I somewhat quietly turned 31 a week ago. Dinner and drinks out with friends the night before, and brunch and a soul food dinner on the day of, and that was that. The Modern Love Machine bought me the camera of my dreams so that I can finally take photos the way I want to, and my parents got me a really nice suitcase. The stuff that dreams are made of.
A year ago, I was so very excited to turn 30. I had finally found a man I adore and a job that made me want to get out of bed in the morning. I was Done with my 20s, wham, bam and don’t let the door hit you on the way out. I’d spent the better part of that decade struggling to become myself, learning how to care for myself emotionally as well as I did practically and figuring out how to own not only my mistakes and problems but also the responsibility for fixing them all. At 30, I had found a good rhythm for life.
Of course, that’s not the case. Do you ever really get a hang of life?** Once you’ve figured out one thing, life moves you on to the Next Thing. My cousin died young, reminding me with a gigantic smack of how mortality is all powerful and it just don’t care. My anxiety problem resurfaced, albeit briefly. The house has sprung more leaks than I care to count, and the contractor — the highly recommended one with an outstanding portfolio — quit while we were on vacation last week. Sure, those last few things are minor in comparison with cancer and other scary things of the world, but they definitely test your ability to hold your shit together. If my 20s were defined by trying to take care of myself, my 30s are already defined by putting all of the lessons learned to the test.
I also have no problem admitting that my fourth decade, young as it is, is a time of trying to take better care of my relationships with others. I forsook so many relationships that were dear to me during my 20s, ironically for the sake of trying to keep it all together. Step one was moving my career path in a direction that gave me an actual personal life. Now it’s a matter of living my personal life so that it’s not so extremely personal, but rather a life that’s full of others.
On a more functional level, I’m pledging for 31 year to be my year to figure it all out when it comes to physical fitness. Being active used to be such an ingrained part of my life, and while I’m not exactly a lump now, I’m not doing enough to keep up with my eating and drinking habits. A year ago I was preparing for an Olympic distance triathlon, and now I doubt I could run a 5k. Today was my first day back from a weeklong vacation, and it started with a trip to the gym. Now to somehow turn that into a routine — one that is life-is-crazy-proof.
Maybe you never totally figure out life, but that isn’t going to stop me from trying.
**I’m still holding out hope that you have All the Things figured out by the time you’re 80 or so.