On Wednesday, I turned 29.
As a little girl, I would constantly dream up what being an adult would look like. Usually I resembled a Babysitters Club member, but nevertheless... I thought about my career, who my friends would be, how my parents would live forever and ever, and how I wanted to always be loved and surrounded by people I cared about.
I never really put a number on it though. Age 16 might as well have been age 30. I didn't know any better -- grown up just seemed GROWN UP. A steady state you just sort of took on one day at a magic moment, where your ponytails always looked perfect and you could hang out past 10pm on a week night.
And then suddenly, I found myself a week out from turning the last age in my twenties. A decade that has been punctuated by education and best friends and heartbreak, bookended by moves cross-country. And suddenly, I realized I was terrified.
Never in a million years did I think I, of all people, would be nervous about turning 29. I mean, what's age, right? Nothing but a number. But the thoughts started piling up -- of the things I had done, that I hadn't finished, that I hadn't started. And more so, what was missing, or that I had assumed I'd already have had by the time I was such a grown-up, nearly 30 years old.
I think, without ever voicing it consciously, I had assumed I would be sure by now... of everything. I'd have the concrete career path, and that marriage thing that I had honestly never given much thought about, well it would have just already happened. To be standing on the edge of decades of life and growth and yet realize I was still growing and learning and figuring s*** out.
So many enormous visions of my life and expectations I didn't even realize I possessed, tucked far enough down into my heart that it took a birthday to pull them out.
Let's be real -- I didn't expect to be 29 and single, Beyonce style, or still feeling the need to dip my toes into multiple career pools to see where my passion fit best. Or, you know, having yet to publish the next New York Times bestseller. And maybe you didn't either. But, here we are. Here I am.
It's a little absurd, in my opinion, to boil your whole life down into one age, as if 30 is a finish line and you've got to wrap up everything un-done into a tight little bow by the time it hits 11:59 p.m. on the last day you're 29. I'm not a fan of "30 before 30" lists for that exact reason. There's no time limit! So why panic?
I love birthdays -- yours and mine -- in an obnoxious way, because I love celebrating life. Can you think of anything better? Birthdays are synonymous with growth, and man, I have grown in these last 28 years. No doubt about it, and for that I'm so grateful. But it wasn't until literally the evening before my birthday when I received a text from my mom, letting me know that at that exact time 29 years ago, she'd been reading a baby book, panicked herself because her water had broken and she wasn't sure if that meant she and my dad really had to go to the hospital yet, that the fear finally broke. Something quietly switched inside me, and I woke up the next morning ready to own age 29, and whatever it might throw my way.
Your 20s are an ocean of ebbs and flows -- amazing highs and heart-aching lows. But, as least for me, the good has far outweighed the bad...The good always wins.
And so, fresh into this next trip around the sun, I'll leave you with the main thing I've learned in these last 28 years: BELIEVE, in yourself, in others, in love, in life. Believe it, and it will happen.
29, do your best.