Recently, my dear friend and I celebrated her 30th birthday. Twenty-nine had included some of the happiest times of her life—getting married to an amazing guy—and yet was also one of the most difficult years of her life as she battled breast cancer. For just a few sunny hours, we put all that aside and became silly 15-year-olds again. We gabbed and giggled over lunch, shopped for cheap, goofy sunglasses, took kissy-faced selfies and got our nails manicured in bright colors.
These days, our lives are filled with happy occasions, like attending lots of friends' weddings and watching as they start families of their own, coupled with work and familial responsibilities, financial concerns and just general anxieties about what the future may bring. Life is just a little more complicated than it was when we were teenagers.
This year, most of my friends are marking their 30th birthdays. And in a few months, I will join the club. As cliché as it sounds, I've been thinking a lot about this turning 30 thing and what it all means.
I look at my friends—the ones I have known for nearly three decades and the ones who have come into my life at various points along the way. I'm amazed at their accomplishments—the careers they've built, the families they've created and the people they've become. I feel profoundly grateful for those dear, true friendships that have transitioned from childhood into adulthood and am equally thankful for the rich, new relationships I've cultivated. And I look back at dissolved friendships, both with deep sadness at the loss and with recognition that not everything lasts forever.
I look at my family—my little sister who, though she is still a bossy seven-year-old in my mind, is now a doctor who will soon marry the little boy who has grown up before my eyes. I look at my parents with newfound respect at the lives they created for us and with renewed perspective as I contemplate starting a family of my own. I'm honored to be able to host my grandmothers in my home for holidays, creating their recipes and returning the favor after so many years.
And I look at my life: A growing, successful career with the same organization for over seven years, a wonderful husband, an adorable dog, a mortgage and a car—all the things that you think make you an adult when you're little. And yet, so often I find myself feeling more like that 15-year-old girl than the 30-year-old I'm supposed to be.
It's not that I'm dreading getting older, or turning 30—I'm looking forward to entering the next stage of my life as a 30-something. And I don't think I look or feel particularly old—I was recently asked while purchasing a video game for my husband for his birthday (are we grown-ups or what?) if I was indeed old enough to buy this game for ages 18 and over. I told the nice man behind the counter that he had made my day.
I guess it's just that even with all of life's complexities and richness, I simply thought I'd feel more grown up by the time I turned the big 3-0.
Then again, reflecting on that sunny afternoon with my friend, some moments in life have a tendency to make us feel a little too grown up—and every once in a while, whether you're 30 or 90, it's good to just let loose, take a selfie and feel like a teenager again.