Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Big Three O.

I decided a couple of days ago that I should acknowledge my birthday this year on my blog, since it is the “big 3-0.” At first, I was going to title this “30 Is Still the New 20, right?” or something to the effect of trying to emotionally coddle myself into believing that my 20s were the time of my life (and that from a beauty standpoint, I’ll never look as good as I did when I was 20-years-old.)

But then I realized that my 20s honestly were hell, for at least 8 out of those 10 years.

During my 20s, I battled depression, dropped in and out of college, drank myself silly, got 2 DUIs, invested in a relationship that caused me nothing but heartache and time wasted, and although I did have some jobs that could brighten up my resume, I mainly worked in various bars and Applebee’s. My ambition wasn’t necessarily low, but for every year I wasted doing things to make me feel better rather than be better, I became all too aware that my “moment” was passing right by me, one rapid, head-spinning year at a time.

Many of those years are a blur. I tried riffling through some of my old pictures (most of which are packed away on my external hard drive, because I honestly don’t want to remember them), and I had a hard time figuring out how old I might’ve been in some of them, or what order things happened in… Maybe that’s just my old age now! But piecing together the haze that is my 20s is an ordeal that sends a numbing pain through me. Those years are nothing but a motley crew of regrets.

I did however find some relevant pictures. And instead of being overwhelmed by bad memories, something interesting happened: I realized that I may have just gotten better looking with age.

The first photograph is of me when I was maybe 19, though I can’t exactly remember. The sepia tone of the photo I’m sure helped to hide some of the acne I was struggling with. I was also most assuredly intoxicated when the picture was taken, as was the norm for me back then. The second photograph was taken only a couple of months ago. I’m sure that today, I have a few more lines on my face, but they are lines that I’m learning to love. And maybe it’s just that I now know how to fill in my eyebrows, but… I much prefer the 30-year-old me.

This “before” photo is of me and my friend Jen on our birthdays; I was turning 25…? I think it’s 25. As you can tell we had been living it up that night, and I recall that it was in the wee hours of the morning when that photo was taken of us. Though I did always enjoy my time out with my lovely friend, I wish someone had told us how haggard we were starting to look! We look like we need to just go home and get some beauty sleep, am I right? This is probably one of the least flattering photos of me that I have of myself. And I remember as I was throwing back shots of tequila that night with her that I justified all of it and my “quarter-life crisis,” as John Mayer once put it.

The second photo is of me on my 28th birthday, blissfully pregnant and as happy as I could be. Perhaps it’s the pregnancy glow or the glow of new sobriety, but this photo is one of my favorite photos of myself and is framed and hanging on our wall in our home.

A popular adage today is that “30 is the New 20.” I read in Psychology Today that this idea has helped breed an entire generation of youth who believe that their 20s are now a time to live it up, make mistakes and squelch their ambitions, and then at 30 finally get down to business. And so now we have a plethora of 30-somethings who are just now learning how to build their careers, have meaningful relationships, and discover who they really are.

Though I agree, I have to say here that there are plenty of people my age who didn’t waste those 10 years like I did. I am a somewhat special case and don’t for a second think that everyone who chose to drink and party and work in restaurants when they were in their 20s made even half the mistakes that I did. This post isn’t a judgement towards anyone. I’m reminiscing about my own time not well spent…

I am a big believer that things happen with a reason in mind. Six days after my 26th birthday, I met the man who would change my life, my husband Christopher. And at 28, I had our daughter, Julia, who has changed the person I aim to be. I know that if many of those past mistakes and regrets and bad choices hadn’t happened, it would’ve changed the trajectory of my life, and I wouldn’t have these two wonderful people here with me.

Now I’m 30. And yes, I look back all the time and kick myself for not having done all the things I believed I would’ve done- finished college, started a legitmate writing career, etcetera etcetera. But I’m just now understanding that 30 isn’t some magical cut-off point for dreams or careers or education or beauty (especially!) I look forward to my 30s like you wouldn’t believe! I feel like the next ten years are going to be the real “time of my life” when I actually claim that life back and decide to treat it and myself better.

And so, at the risk of this post turning into a highly-validated Bridget Jones moment, I’m going to go munch on some of my homemade paleo peaches and cream cake and then doll myself up for my girls’ outing tonight. J

Stay lovely.

P.S. For all things Housewifey, visit my other blog The Domestic Muse


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