On turning thirty, part 2

For those of you who were here last week, I mentioned that I freaked out a bit about turning thirty. This not-quite-mid-life-crisis lasted about two weeks, and then I realized something.



I'm an adult. I can do whatever the heck I want.
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I'm not saying I don't have to be a decent human being, or that I don't want to live up to the things that I believe in. But as long as I'm responsible at work, committed to my marriage, and kind to the people around me, I'm pretty much free to shape my life however I choose.

I'm no longer a child being trained by parents. I'm no longer a teenager navigating high school. I'm no longer a twenty-something trying to figure out who I am.

My peer group is no longer limited to school or work or my neighborhood. I don't have to try to fit in anymore, or worry about being lonely if I don't please a narrow sub-set of people. There's a whole world out there, full of interesting, quirky people and some of them will like me.

(Some of them won't, but that's okay too. I don't like everyone I meet either.)

I'm thirty. That means I've been practicing life for thirty years, and I have a pretty good idea about what makes me happy. And if I know that, why not just go with it?

So I'm simplifying, cutting out things that don't make me happy. I'm letting myself off the hook for not being a perfect housekeeper, or a educated career woman. I'm owning the things I love, like listening to country music in the car and watching 80's televisions shows. Reading fantasy and YA and mystery and old Tom Swift books. Dancing whenever good music plays, whether anyone is watching or not.
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And you know what? I can't wait to be forty and fifty and sixty. I'm getting better at life, and better at writing. I'm a happier and more content person now than I was ten years ago and, God willing, I'll be happier and more content ten years from now.

The world tells me that the life I love is not everything it should be.

But I'm an adult.  And my favorite thing about turning thirty? I don't have to listen.

12 comments:

  1. It's funny how life does get better with the passing years, and when you look back, (at least for me), I don't wish to go back to a previous age. The experiences and wisdom that come with plain old living are the most enriching, keeping me content wherever I am at the moment.

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  2. Joanne- I agree with you. When people say that high school/college were the best years of their life, I feel bad for them. That leaves a lot of mediocre years to live through. Getting better over time is a much happier plan, IMO.

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  3. I had issues with turning 30....it sounded old. Twenty-something sounds young...thirty-something does not. But I got over it (somewhat) and I'm happy with what I've accomplished in my 32 years.

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  4. At thirty I had a wife, two children, and a law practice trying to get off the ground. I had been taught that a man has a duty to fulfill. It matters not what he likes to do or what his dreams are and only the very lucky have their duties & responsibilities lineup with what they love to do or enables them to pursue their dreams. At the same time I was plodding along doing my duty I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder, something I had been unknowingly suffering from for a number of years. At that point you would think I would get a clue and screw my notions of duty and peruse my dreams. But I didn’t because I couldn’t figure out how to do that and support my family.

    Years pass, another daughter comes along, private school for the kids, we take in my nephew and I am still locked into the practice of law. Then it all came crashing down at the end of 1999. I had a melt down and was lucky I didn’t end up in a mental ward. So now I am an IT consultant. I like computers and on most days like what I do. But it is not what I love to do and not is my dream.

    So what is my dream? Well that is a bit hard to answer. Part of the answer takes us back to the statement made above about people who say that their college days were the best in their lives. When you are young and in college the world unfolds before as an almost unlimited vista of possibilities and you have so many choices. As you grow older more and more of those possibilities are lost. That vast vista narrows to a one lane road. I think that when a lot of people look back at their college years it is not so much the goofy revelry and friendships they miss as it is the loss of all those possibilities.

    So now at this point in my life I really only have one earthly dream left. That is to write a novel. I been playing with writing since I was in my thirties and never committed to it. Part of the lack of commitment was an unfounded notions I did not having anything to say and even if I did I lacked the tools to do so. The other part of the equation is I just did not have the intellectual fortitude of a John Gresham or Terry Brooks to write after putting in ungodly hours practicing law.

    Now, I have a job that pays the bills (barely) and gives me extra time to read and write. So what is the problem? The problem is at my age I may have missed this possibility as well. Sure I can write and need to do so. I can even say I am writing for myself and my kids, which would also be true. But it would be dishonest to say I didn’t care if I didn’t get published. And that is the crux of the problem. It is getting harder for older authors to break into the game. Sure if you write a great book it will be published, right? Well maybe. Some agents want young authors that they can bring along and hope they will have a long, prolific career and thus make lots of money; Editors also have those concerns as a well as making sure the writer is going to write for the current market. Then there is the cult of personality. So far writers have, for the most part, avoided the need to make public appearances to create a cult of personality. Sure they show up to market their books. But the focus is still on the books and not the author. But this can change and for a few very popular authors it already has.

    Miriam I am glad you have the freedom that you do at age 30. I envy you.

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  5. It's great that you're doing what you want. Life's too short not too. I guess that's why I work extra hours to follow my dream of being a writer as well as doing my job, raising a family, etc. I think we always have that freedom, no matter what our age.

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  6. Dude for real! I used to tell this to my students all the time, when they said they were living the best years of their lives. I'd snort and remind them of everything I could do that they couldn't. That sound cruel, now that I think about it... :)

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  7. I so agree with this post and have to work on being more like you. I sometimes fall back into the "what the world thinks of my life" mentality and all it does is make me feel bad. Like I'm not far enough along in my career @ 29. I'm not married = I'm an old maid. I don't have kids = better start soon or just not do it.... the list could go on. But I think "why should I have to fit into someone else's cookie cutter?" I am going to make my own cookie as long as I think it takes good then I'm ok with that.

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  8. I have a similar epiphany a week ago. It hit me that when I was a kid I couldn't wait to have my freedom, and now I have it, so I should start being more diligent about making my life how I want it.

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  9. Stephanie- That was kind of my problem with it too, it just doesn't sound as young as 29! :) But I'm beginning to think that young is overrated.

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  10. DR- This is going to sound cliche, (oh, no, cliche!) but you won't know if you have missed the possibility until you try. And by try, I mean write and finish a novel.

    And here's the thing I've learned about freedom so far. A sense of freedom doesn't come from having dreams, or achiving dreams, or feeling like you have time to do so. I think a sense of freedom comes from two things.

    1. Knowing that someone loves you just the way you are, warts and all. For me that's God and my husband, and my crazy family.

    2. Focusing on the little things that make you happy. For me I realized, I just can't control publishing or the economy. But I can control the day-to-day choices I make, like letting go of certain things, and hanging onto others.

    If none of these thoughts help, try this one. It takes a solid chunk of time to finish and rewrite a book. By the time you're ready to think about publication, the industry may have changed so much that none of your concerns will be a problem any more.

    Most of us could end up at small presses, with small advances, yet wider opportunities to be published. The whole thing could crash down, leaving most authors to go the ebook route. The zombie apocalypse could come.

    You won't know what the landscape looks like until you get there. So just write. I can think of at least a few people who are waiting to read it. :)

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  11. Natalie- SO TRUE! And so many books and movies have that premise too. It's never too late to be happier.

    Beth- Bwahahaha! I love that! Cruelty is underrated in my opinion.

    NRD- Yes. Yes, yes, YES! Make your own cookies! Mine are peanut butter/ butterscotch! *grin* (And hey, at least you have a grown-up job! Har.)

    Missed- You just summed up my whole post in one paragraph! That's awesome. :) As kids we are restricted by parents and teachers. As adults, most of our restrictions are the ones we give ourselves.

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  12. Well, I must have done something right to have such epic daughters. As for the Zombie apocalypse, I will watch your youngest sister for any portent of impending doom. Until then it is write, write, read, talk to wife, work, write, write, read. And per chance to sleep

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