But I am still on this side. And it is still hard. Not to disparage the remarks of friends who offer their counsel so lovingly, but the reality is turning 30 is hard for me. I never thought I would be this person. I've wanted to be 30 since I was 23, aching for a time when I would "have it all figured out." When I would be "good at life." It isn’t hard because my life doesn't look a certain way, because I don't have a husband or children or a house or a dog. It is hard because it is all still so much of a struggle. Because I don't have shit figured out. Because I still have to work to brush my teeth twice a day and go to bed on time; to relax and breathe; to use my free time wisely; to invest in relationships that are deeply loving and hence deeply conflicted; to count my many blessings. At 23 I honestly believed that things would get easier as I got older.
But they haven't.
I know what some of you will say. That things WILL eventually get easier, and maybe that's true too. But I think the problem here is that I'm still clinging to the idea of ease. That being "good at life" means life is easy, and that isn't true.
I feel like a broken record when I say we live in a world where we are inundated with the idea that if we can just imagine things they will be. All we have to do is put an idea out into the universe, and it will come back to us. A woman wishes very hard for a husband, and then she finds one. She congratulates herself on never giving up hope. An unhappily employed man wishes for a new job, he gets one. He did that for himself. He envisioned that job. So many of us confuse luck and personal power.
It's a nice idea, but I don't buy it. If I learned one thing in my 20s it's that all you have to do is open your eyes to the world to see the deep, abiding struggle in it. To see individuals in bondage to a system that does not care for or about them, to see loved ones fighting for basic human rights, to see hurt, pain, greed, intolerance and hate.
This sounds dire even to me. Except that the struggle to see can be joyous. My 20 year-old self associates joy with ease. If things were easier I'd be happier. If I had more money, if I was thinner and hence more beautiful according to cultural standards I'd be happier, if I had a husband, if I didn't have an eating disorder, if I liked salad more, if if if if I would be happier. I've spent the past 10 years trying the same thing over and over again. I thought I could wish life easy. I thought I could fight against the world in myself, ignoring oppression, racism, abuses, pain because if those things exist life cannot be easy.
And they do exist. And so... And so...
I turn 30 on Saturday. I will still wear bright colors and crinolines, I will still push inappropriate jokes to the point where Jan cries, "DEBORAH!" I will continue to feel angry about injustice. I will continue to obsess over Peter Dinklage in a teenage girl sort of way, and love popular music. My opinions will still be aggressive and angry. I will still throw my head back when I laugh. I will still be a Debbie Downer at parties. I will still squeal over poofy dogs and fat cats, and I will most certainly still wear my teal, lensless glasses. To be honest I feel like the one thing I want to stop is saying, "When I grow up, I want to..."
Cause here it is. Hell or high water, this is adulthood.
I look back on my 20 year old self and feel sad for her. At 20, I dreamed of having a husband and children and a finally thin body. My scope was so small. I thought all happiness was in those 3 things. And here I am a husbandless, childless 30-year-old fat woman, and there is so much joy in me. I didn't know how good things could be, or how much goodness could look and feel like grief.