Today, I am 30 years old. In the past few months, as a new decade began to rise up to meet me, I did not meet it with excitement and anticipation. I met it with stubborn resistance. I wasn’t ready for all I felt 30 entailed. A new decade felt like little more than a signifier that my life wasn’t on track. Surely by 30 I’d be more successful, healthier, stronger, more confident. Have a better career, a stable relationship. I felt like entering my 30s as a single woman with depression, brain injuries, and no savings to speak of would make it clear to the world that I am a failure.
As the date loomed nearer, my resistance began to shift. I started to see my birthday as less of a marker of my shortcomings and more as the inconsequential passing of time it actually is. I felt gratitude that (against daunting odds) I’d actually survived this long. Leaving my 20s wasn’t going to be a departure from youth and freedom, but a blossoming of new opportunities to grow and be better. My stubbornness began to melt into acceptance, gradually moving into something resembling excitement.
Each year on my birthday I like to choose a word for the year. Something that sums up what I want for myself in the coming year or what I’ve become in the last one.
The past year has often been difficult. 29 started with a funeral and not long after I experienced head trauma that followed me through the year. I found myself caught tight in depression’s grip, unsure of how to free myself. And I battled a loneliness I couldn’t reconcile with a life full of deep friendships. But I remained just hopeful enough to keep my heart soft and my soul tender. And that hope kept a tiny flame of joy alive.
My word for 29 was hopeful. And it carried me through to 30. This year I am choosing joyful. I do not want my life to be defined by its tragedies, nor my personality by its sadness. I want a life filled with joy and I want to spend this year seeking it out.
I am still immensely depressed a lot of the time, but on some days I fall so wildly in love with life it makes me catch my breath. I am constantly in awe of life’s simple pleasures and want to spend my time chasing those tiny joys. Brisk mornings on the beach, hot coffee in cold hands, warm sunshine and the way it reflects off the water, laughter with friends, the stars at night, the smell of sawdust and the feeling of wood forming into art beneath my hands.
I am not where I ever imagined I’d be at 30. But I think I might be somewhere better. I am excited to see the person I become in the next decade and all good things the universe brings my way. So here’s to 30. Let’s hope it’s my best year yet ❤️