Friday, March 8, 2013

Approaching 30

I'm going to be turning 30 in three months, and I'm not really sure how to feel about it.

It isn't the age. I do kind of feel like time is going too fast, and I give a little groan when I realize that I graduated from high school twelve years ago, and that "the '90s" were more like 15-20 years ago, rather than the "ten or so" figure in my head. But as far as actually getting older, PHYSICALLY getting older, it doesn't bother me. Besides, I'll be healthier at 30 than I was at 25, probably than I was at 20. And it will be nice to finally be able to tell my age again without wondering if people think I'm lying. So, as far as that all goes, I'm not dreading it. You could even say I'm looking forward to it.

The real problem is that I am nowhere near where I thought I would be ten or even five years ago. And maybe that's the bigger thing that everyone faces, especially for 30. Maybe the "getting older" thing doesn't kick in until 40, or 50, or 60, when there's more physical evidence. Not to say there's no difference between 20 and 30, but Pat feels it more than I do, I think. He'll say, "I'm not 21 anymore," especially after spending time with my brother and his friends (who, for the record, aren't 21 anymore either), because he doesn't have quite the energy he did back in college when he was more active, or because he can't go back for 3rds and 4ths and 5ths at dinner like he used to. Personally, I've never been in shape, and I will still stuff my face if I don't consciously stop myself, so I can't really relate to those signs of getting older.

No, for me it's that I feel like my life has been in limbo for so many years, that I haven't accomplished anything, and that I don't quite know how to go about fixing that. It's been a combination of life circumstances and my own failings, but one thing I know for certain is that even if I had a job just for the sake of having a job (you know, like a responsible person should), maybe I wouldn't feel like such a deadbeat, but I'd still be just as down about not being where I want to be. If Past Me knew it would be this long before we were having kids anyway, I would have gone straight on to grad school, or taken a year off to make some money and plan the wedding, and then gone back. I could have been done by now, or close to it, and working at something I actually care about. I put it off because I knew I couldn't handle school and starting a family, but obviously the second hasn't happened yet, which just makes me more depressed about the first slipping away. And it's not like we didn't have good reasons for waiting, for why we're still waiting . . . but I feel like it's gotten further and further outside of my control. And if only I could have known, my life could be SO different right now.

But enough of that.

I also feel like I've never really mastered certain things that an adult should have figured out by now. Part of it is just being socially awkward, and I don't see that ever really going away. But I think a lot of it is that I don't feel like I represent myself well. I've never really established any kind of personal style. I was thinking recently how the weather's getting warmer, and I might be done with my winter coat for the year. For me, that doesn't mean switching to a lighter jacket, it means wearing my NIU hoodie everywhere. It works great from a practical standpoint, but doesn't really do much for the whole "feeling like an adult" thing. If anything, it sort of makes me feel like a cartoon character.

So, buy a jacket, you say. But it's about more than just not having an alternative. It goes back to not knowing how to represent myself. What message do I send with my appearance? What message do I want to send? I mean, I'm always going to suck at talking to people, but it would be nice if I could at least feel confident up until I have to open my mouth. I've been hiding behind this damn hoodie for so long that I never really learned how to dress myself. Or to use makeup to my full advantage. Or jewelry. Or my hair, for that matter. I've discussed this before.

So often in recent years I've heard that the big secret to being an adult is that there is no big secret to being an adult. And maybe that's true. But, if that's the case, then I guess I don't really care about feeling like an adult, per se. But it sure would be nice to feel comfortable in my own skin, when I have to go out and face the world. And, while I might still be figuring out how to represent myself, I know I don't want to be the girl in the hoodie anymore. So, I guess that's what 30 means for me. After much introspection and soul searching . . .

It's time to start leaving the hoodie at home.


  1. You know, this sounds so familiar. The aging thing has never bothered me, mostly because I am constantly told I look younger than I actually am. I always wanted to be older than I was because I thought it would catapult me into a different world in which I became all the things I thought I would be at a certain age. Only, this never worked out for me. Like you said, I'm 25 now and I am nowhere near where I thought I'd be by now and I can't say this is for the better. The jury is still out on that one.

    I have no idea of fashion, I wear what I like may it be fashionable or not, as long as I like myself in it, it's all that matters because I have to feel good in it not someone else. Leaving that hoodie behind may not be the worst idea. Get a coat. Find something you like, for whatever reason and start from there. One clothing item at a time. This is probably not much help, sorry.

    1. Yeah, as far as the fashion thing goes, it's not that I want to dress in all the latest styles, it's that I want to figure out my own style, something that is comfortable but also makes me feel good. And, whether it actually makes sense or not, I guess I feel like if I stop "hiding behind the hoodie" the rest of it will fall into place. Maybe not quickly or easily, but I'll be forced to figure it out, rather than hiding behind what's familiar.

  2. My style has gone from soccer shorts and t-shirts to gothic to blah/suburban mom (I've gotten rid of all those clothes) back to punk rockish then on to graceful drapes and folds and now I feel like I have a nice mixture of styles to mix and match from. I won't ever have a "set" style-it feels too constricting-but I don't mind branching out and then going back to what I'm familiar with. Just remember, only you have to think it looks good. If you are confident, others will only see that confidence.

    And for ideas I like to look at magazines and wander around thrift stores. I don't like shopping at retail stores, they don't have enough variety and much of it is aimed at the really thin and skinny. Thrift stores and independent stores are treasure troves:)

    And don't feel badly about "hiding behind the hoodie". One thing I have learned is that regret and guilt only hinder. Let it go, move forward. And also, only change if you really want to. I'm an introvert and for many years thought something was wrong with me. I've come to accept and enjoy the non-social aspects of my personality, although my daughter's social proclivities are proving to be challenging:)

    1. Oh it's definitely something I want to do, it's just going to take a lot of experimenting. Because currently, when I put any effort whatsoever into my appearance, I feel like I'm pretending, so I'm not exactly comfortable... but at the same time, I'm not comfortable anymore going out in my hoodie, with no makeup, and my hair however it decided to fall when I got up in the morning either. So, I have to a) figure out how it is I want to look, and then b) get used to that being my new normal. And get it out of my head that everyone I see will be thinking that I'm trying too hard.