On turning 30 – a few jumbled thoughts

DISCLAIMER: This post is a couple of months old. I found it in my drafts folder the other evening and was rather surprised by its substance. 

I’m nine months into 30 now, the Paris attacks seem like an eon ago (with far too many similar horrors having followed in their wake), and Adri’s beautiful little Fia is motoring around their home on chubby hands and knees already (nothing like watching kids grow to make you realise just how brutal the passage of time is). But much of what I felt and anticipated here still rings true. 

I obviously thought it was no good/too personal to publish at the time, but since my sentiments haven’t changed, I’ve decided to put it out there anyway. Better late than never. Maybe I’ll follow it up with a few new insights in due course. 

In just over two weeks I will be turning the big THREE OH.

Now, look, I really haven’t been giving it much thought. The past few months have been far too full of change and adjustment and newness to get into a panic. Also, I’ve watched friends step over this threshold with so much joy and flair and style that it really doesn’t seem like too much of a big deal to me.

Every now and then, however, it does strike me as being something rather momentous.

Maybe it had something to do with… I don’t know… everything happening in the world. Violence and terror and protests and all the ugliness. And the immense beauty of those who have decided to be fearless in the face of evil. The tender strength of candles and flowers as opposed to the sickening power of bullets and bombs, as one Parisian father pointed out so magnificently to his little son. This global connection to little old me turning 30 is tenuous indeed, but still it’s there, as somehow, it feels like this new round number brings with it more gravity. A call for solidness. A challenge to fill my place in the world more purposefully than ever before. A need to define myself in terms of what I stand for more than what I stand against, the latter which is often the route we follow in our teens and our twenties.

It could also have been sparked by the privilege of watching one of my dearest friends stride so confidently toward motherhood. The growing belly contrasted so perfectly with her ever-slender frame and the light behind her eyes when she talks about, but mostly to, the already-beyond-beloved little being floating around inside there. The months of feeling sick to death, the tiny feet (which are apparently actually quite big) kicking against the confines of flesh and bone, the preparing and nesting and naming and planning… all so weird and wonderful and whimsical. And soon all the waiting will be over and a whole new era will begin.

Then there are the more tangible and personal things – the frown line between my eyes that somehow, sometime, somewhere became a permanent fixture. And that awful knowing beyond knowing that this is the price I will have to pay for going through my 20s without ever having invested in beauty treatments and regimes. It seemed fine – even brazenly appropriate – at the time, but now as it becomes clear that I haven’t won the genetic lottery when it comes to signs of aging, I kind of wish that I had done things a little differently.

There are the uncertainties about finances and whether I will ever be able to afford an overseas trip, let alone a home of my own. The inevitable comparisons of myself to my peers. The sleepless hours spent deliberating about career choices and worrying about the intricacies of conducting a successful relationship.

Fortunately, I have never been afraid of delving deep. These moments of turmoil don’t scare me.

Doubt and deliberation, contemplation and soul searching, an obsession with knowing who I am and trying (and often dismally failing) to stay true to that have accompanied me along the way. I’ve always been hyper aware of cause and effect, the yin and the yang, the ups and the downs. I’ve paid close attention to the fact that life is constantly in motion. That it moves in cycles. That, cycle-upon-cycle, it takes us forward, only to surprise us ever so often by revisiting old fears and pains, joys and hopes, ultimately allowing us to see just how far we’ve come with each rotation.

I’ve also learned that what we do in life really does echo in eternity. That a video clip of a Parisian father teaching his son that terror and fear and evil do not stand a chance against love and peace and beauty can spread across the world, igniting fires of courage as far as it goes.

That Adri chatting to the baby in her belly is setting the tone for a mother-daughter relationship that will last a lifetime.

That even though I’m all for learning to embrace my flaws, I better take my beauty routine as well as my yoga practice, my faith, my being a daughter, a sister, a friend, a cousin, a girlfriend up a notch as I mature.

So, on the eve of 30, it’s safe to say that the jitters are not so much about all the things I haven’t done and achieved and conquered (there are many), but rather about the things I am building on. The intuitive knowing that there will be another batch of leaving behind, of shedding and of letting go, which will always hurt a bit, but that there will also be a whole lot of rediscovery, of finding my singing voice and my story-telling voice, my piano fingers and my cooking fingers, my poetry and my prose, my photo face and my mirror face, of working through suppressed sorrows to reach a new level of crackling humour, of confronting the next battalion of fears and conquering them.

But most of all, I suspect 30 will bring with it a lot of realising that, really, it’s not so much about me.

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