As the final minutes of my 20’s melt away into oblivion, I am struck by the lack of alarm I expected to feel about entering a new decade of my life. When I was younger, I always thought turning 30 was going to be a full-on existential crisis, complete with tears, locking oneself in a bathroom, and a drastic haircut. I expected it to be kind of like a bad break-up on steroids. Yet, now that 30 is actually here, instead of feeling the anticipated pressures, I feel exactly the same as I did when I was 29, but thankfully NOT the same as I did when I was 20.
Rather than trying to figure out what I want to be when I “grow up”, getting married, and/or having children, I’m focused on who I am, right now. I was an unsure, timid young woman and now am a slightly older, still young, woman. Now I have the confidence to discover who I am and what I want as I continue to hit the snooze button on my biological clock.
Instead of this being a milestone, I’m looking at my entrance into the 30-something club as a continuation of my never-ending journey to improve myself. My 20’s were a great time, but like many cordial relationships, that change with time, we simply have grown apart. For the sake of closure, here is my Dear John letter to you, 20s.
You have been great, but it’s time to move on. I’ve learned a lot from you and will be forever grateful for the lessons you’ve taught me.
Thank you, 20’s, for teaching me that it is ok, and even normal, to quit a “safe” job to pursue endeavors that will make me happy. Thank you for giving me the confidence to actually go through with such a big decision, as well as the strength to defend this choice to dubious spectators.
I will be forever grateful to you, 20’s, for helping me learn that “shots” are NEVER a good idea. Even if they have been paid for, a group of friends are raising their glasses in the air and waiting for you to join in; you proved that it’s acceptable – and advisable – to decline partaking in this ritual. The strength of hangovers grows exponentially after college.
You showed me that maintaining poise and dignity in difficult situations (see: messy break-ups) is a virtue. Sometimes a really, really difficult virtue to stick to; the high road might seem like the long way, but it’s an easier ride than the low road in the end.
I am forever in your debt, 20s, for guiding me to the realization that I should never settle – whether it’s a new outfit, a job, or a relationship, it doesn’t need to be perfect, but it does need to be just right for me. Clothes that don’t quite fit or go with anything I own always sit in my closet for years without use. The space and money they take up are a waste – as are the situations and people we get involved with that we know are wrong for us. The job I worked for so long out of fear of the uncertainty of leaving, or the long-term relationship that I stayed in because of outside expectations rather than my own happiness, are perfect examples. Thank you, 20’s, for aiding me in making life-changing decisions that allow me to stretch for what I really want instead of accepting what is safely within my reach.
And finally, thank you, 20’s, for showing me what I am made of. The past ten years have presented me with some of my highest highs, and definitely my lowest lows. Through the good times and the bad, you never let me quit, and you made me prove to myself just how strong I am. Even though it is time to say goodbye, I will carry my memories of you with me forever, as I experience new highs, new lows, and maybe even a drastic haircut or two.
Me at 30