Thoughts About Turning 30

(I’m 31 now but I wanted to drag this out of the archive and share with you 🙂 )

What my 16-year-old self wanted to be when she turned 30:

1. An astronaut
2. A rock star
3. An Oscar winning actress

Obviously these things didn’t happen. And they probably never will happen. At least, the astronaut part will definitely not happen. But just because I’m not a musical talent with an album or a 5 book publishing deal doesn’t mean I have to stop living just because I’m hitting the big 30.

I’ve had friends who dreaded turning 30 because they thought it would mean the end of everything fun and exciting. When I was younger I pictured 30 as the age when I was REQUIRED to have a well established career, family, aka children, and financial stability. When I turned 29 I realized I would never meet these socially constructed stereotypes about living as a 30-year-old person.

I don’ have a career and I’m not planning for children. I used to think that because I didn’t have any conventional aspirations (family, career) for my life, I strove for creative expression and was determined to make art out of words and have writing validate my life.

As I got closer to 30 and realized that poetry would not get me on the New York Times best selling author list I realized that I could either give up on writing because it wasn’t making me “famous” or change my perspective about art and make art just to make art, because it gave me peace of mind and made me happy.

Things my 21-year-old self wants my brand new 30-year-old self to remember:

1. Do all the things I couldn’t do.
2. Listen to and respect your body.
3. Don’t stress out about things you did in the past. The present is all that matters.
4. Less toxicity, more breathing.
5. Don’t beat yourself up for feeling the challenges of challenges. That’s why they’re called challenges.
6. NEVER GIVE UP ON YOUR DREAMS. We got this far, now keep going.
7. Don’t be afraid to accept your feelings.
8. Smile more.
9. Embrace your individuality/weirdness/uniqueness. There’s only 1 you and you need to be you.
10. Don’t stop rocking out. Stay excited and passionate about life.
11. Stop obsessing about what other people think about you. You have more important things to think about.
12. Don’t let anger/anxiety rule your life.
13. Tell the people you love that you love them. ALL THE TIME.
14. Having everything “figured out” isn’t as important as living.
15. Stop holding on to regrets.
16. Practice more self-love and compassion for all living beings, even the ones that hurt you.
17. There are situations and people that will never change. Don’t let them stress you out. Let go and move on.
18. Negative thoughts don’t fix anything. Stay positive.
19. Embrace whatever life throws at you, even if you’re feeling down and hopeless.
20. Don’t half ass anything. Always do your best.
21. Never give up on creative expression.
22. Never say you can’t do something. Always try before you judge yourself.
23. Keep working toward your goals, even if it takes longer than you want and you experience set-backs. Never stop.
24. Everything can be scary, don’t let fear rule your life. You can overcome anything life throws at you.
25. Mistakes are good. They help you learn. Don’t judge yourself or feel bad when you make one.
26. Age doesn’t define who you are. Your actions and ideas do.
27. Every day is a new day, an opportunity for growth and change.
28. Accept the hardships as they come, accept the joys as they come, hold onto the happy moments and let everything else go.
29. Don’t keep your feelings bottled up in side.
30. Never grow up, never give in. (SJ Tucker)

As I think about turning 30 I realize how much I actually accomplished in the last 3 decades, not just school or relationship wise, but from a developmental perspective. I was a very angry and directionless person through most of my late teens and early 20s. Now I feel like I have a new lease on life because I’ve discovered the strength to remove toxic people from my environment and live life for ME, not for someone else or an idea that I have to act and behave a certain way just because I’m more “adult” than I was before I turned 18.

What I have accomplished:

1. Bachelor’s Degree
2. Master’s Degree
3. Published poems
4. Self-published a word body that rocks as a poetry collection
5. Learned how to drive an 18-wheeler
6. Survived a flash flood
7. Survived appendicitis
8. Developed a deeper and more meaningful relationship with my family
9. Learned to love again and found an awesome life partner
10. Opened myself up to learning a musical instrument
11. Acquired amazing tattoos
12. Lived on the equator
13. Discovered a way to stop hating myself

My goals now:

1. Travel more!
2. Get more tattoos
3. Live a more healthy life
4. Express myself openly. (Marco Paisley)

Here are some cool things I’ve discovered about turning 30: the first being, I am who I am and while some parts of me will change, other parts won’t. I’m a huge fan of alternative fashion and body modification. I’ve been getting tattoos and piercings since I was 16, that’s 14 years of experimentation with art and body. I’m not going to give that up. As an adult, the phrase “that’s just a phase,” is no longer valid. Also, I get asked for my ID less. Even thought I don’t really like looking “older” I really enjoy not having to show my ID whenever I want to buy a bottle of wine or go to the movies (yes, I live in a town where they check your age for R rated movies).

I find I get along better/my ideas aren’t dismissed by adults as easily as they were when I was in college because I’ve experienced more of life and other adults can recognize that I know what I’m talking about. I think being an adult is much better than being an adolescent but I do find it strange that age and experience can validate an opinion. Younger people have the same validity as adults, just a different perspective, and I believe everyone should be listened to regardless of how old they are. I haven’t always been excited about turning 30, I did think at one point that I would be like Sylvia Plath and I wouldn’t survive to see 30 or that I would still be “alive” but living in a stale, passionless, soulless existence as an office worker in some miserable company.

Another cool thing I’ve discovered is that I didn’t feel defeated when I gave my mom permission to tell me “I told you so” and vow to accept every mistake I make/made from here on out, I’m not sorry for making mistakes and I’ll never stop learning from them. Life is a joy and a celebration, as is every birthday in your life.

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409writinglife

Jessica Halsey was born in Arkansas and has lived most of her life in the United States and Panama. She earned a BA in Sociology from Randolph-Macon Woman's College and an MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College. Would you like to know more?

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