So. A few days ago, I mapped out my blogs for the next few weeks because I've had a lot of things swimming around in my head. I had stumbled upon this article, Turning 30, quite awhile ago and thought I'd use it as my jumping off point (feel free to read it, it's still good!)
Then, this morning, as I was driving to work, I heard the sad story of a Yale student who wrote a really great end-of-year article (ie Baz Luhrmann, Wear Sunscreen) who promptly died in a terrible car accident. You can find her essay, "The Opposite of Loneliness" here. You should definitely read it.
When I was 22, I was on a mission to change..nay, save, the world. All through college, I dreamed of getting my MD, JD, PhD and whatever else I'd need to be the super-star-Chief-Justice-of-the-Supreme-Court-while-juggling-my-equally-awesome-role-as-Surgeon-General. I would have married & completed my family by age 26 (a older daughter and twins) and live in a lovely home with my handsome, stay at home husband who joined me on trips to developing nations to save babies and women every summer. Are you laughing yet? Talk about impossibly high and ridiculous expectations! So how, amid all these dreams, do you really find happiness? Marina makes a great point:
"Of course, there are things we wished we did .... We’re our own hardest critics and it’s easy to let ourselves down. Sleeping too late. Procrastinating. Cutting corners....... But the thing is, we’re all like that. Nobody wakes up when they want to...... We have these impossibly high standards and we’ll probably never live up to our perfect fantasies of our future selves. But I feel like that’s okay......There’s this sentiment I sometimes sense – that it is somehow too late. That others are somehow ahead. More accomplished, more specialized. More on the path to somehow saving the world, somehow creating or inventing or improving. That it’s too late now to BEGIN a beginning and we must settle for continuance, for commencement."
You know, the thing is - I had all these dreams about what the future should look like.... that I had no idea of how amazing it could be. In 16 days, which I can only imagine will fly by, I will turn 30. In thirty years, I think I've racked up quite a few accomplishments. I won a jar of candy corns in first grade because my guess of how many were in the jar was closest to the actual. Perhaps of more worth, I won both the Geography & Spelling Bees in 8th grade. Freshmen year of high school, I was voted Penny Queen. As a gymnast, I excelled at vault and set a new record for my gym, Olympiad North. I made it through college and my masters without incident and proudly display "MPPA" in my work email's signature. At the age of 23, I was chosen to open a pilot store for Banana Republic which morphed into a Campus General Manager position for a $4 million dollar business with over 100 employees. After making a brave leap to the nonprofit sector, I now fundraise for a local school with the radical notion that all children can be successful with the education we provide. I met and married my perfect match, have the cutest child on earth (clearly, my biggest & best accomplishment) and survived a heart attack at the age of 28.
Whew. Not the fancy-schmancy large scale world-changin' I planned for..... but, more amazing than I ever, EVER could have imagined. I'm not where I thought I'd be or planned to be. It never occurred to me that living -thriving- didn't have to be about me changing the world. Clearly, my world has changed me.
I have never particularly been afraid of turning 30. And after the last year, quite frankly, I'm glad I'm not pushing up the daisies somewhere. So, as Marina says:
"But let us get one thing straight: the best years of our lives are not behind us. I plan on having parties when I’m 30. I plan on having fun when I’m old. Any notion of THE BEST years comes from clichéd “should haves...” “if I’d...” “wish I’d...”
Last summer, I started writing a bucket list. I still want to do all these things and will get to do a few soon-ish) (hike in a rainforest, adopt a daughter). Others are not too far after that I hope (write a book, attend Fashion Week). But, really, I'm not sure if these things really matter (well, besides the adopting another kid piece). Sure, they make for good memories and funny stories and great picture albums. But when I think about all the things that stand out to me about my first 30 years, they matter because of who I was with and how they made me feel.
30 (and 40, 65, 87 and 100!) will be what I make it. And, I plan to make it awesome.
RIP Marina. And thank you, for leaving this amazing piece of yourself behind.
"What we have to remember is that we can still do anything. We can change our minds. We can start over. Get a post-bac or try writing for the first time. The notion that it’s too late to do anything is comical. It’s hilarious...... We can’t, we MUST not lose this sense of possibility because in the end, it’s all we have." -Marina Keegan
PS: And I do plan to have the best parties when I'm 30. I am grateful every day - my best is both here and yet to come :)