I had a quick conversation with a dear friend the other day that has had the horror of growing up beside me for almost half of my life. He's seen me through a few different shades of hair, at least eleventeen different style changes, 2 study abroads, leaning how to wakeboard, 27 medical school rejections, 9 roomates, a broken heart, a trip to Vegas, 4 moves, countless debaucherous anecdotes, one boston terrier, finding my soulmate, 1 wedding, and 3 college degrees. We discussed my impending birthday and how crazy it is to be a certifiable "adult." As my thirties bear down on me, I'm weirdly calm about it.
I used to hatehatehate my birthday. On the cusp of turning 13, I opted for a pragmatic 12b. Even as a kid, I knew things got a lot more complicated when you were a teenager. I'd gotten really good at being a kid, I didn't want to give all of that up just because I had an ides of March birthday. So 12b I was for a good six months.
When I was 15, I managed to crash a car on the driving range mere weeks before the liberation my 16th birthday would have allowed with a driver's license. Aside from the shame exacted from everyone at school knowing I crashed a car in the school parking lot, I was a little relieved that the responsibility to maneuver 2 tons of metal down a windy mountain canyon each day had been delayed. I was still figuring out how to be a teenager, I wasn't ready to steer yet.
My 21st birthday, looked forward to by so many, found me driving my good-intentioned and quite inebriated roommates home after a single cranberry and vodka. My celebratory night on the town turned into an obligatory designated driver evening. And that was ok with me. I knew wasn't ready for the teeth of young adulthood. I quietly transitioned into my twenties. Mindful and terrified.
Now, with thirty staring me down like a mean girl at the mall, I find myself uncompelled to smooth my hair and reapply my Dr. Pepper Lip Smackers. I'm happy with the self-worth I've mined out of years and miles of muck and uncertainty. I finally feel comfortable in my own skin and my strong, amazing body. My need to dodge and tarry the oncoming years has dissolved into a comfortable state of acceptance and gratitude. I get to wake up every day. I get another opportunity to say "thank you," "I love you," and "I'm important."
I get the luxury of hindsight and perspective. And that is only possible with time.
Photo from 1999!