I can’t sleep. I should, but it’s not happening because I can’t shut my brain off just yet.
It’s just after midnight on Thursday, May 15th, and today is the last day of my 30s.
It’s a day I never thought I would actually see. I can’t say I’ve been looking forward to it. It hasn’t seemed real to me, and I don’t feel prepared.
My friends keep telling me it’s no big deal, nothing to be afraid of, but I can’t help but be a bit sad. Because I always get a bit down on my birthday anyway (honestly, it’s the main reason I take the day off work every year; I’m just not that productive), and because this feels like the end of a long movie that I’ve enjoyed watching for all these years. The end credits are rolling and I have absolutely no idea what I’m going to do after I leave the theater.
It’s not necessarily “middle age”. If I take after my grandparents, I won’t hit my midway point until 45 or so. I know I look young to some (I still get carded occasionally). I try to count my blessings – I’m in near perfect health, I have few but exceptional friends, I have a beautiful small family, an engaging and challenging career and I live in the house that I used to daydream about owning someday. I am smarter than I’ve ever been, and I am in better shape today than I was at 25.
It’s just that I can’t stop ruminating about the things I had once thought, once hoped, once believed I’d get a chance to do: be uber successful, sow my wild oats, have a second child. Those things are probably not in the cards and I have to accept that. Years ago, when I imagined what turning 40 would be like, I dreaded not just the physical aspects of aging – the wrinkles, the jowls, the deteriorating joints – but things like my career stalling and feeling irrelevant, invisible to the vibrant world.
I’ve also lately been keenly feeling the loss of my beloved Grandma, my last living grandparent and my favorite relative. She died just before 5pm on New Year’s Eve, right at the end of last year. As I mentioned in a recent speech I gave at Toastmasters, I resemble her, I have a lot of her quirks and mannerisms and a lot of her loves are also mine. When she died, a very real piece of me left with her. Now that she’s gone, someone who truly cared about me and a major presence in my young life has vanished.
A couple of weeks ago, three days after Easter, my cat Bastet also died. I had gotten her the week after I got married, when I was 26. She had been my near-constant companion and another vestige of my youth. More loss, more sorrow, more reminders. It’s all interconnected.
And I loved being in my 30s. During this last decade I:
- Bought a house
- Became a blogger
- Finished my four-year degree
- Accepted a job at an amazing company
- Met a slew of interesting people
- Became a public speaker
- Became a runner
- Became a cyclist
- Became a leader
I should be feeling joy. I understand that. I also know that it’s my prerogative to be a little sad, even though it’s hard to relate to my reasons why. I’ll get over it, I have to. But before I can “smile because it happened” I have to get through the stage where I “cry because it’s over”.