Who knew that 30 is pretty much exactly the same as 29? Just with an additional 365-days’ worth of life experience. And the unceremonious bestowal of social stigma as a single, career-minded woman in her thirties. I cannot get a cat, or it’s over, folks. OVER.
In a fit of elderly nostalgia, I stumbled across something I wrote on the eve my 29th…and not much has changed. Except it has. So it goes. And here I go. “When I was your age…”
29 just sounds so…adult. And let’s be honest…I am not. Maybe on paper I can hack it, but emotionally/psychologically, I’m pretty much the poster (not)child of arrested development. But I suppose my worries, fears and desperate need for a five/ten-year life plan belie that immaturity. I never fully appreciated just how many and how significant my expectations for what life at almost 30 would be until it crept up on me. What was once a nebulous, distant milestone is now right around the corner, forcing me to come to terms with my vision of how-I-thought-it-would-be-now versus how-it-actually-is. And it scares the hell out of me.
By now, I thought I would be firmly established in the career I loved, my true vocation, making some positive impact in the world. I would be deeply invested in a healthy relationship with the love of my life. I would be planting roots somewhere, actively searching for my dream home and passively worrying about the school district. I would be plugged in, committed to and connected with my community. In short, I would have my shit together.
Insert record scratch here. Juxtapose present-day reality with early-20-something Christina’s vision of today, and the stark contrast is comical, albeit depressing. Here I am, basically 30, with no clue where my life is headed. While I don’t hate my job, I don’t see how I can function as a human being at this speed and intensity for more than another year or two. Still carefully piecing together my broken heart as I grapple with the certainty that the breakup was for the best while yearning for some affirmation that he cares, that I mean something to him. Anxious about who the next one will be, and when will I meet him, and will he love me enough to stick around, or will I mess that up too? Couldn’t cobble together the down payment for a shack in a decent neighborhood out here, even if I ate paper for the next five years. I love so much about living in California, but it is just so damn hard being this far from family and friends. So I struggle with loneliness and isolation to a degree and frequency like never before.
In short, it’s been a tumultuous ride. And if I allow myself to dwell too long in the disappointment stemming from the might-have-beens-but-just-are-nots, it is all too easy to spiral down into a hopeless place. But in moments of clarity, when I’m able to gain some distance from myself and actually assess my reality for what it is, I can’t deny that my life thus far at nearly 30 has been richly blessed. It’s amazing how just an inkling of gratitude can pierce through the oppressive fog of hurt, confusion and apprehension. If I really believe that every day is a gift, that there is no guarantee of tomorrow, only today, and, most importantly, that my heavenly Father loves me and desires the best for me, then of what am I afraid? Why do I worry about whether I’ll be content in the future, if I’ll meet the one who will finally wipe him from my mind and heart, if I’m strong enough to face whatever lies ahead?
I’m not going to lie, it is a constant battle between what I understand intellectually to be true versus what I perceive and feel about my present circumstances. But when truth emerges on top, I experience genuine liberation and sheer joy. And those moments sustain me.