, you’ve entered into the second quarter or third of your life, and  you’ve had plenty of time to get knocked around by the experience. But like any milestone, arriving at it forces you to look back and take stock of your assets, so to speak.

I wasn’t anxious about turning 30. My dad had told me once that his 30s were his best and most favorite years. He explained it like this: You know who you are and what you like, but you’re still young enough to have fun, explore and enjoy life.

That’s some of the best wisdom anyone has ever shared with me. It completely took the fear out of turning 30. If anything, I welcomed 30, because I’d spent my 20s doing a lot of “experiencing” and I was ready for that balance of confident and adventurous spirits.

It’s still early, but so far his insight rings true. I like my 30s. I’m a little wiser, a little more secure and a lot calmer. I can look back and feel good, mostly, about what I’ve been through and accomplished. And, at the very least, I can say I’ve learned the lessons that some of those harder knocks intended to teach me.

With some experience under my belt and some long term projects finally and proudly finished, I’ve been giving more thought to what I truly want out of life. I think I know. I at least have a glimmer, a vision in the making. Some days I can see it so clearly and with such confidence, and some days I’m riddled with fickleness and scared shitless.

It’s a strange and exciting place to be. It’s like standing at the edge of a cliff, confident you’ve had all the appropriate training and packed all the necessary gear, but hesitating because you know you’re leaving solid ground.

It’s a leap of faith going after your heart’s desire, and it’s what I’m dedicating my 30s to doing.


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