If you’ve known me for very long, you know I have a list of 30 things I wanted to do before I turned 30 years old. I wrote this list when I was 23 and my younger sister dared me to dream outside of the very small, comfortable life I had. It was a life spent taking care of other people and my only aspirations at the time were to continue caring for other people by fulfilling the expectations of (hetero) marriage and bearing children in a semi-small town, raising them in the same church and traditions I was in at the time. I remember when I wrote the list how daring it felt, how scared I was to dream that my life could be different, that it should be different.
I was on the cusp of leaving a cult I’d basically grown up in. Writing down that I wanted to order an actual drink at an actual bar felt like a dangerous admission. The fact that I hadn’t yet done that at 23 years old felt shameful. It’s only now at 29 that I finally feel some sense of confidence when approaching a bar to order a drink.
I dreamed about going to Europe, putting it on the list and never imagining it would actually happen. I certainly didn’t foresee living there for nearly 10 months and the ways my life would change for the better afterward. I went sledding in the Swiss Alps and tumbled and laughed until I was breathless. Small dreams are important to have and can bring the sweetest joy when we see them fulfilled. I was terrified to see a counselor, so I put it on the list as a challenge to myself. But I’m now in my 3rd round of therapy in 6 years and its the first one I feel I’m making significant progress with.
I didn’t complete everything on the list. There are still 6 things I haven’t done. My friends are going to take me out for karaoke this week to try to knock off the first thing on the list (sing in public). But, truth be told, I’m not terribly worried over the fact I have a few things left to cross off. Because I did so many of the things I thought would never happen. And I’m damn proud of myself.
A week from today I turn 30 years old. I can’t remember the last time I looked forward to something so much. I had some very wise co-workers in my mid-twenties who reassured me that the twenties are hard years. They are full of struggle, change, trial and error, lots of fun, but a lack of stability. They told me how much I had to look forward to in my 30’s and beyond. They showed me through examples in their own lives how life only improves with age and maturity. It was comforting to know that I wasn’t limping through “my best years” with growing pains. My best years are yet to be determined.
One day at 27 I woke up sobbing and wishing my 20’s to be over. I was in massage school, living with friends, sleeping on a twin bed, adjusting to anxiety medication, working/going to school over 12 hours each day… and I just wanted it to be over. Some days, I still feel that way. I know that hard days will not evaporate next week. But I know better now how resilient I am to them. Hard days, difficult seasons do pass.
I have evidence of this in the form of 4 sisters who are 10+years older. I’ve had a distant view of their years of struggle, growth, and in the last few years? I see them settling into so much health and beauty. They are proof that trauma does not limit you. Difficult things can be faced and worked through. Strong families can be built, in spite of the history of dysfunction. Their lives are evidence that the patterns set for me can be broken. There is so much to hope for.
In less than a month I’m going to relocate my life –again. I’m moving to an area of the country I’ve always wanted to live in. I’m getting out of Texas, out of the Deep South and headed to a place with 4 real seasons and mountains and friends and adventures I can’t even fathom yet. And I’m so excited. Turning 30 is turning into everything I hoped it would be.
Dare to dream, my friends. Some of those dreams may actually come true.