A personal note on my birthday

I’m stewing on a post for later in the day but I wanted to write something a little more personal – not that this whole blog isn’t riddled with TMI, I mean, did you see the post where I wrote about being on the rag while running a 5K? – to mark my birthday.

I turned 32 today, which, like all post-30 birthdays, has been a bit of a mindfuck for me.  When you are in your thirties, people don’t praise you for being precocious or being a wunderkind.  No one lets your bad behavior slide because you are “just a kid.” At 32, I am a full-fledged GROWN-UP.

But this is the thing – I don’t feel like a grown-up.  I don’t know what it means to feel like a grown-up.  I do grown-up things, like go to a job that provides me with health insurance and invest in a 401(k) and clean the condo and eat my vegetables. We’re planning to have kids, even – does it get much more grown-up than that?

But I also get bouncy and silly over things like chocolate-chip oatmeal and pink birds and getting to wear costumes for Halloween.  I wake up most days excited by the possibilities awaiting me.  I have a lot of energy.  I prefer to wear t-shirts and tank tops. Sometimes I get cranky and I don’t bother to try to hide it.  I’m pretty crappy at Being A Woman.

The truth is, most of the time, I feel like a really tall kid.  I don’t think I’m alone in this.  Both my dad, who recently turned 60, and my husband, who recently turned 50, have told me that they don’t really reconcile their ages and all that is supposed to go along with being that age, with the way they feel inside.  I suspect many of us feel this way, yes?

Ironically, when I turned 25, I didn’t feel this way.  I felt much older, so tired, completely deficient in that ineffable quality we often describe as “spark.”  There was a line in the Spoon song, “Lines in the Suit,” that really resonated with me: Why do I feel so washed up/At such a tender age?  The reasons I felt this way are not complicated.  I was trapped in a bad relationship.  I treated myself terribly.  I had no goals, no vision for myself.  The future seemed like a mirage.  In retrospect, it was a terribly sad way to live.

I remember reading and hearing a lot of older women saying they felt so much more at ease with themselves as they grew older, and at the time I couldn’t see how this was possible.  You are getting older! I thought.  You are closer to dying!  You become invisible!  You have fewer choices, you have more responsibilities.  How can that be good?

Ah, the hubris of youth.

Of course, now I get it.  Now I see the freedom that comes with experience, how age coarsens you a bit, but not in a bad way.  In a way that means you give fewer and fewer fucks.  You start to know who you are, not who the rest of the world thinks you should be, and you become okay with that.  I like this.  I look forward to becoming more myself – and giving fewer fucks – as I get older.

9 responses to “A personal note on my birthday

  1. Happy happy birthday! I enjoyed the grammatical impeccability of your “giving fewer and fewer fucks.” And thank you for noting that it’s pretty okay on the “other side” 😉

    • Hey, now I wouldn’t be a real writer/editor if I didn’t know the proper use of “fewer” vs. “less.” And yes, it is more than okay on the other side – it’s wonderful. Younger people have nothing to fear.

  2. Happy birthday!

    I turned 30 this summer, and no lie — It is the first year of my life I think I may have finally started to figure out what I’ve been doing here all this time.

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