I’ve written a variety of posts in the past that are focused on growing older. 28 was a tough one for me (I don’t know why…it just felt like a real “adult” kind of age), and I’ve had small anxiety attacks prior to every birthday since 21 (*really?!?! another whole year went by?!??!*).
But now here
we I am, staring 30 directly in the face–I’m still not making eye contact with it, but I’m definitely looking at its forehead. In 5 days, I’m 30 years old. Three decades. 360 months. 1,565 weeks. 10,958 days. (Yes, I obviously used an internet program to figure all those fancy numbers out–Damn it, I’m a librarian, not a mathematician!) And it feels really damn scary. 30. 3o is the age they make movies about, you guys. 30 is the thing they made a whole *F*R*I*E*N*D*S episode about (I still need to make it one mile on a hippity hop) (and I should also work on using less parentheses in my writing, but I’ll save that for when I turn 40, because why not) (also, 40 is now a thing that is only 10 years away)(yikes).
Earlier this week I posted a quote from my very best friend about being a grown up. I called him two years ago during the I’m-turning-28-and-I-don’t-feel-like-a-grown-up panic attack and he said the best thing ever: “You know my favorite part of being a grown up? That I get to define what that means. Last night I had rum and M&Ms for dinner.”
And from there I’ve started thinking–whatever it is that I’m doing right now, it’s grown-up stuff. Because that’s what I am. A grown-up. And whatever I do with my life is ok, because as a grown-up, I can choose things and do them. I’m an adult and I’m fully capable of making life decisions. Crazy, right?
So. Here I go. I’m going to define grown-up according to 3o-year-old Rachel. Ready?
I have a husband whom I love. When I come home from work and he’s not here, I miss him. He does incredible things like washing the dishes and folding my clothes and listening to me ramble; he loves me without pause or question. And in turn, I take care of him; I cook him dinner and remind him to go to bed when he’s tired, I kiss him goodbye every morning and snuggle with him every night. I’m 30 and I’m in love with my significant other and our relationship.
I have friends. I have outstanding, extraordinary, in-it-to-win-it friends. They answer the phone when I call, they meet up when I invite them out, they listen when I talk, they commiserate and celebrate, they hate the same people I hate. They share wine and beer and food and laughs and love, and they know how to handle my various moods (my pals are downright heroic for forgiving what I say/do when I’m hangry). I’m 30 and I have the kind of friends that make me feel good about myself; I have friends that love me and understand me, friends that make me laugh, friends that let me be myself.
I have my family. I live around the corner from my in-laws, that extra mom and dad I’m so lucky to call my own. I’ve written before about how I can’t believe the odds–the number of times you read or watch or hear something about horrendous in-laws? And here I sit with a mother and father in-law who have always loved me like their own. My MIL works with me and has caught me more than once this year when something got too hard, in addition to the bajillion other things she’s done. My FIL sent me flowers on my first day of my new job, builds or buys me bookshelves whenever I run out of space (some people might call that an enabler, but I call it love) and neither of them have ever done anything but help me move forward in life.
And my mom? My poppa and my auntie and uncle? My various other aunts and uncles and cousins, etc? I don’t know if there’s a better word in another language, but perhaps one needs to be invented (because #blessed sounds dumb). “Lucky” doesn’t seem like enough. My mom jumps through hoops to help me in any way she can, and she never does anything except make me feel like my presence/my existence is the best thing in the entire world. When I was thinking about different jobs and stuck at an impasse, Pops said “Rach, whatever you do, you’ll be great at it. All that matters is that you’re happy.” Aunt Steffi and Uncle Hal have always been my home-away-from-home, encouraging me to be better, to work harder, to be happier–and to up my Euchre game. I have a family that loves me no matter what, a family who never hesitates to build me up and applaud me, a family that gives everything without asking for anything in return.
I have a career. When I left NYC, I knew “librarian” was next. And I did that. I got a Masters of Library Science. I worked for 3 years as a public librarian, and as I turn 30, I can say that I have successfully finished my first year as an elementary school “library teacher” (that’s what the kiddos call me, and I love it). I’ve attained a degree and am using it every day. I feel successful at work, I feel valued at work, I feel like I’m making a difference. I am *word-better-than-lucky* to be surrounded by colleagues that I enjoy and have fun with. I’m on a good path.
And yet–30 still sounds scary. 30 sounds “adult”. I’ve just described in detail all the reasons I am an adult, all the reasons that 30 is actually amazing–but it doesn’t make it less terrifying. I’m not in my 20s anymore. I’m almost a decade out of college. I’m a real, no excuses, no holds barred, adult. A real-life grown-up.
I guess what scares me is that through all of this, I’ve never felt like an adult. I still feel like someone gave me permissions I’m not supposed to have. I’m in charge of kids all day? I take care of 4 animals? I have to make decisions on a daily basis?!?! Who let this happen???
BUT. Harkening back to how this rambling piece started: being an adult is whatever I make of it. So here it is:
I’m 30, and sometimes I forget to feed the animals.Sometimes I go to bed at 8 o’clock. Occasionally I drink too much on a school night. I can’t afford the vet, and sometimes I sort of hope my pet will get better before I have to take them (sometimes that works and sometimes it doesn’t–thank God for Dr. Button)(I swear I never let them get actually super sick)(don’t call PETA). There are days when I really love Kyle, and there are days when I close the door and hide in my library. I have incredible friends, and sometimes they piss me off. Sometimes I flake on them and make them angry. My very best friend lives too many thousand miles away and I can’t afford to go visit, but I still get sad when he doesn’t come home. I left an incredible job in NYC at Random House and sometimes I regret it. On some nights I make fancy pants dinners with lots of ingredients and spices. Other nights we order Mark’s or have boxed mac and cheeses. I read lots of books or I get in a book reading slump. I am alternately inspiring to students and annoyed with students–I hope they only pay attention on the inspiring days.
What all this rambling and postulating is supposed to show is that at 30, while I struggle to understand if I am actually an adult (let alone a successful one), I am almost certainly something.
I am a librarian. I am a daughter, a wife, a niece, a cousin, a daughter-in-law. I’m a friend and a colleague. I’m a teacher and a student. I’m the proud momma to a bulldog and three cats. And I am thirty. In thirty years, I’ve become all of those things, and I guess that’s not so bad. Because above all? I am happy.
So, thirty? Bring it on.
(And you can bet I’m going to use the term ‘Thirty, Flirty, and Thriving’ as much as humanly possible in the next 365 days.)