Happy 30th To Me: A Short Essay on Leaving My 20s

Lying down and looking straight up at the camera is a blue eyed womxn. They wear a grey vest, with a white long-sleeve underneath. They have blue gems around their eyes, and colourful beaded necklaces. They looks happy, and thoughtful.
Photo by Yaroslav Shuraev on Pexels.com

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been told turning 30 is magical. It’s the age that changes everything. 30 is when confidence strikes, when one finally hones the art of not giving a fuck. I was counting down the days, convinced that at the stroke of midnight on May 10th, I would miraculously turn into a whole, functioning adult person. I imagine I’m not spoiling anything when I say that midnight came and went (as did my Cinderella fairytale), and I was left with the same me I’d known all along. Perhaps that is why it’s taken me a month to muster the courage (or inspiration?) to write this. I’ve been grieving, perhaps. Grieving a fantasy that I felt was promised to me.

Like every human on the planet, I have a unique back story – one I will not bore you with today. However, since the stroke of midnight, leading me into my 30th birthday last month, I’ve come to the conclusion that 30 isn’t so much a magical number, as it is the deserved checkpoint of our post-20-year-old experiences. It’s the mark that states, “you survived bad relationships, negative body image, low self-esteem, peer pressure, severing ties, losing friends, moving away from home, and dependency on other people’s opinions.” Nowhere does it say that we’ve been cured of all these things, nor immune to them moving forward. What it does say, however, is that our will and resilience to live and find peace is a foundation we wouldn’t have without the last decade of our lives. In other words, reflecting on my 20s, I realize that reaching 30 is just a tribute to my survival skills.

Specks in the Dark

Despite the ominous voice I write in at times, in RL, I’m an optimistic person. I see the good in people and situations. I rarely project my shit onto others and have learned to build emotional boundaries to block what others may project onto me. I’m empathetic, humble, and only internally narcissistic. I am fair, I have trouble finishing what I’ve started, and I bounce between perpetual-fatigue and mad energy-surges. I have too many passions, and can’t balance them. I live in extremes and am rarely not smiling. I get mad at myself often. I love people, but they make me nervous. I write better than I talk, mostly because I’m easily intimidated. I’m joyful, in essence.

Why should you care about these things?

Because they are simple truths that do not require change, but for many years change is all I focused on. How can I edit myself? I have a feeling I’m not alone in this.

Self-esteem is a layered reality and is very different than confidence. I, for a very long time, sought confidence in places I would never have it, simply because those areas were conflicting with who I am on a fundamental level. Trying to force confidence in an area that would never (could never) serve me, only diminished my self-esteem. In essence, self-esteem is self-respect. It’s understanding who you are – the good, the bad, and the ugly – and accepting it. There are, and always will be, foundational things about ourselves that we cannot change.

If turning 30 has shown me anything, it’s my light and dark; providing permission for me to accept both but working on the things that cause me pain and aren’t foundational to who I am (the wiring versus the downloads). Confidence is having faith in my abilities – writing, for example – but self-esteem is not feeling bad about the things I know I am not capable of (becoming a world-renowned mathematician, for example), but appreciating myself for the things I am capable of, and respecting who I am in the process of life.

I recently described myself to James as a piece of paper with multiple pencil holes punched through it. For a while I saw those holes as flaws. I thought I was losing myself in them, and that I needed to close them up. Turns out those holes – those inconsistencies – are what make me me; they let the light pass through, they are the exciting parts; the specks, the illuminations, in an otherwise dark place.

My light essence, my archetype, is a mix between Lara Croft and Cat Woman – Michelle Pfeiffer style. My darkness is Kylo Ren, the Joker (Joaquin Phoenix, only less murder-y). I swing from strong and sensual to insecure madness. One moment I have the world in the palm of my hand, the next I’m dancing in the street beneath the rain, screaming “fuck-you” to anyone who’ll listen. This is the human condition, and its brilliant. Eliminate one, and you can’t appreciate the other. Life is experienced in contrasts. Can you recognize this within yourself?

The Rules

There are rules in order to get through life peacefully. It doesn’t mean you won’t be up against hard times, in fact, the challenges are opportunities to prove yourself to yourself. You are not on this planet for anyone else, primarily. You can’t pour from an empty cup. Maybe the rules aren’t the same for everyone but reflecting back on my 20s – seeing the person I was one decade ago to who I am now – is the result of me following these fundamental things:

  1. Mindfulness, specifically body sensations. The body is of nature and contains an innate and transcendental wisdom. Listen and honor what it needs.
  2. Surround yourself with people who are wiser than you, bring out the best in you, or both.
  3. See yourself in everyone – listen and ask questions. Curiosity over judgment.
  4. Survivor mindset over victim mindset. Always!
  5. Control what you can control, let everything else go.
  6. Gratitude, breath, and laughter are life’s anchors.
  7. Peace and joy over pain and suffering. But if pain and suffering are the only options (because it can happen), lean into #6, plus patience and compassion.
  8. Self-integrity. No matter how many times you fail. Self-integrity!

30 is the Beginning

Wherever you are in your life journey, I hope you find peace there, and gratitude for how far you’ve come. If our lives are made of chapters, I can only hope this one is as thrilling and expansive as the last. If we’re not growing, we’re shrinking; if we’re not getting stronger, we’re dying. 30 is the new beginning for me, because I now know how to live with all the things that troubled me in my 20s – do you feel the same? If not, how can you get there? What rules are you missing?

And if put in place, what new beginning will open up for you?

Until next time, fuck well friends!

Quean Mo xx

So, tell me, where are you in life’s journey? what rules do you have set for yourself? How are they serving you? What does your new beginning look like? Comment below or contact me here – let’s talk about it!

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