A few days ago, I turned 29. Before too much longer, people won't feel the need to qualify my adult status with the word "young." The cushion between my current age and 30 is gone—which is a little disconcerting for someone who's been afraid of turning 30 since her early 20s.
Because somewhere along the line, I absorbed the "30 before 30" philosophy, the idea that you have to accomplish certain things before you turn 30. I think it started in high school when college was looming on my doorstep and the yearbook staff was asking seniors what their post–high school plans were (actually, I have no idea if the yearbook staff actually did that, and I was on the yearbook staff). So I made a plan. Several plans. I even made a pre-30s bucket list.
But I couldn't plan past 30. That version of me was too old to relate to, and at some point I started thinking that 30 was the end—if I didn't have it figured out by then, then it was too late. I'd have to schmooze around with my regrets for 70 years.
Not to mention 30 is a milestone age in LDS culture that no one wants to reach—if you're not married by 30, then you'll either be single for the rest of mortality or end up marrying a divorcé with three kids. (Or an apostle, and really, does anyone actually want to marry someone that busy and famous without the riches that typically come with that type of lifestyle?)*
*If you don't hear from me in the next few days, it's because I've been struck by lightning.
So I've been spending some time over the last few years trying to unlearn these crazy ideas so I wouldn't have to hit the panic button when I turned 29.
And I think it's working, because I don't feel like I'm standing at death's door. I can look at my past and be proud of my accomplishments, and look forward to my—gulp—30s where I will, yes, continue to experience new things. It still feels weird picturing myself in my 30s at all, but the point is, I can picture it. In fact, now that I'm pretty much an established adult with a stable life, I think my 30s will be easier than my 20s in a lot of ways.
Now that I've come to peace with the fact that I'm not the one person who will get to avoid this nasty aging business, I think I'll enjoy the last year in my 20s quite a bit (maybe I'll even find that ever-elusive perfect Ranch recipe, though I'm not holding my breath).
Provided I'm not hit with a quarter-life crisis in about six months.*
*Although I should probably just woman up and get used to calling it a mid-life crisis.