“In your thirties” always seemed so old. It wasn’t the age, the number, it was what people in their thirties did that didn’t seem to have anything in common with who I was.
People in their thirties had children and mortgages. People in their thirties were nostalgic for music that was decades old, people in their thirties had a tenuous grasp on what was cool.
I am, now, all of those things. What my younger self failed to realize was that all of the things that made me irrelevant in my thirties would also make me happier and more content.
In my thirties my highs are more bittersweet than they used to be when they were unadulterated. But my lows are less low. It seems impossible that I could be more self-assured than I was in my late teenage years, but my confidence is different. It comes from a steadier place, more trust in myself and less in a universe that parts for me. I have earned that.
It never crossed my mind, or it would have struck me as sad, that women in their thirties long for the love affairs of their youth. And yet some of my biggest wishes for a do-over comes from a time when I can hardly be faulted for my ignorance. Even knowing how it would all end up, some things are still hard to let go of in my thirties.
I never pictured myself in sweater sets, but I never had a handle on what marriage or motherhood would look like. For a brief while I even believed that those things weren’t meant for me, so vast was the black hole I conjured around those institutions. Turns out marriage and motherhood looks a lot like me, better than me, really. The husband and daughter I share my life with are more complex and richer in spirit than I gave them credit for in any cardboard daydreams.
There’s a lot I could say about my twenties, mostly how they felt like a bridge from childhood to adulthood. A decade-long bridge that I’m just lucky I made it across. But I should probably wait until I have more distance, a broader perspective, from my twenties.
After all, I still have a lot left to live in my thirties.