30: The Final Report

I’ve gotta say. 30 wasn’t nearly as bad as all those Cathy comics led me to believe it would be.

Most of my 20’s felt like this:

Amazing life experiences, and heaps of anecdotes, but not much to show for it. 30 was the first year I felt like an adult. I took control of my finances, moved overseas, made a home with someone, got a job in the creative field, and made major strides in curbing my bad habits.

It’s not that I’ve never lived on my own before. I moved out of my parents house technically 4 times, if you count my freshman year of college when I “lived” in New York. But I always moved back in with my parents in between living situations so I could get back on my feet. So it always felt like I was stuck in first gear — chronologically an adult but still depending on my mom to buy groceries, or wondering how I’d fit all my things into my one bedroom, or sneaking in drunk at 4 in the morning without waking them up. Living with my parents allowed me to pay off my car and my credit cards MUCH sooner than it would be if I was living on my own, but it was easy to feel like a teenager. A teenager who worked full time and paid bills, but a teenager nonetheless.

This year, though, I moved out — waaaay out — and I’ve felt more responsible for myself than I have in just about, ever. And I learned a new feeling of independence. Independence isn’t just being able to pay your bills and your rent. It’s about creating your own life. What you want from your career, your relationship, your home, your eating habits, your health, your friends, your kids, your traditions, etc. I feel like, at 30, I finally started shaping my life, instead of living as an extension of my family. I think that was most apparent on Thanksgiving, when my mom wasn’t here to cook a big dinner, and I was completely lost, or not seeing my folks on Christmas morning and feeling such a void in the day. I’ve spent so many years tightly wrapped up in the way my family does things that I forgot that Joel and I get to make our own traditions now. Because he’s part of my family now. And we’re shaping our life together, making our own family. And that’s pretty awesome.

So, in a nutshell, 30 was great, and liberating in a way I wasn’t expecting. And I didn’t wake up with saggy skin and white hair. But I am scandalized by the way young women dress, 3 drinks will give me a hangover, and I contemplate buying wrinkle cream for my neck almost daily. What can you do?

I’m looking forward to aging. Even if it is a seemingly accelerated pace. If 30 was any indication, 31 is going to be a lot like this:

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