Today I celebrate the 30th anniversary of, as my best friend Sarah put it, “breathing on your own.” There’s an overwhelming theme in pop culture that this is a milestone at which one is supposed to feel ancient. Well, sorry, I don’t. Maybe that’s partly because I’ve always been an old soul (friends and family can tell you I was always the one shooting down fun), so the “death” of my “youth” isn’t anything mournful. I’m pretty fond of being an adult, and 30 seems like cultural permission to finally enjoy that.
That’s not to say it’s not a reflective moment. Milestones, however arbitrary they may seem, are a good excuse for self-examination in a world makes it easy to avoid. Looking back at the markers of life is a good way to judge where you’ve come from and where you’re going. Mine reflect a crazy zigzag path with a lot of points I actively tried to avoid at one time becoming things I embraced at others (see: marriage; choosing ASU over Northwestern for grad school because I didn’t want to deal with a Chicago winter).
There are things I thought for sure would happen by now that haven’t yet; that maybe never will. I thought for sure back in college when I was leading a six-person team at my college paper that I would have a leadership position in a newsroom by 30. It’s been hard to watch my friends (and sometimes my mentees) attain roles and respect that I thought I’d have by now. It has been difficult to act a leader and not be officially recognized or paid as one. It has led me to wonder if I’m better off leaving news to be “just” a developer, instead of trying to demand what I feel like I should have from an industry that doesn’t seem to want to give it to me.
I also thought I’d be out of Chicago by now. Being so far away from my family kills me. (It doesn’t help that a flight to Fresno costs nearly $400 and takes 8 hours on a good day.) There is not a day that goes by that I don’t miss them. I didn’t appreciate living in a place like Phoenix, where for $150 and an hour’s ride, I could be home on a whim for a weekend. (This also factors into questioning my career in news, given that most jobs in news geekery are in NYC and DC. Moving even further east would just make me even more homesick.)
But there are good things I never anticipated, too. I have an incredible community here. The friends I’ve made here are wonderful people I never expected to find. Starring in this is my biggest unexpected blessing, my amazing husband and his family. I have unbelievable support from my family and friends, and am lucky enough to have friends like Julia and Keri and Leen and Sarah that have known me for far longer than I care to remember. I’ve hiked the entire John Muir Trail with my dad. I’ve won a national championship in a sport I never dreamed I’d get to practice. I’ve got a mom who is more like a best friend than a mom (most days ;) — love you, Mom). I’ve gotten to watch my brother become a functioning adult (that still trips me out sometimes).
Life is remarkably good.
If you’d told me on my 20th birthday that 10 years later I would be married with a condo in Chicago, I think you would have broken my mind. I’m excited to look back to my 30th birthday in another 10 years, and marvel at all of the twists and turns God had in store, plot twists that I never could have even imagined.
In the words of my father, it will be an adventure.