Friday, January 19, 2018

DOORS OPEN, DOORS SHUT

Each time you reach another milestone decade, you stop to think about what that decade means in your life. I remember 40 approaching and how much friends and I dreaded that date. Yet my 40s turned out to be some of my best, most productive years. Turning 30 is another big change as we step into full adulthood from the often turbulent 20s.

This week I've asked Rose Owens, a writer who turned 30 in 2017, to explain her point of view.

HERE COMES 30

When I was young, I always wanted to be a teenager; I had the perception that it was going to be so much fun, that I'd have a really cool boyfriend, and popular friends, and that my life would basically be a 1990's teen flick. I was so enthralled by this idea that whenever I'd write stories or draw pictures of characters from these tales, they were always teenagers. It seemed like such an idyllic time of life, and I couldn't wait to enter that phase.

As many of us have experienced, being a teenager was not all pop music, hilarious but ultimately harmless hijinks, and the first kiss of true puppy dog romance. In fact, much of my teenage years were spent feeling out of sorts, unattractive, and just dreaming of getting out of this hellish decade. It was a super blissful moment when I turned 20, and thought, "thank god that's over."

Fast forward to myself as a 29-year-old, sitting in a session with my amazing and inspiring therapist. I've gone well past the teenage years, have experienced 99% of my twenties, and am looking down the barrel of the big 3-0. In the midst of a conversation about who can remember what, I make a very offhand remark, casually saying "and 30 is supposed to be awful, so there's that." My therapist sits straight up in her chair, holds out her hands, and says, "Stop. Pause. Where in the world did you hear that?" I realized that I hadn't actually heard it anywhere, but had assumed that along with heaps of other societally-enforced stereotypes, that turning 30 was just another step towards irrelevance. CAVEAT: This does not mean that I saw any of my older friends or my parents or older relatives as "useless" or "unimportant"; but rather, that in many ways, that was how I saw myself. That my aging was just another way of proving that I wasn't amounting to much and that I lost my chance way back when to actually accomplish anything of import.


Image by Martha Slavin

Suffice it to say, my therapist quickly dissuaded me of this idea and began to wax poetic about all of the magical things that 30 could have in store for me, including but not limited to:

-You're going to make peace with your body. It's here, and it's helped you get this far. You will still have those areas that you disliked up until now, and you may still dislike them. But there's less internal pressure to make your body something it's not. You will be friends with your body and treat it better because it has treated you well.

-You're not going to suffer fools. You've spent thirty years trying to make other people comfortable and happy with you (especially valid for me), and in the process, have spent a lot of time with people who aren't willing to do the same for you. Now, you're going to cut the cord. You're going to prioritize spending time with people who bring you joy and who support you.

-Your needs and desires, in general, will clarify. You've got a wealth of experience to draw upon as to what nurtures your body and soul, and that desire to support yourself via your work, your contacts, and your consumption (of food, of art, of life) is going to grow stronger and stronger. Now is the time to break off from that toxic job that was making you miserable, time to go see the movies YOU want to see, time to eat that piece of chocolate cake that has caught your eye.

Image by Martha Slavin


The magic of it all is that these things have come true. Sure, I'm still Rose, I still have the same foibles and flaws that I have always had, and just because I desire that piece of chocolate cake doesn't always mean that I let myself have it without a side dish of guilt. But my focus on my own needs, my support of my soul and body, and my life, in general, have improved in leaps and bounds since I turned 30. I'm happier that I have been in quite some time, and while I know it is not due to that therapy session, a very distinct switch was flipped in that moment where I let myself feel "this is a new chapter to be excited about."

I've been spreading the gospel about 30 since my birthday in August, and while not everyone's experience has been the same, it has felt really inspiring to watch other people start their journey into this decade. There's a great deal of excitement and freedom that is palpable, and especially necessary during these chaotic times we're in. It's not all easy, but there's a feeling of relief and camaraderie throughout.

I told a friend a few months back how turning 30 was so impactful, and she, in turn, was excited for her Saturn Return to take place in a year and a half. Supposedly it takes Saturn 30 years to return to the same place so Saturn Returns tend to bring rebirth, an opening of a new chapter, and a conclusion of lots of things. A few hours later, we were watching a really joyous and fun electronic band tear up the stage. They were so passionate and dynamic, truly immersed in their work and unabashed about spreading a wonderful sensation of happiness to the entire crowd. A couple of songs in, my friend turned to me and said, "What they're feeling up there, that looks like your 30." 

And it was true.




Image by Martha Slavin

1 comment:

  1. Your images convey a wealth of imagination!

    In April when I turn 69 I will begin my 70th year. From this vantage point it seems not as old as I would have imagined. The big unanswerable question now becomes
    "How many years will I actually have?"

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for commenting! I love hearing from readers, and I answer each one.