Perhaps because I have young parents, I always assumed I would be married, have a career and a few wee ones to worry about before I turned 30. We’d live in a cute house decorated with mason jars and DIY projects. There would be a garden, a miniature goat who mowed the lawn, and I’d spend the majority of my days barefoot. We would name our kids things like “Courage” and “Marley,” give them space to grow into whatever they wanted to be, let them eat dirt. We’d form a family band and I would probably wear a lot of florals
This was my dream. (I was living on the beach, dating guys with dreadlocks, dancing in drum circles and consuming a lot of wheat grass in Santa Barbara when I came up with this, so . . . )
However. Here I am. A week left before I turn thirty. Taking stock of my life.
I am very single, in that post-breakup chapter where you ask “what went wrong? How did I make this mistake? Can I ever trust myself again to choose the right guy?” I live with my parents (out of necessity as I transition from North Carolina to Brazil, but it still feels lame). I own nothing. I make zero money at the moment, with thousands of dollars of debt. I’m quite chubby, having spent the last few months eating and drinking my feelings (and I had a lot of feelings). I’m self-conscious about interacting with people, as I mostly hung out with books and the internet for seven months. I don’t feel awesome.
Sometimes this makes it hard to watch the highlight reels on Facebook of how sweet everyone’s lives seem to be. But I am incredibly happy for friends who have things going for them at pivotal moments in our lives – engagements, marriages, houses, children, moving, good jobs. A lot of people seem to know what their purpose in life is, and are chasing the hell out of their dreams. I have friends with crazy cool careers, doing global things, recording music, acting, working at nonprofits, starting companies, becoming missionaries, defending the defenseless, making freaking adorable babies. I’m blown away by how much heart and talent and innovation there is among my generation. My friends are so accomplished and I am proud.
But I’m also hoping that there are more 30-somethings like me out there who are still kind of figuring things out. I hope the pool of available and awesome men isn’t shrinking too much as I frolic and flail around the earth. I will be moving to Brazil in July. I don’t know the country, nor the language, and am arguably under-qualified for the position. As excited as I am, a small part of me also asks “aren’t you setting back your ‘get married and have kids’ plan by several years by dancing on the beach for the next two?”
I look back and know that I escaped from a relationship that would have left me brokenhearted for the rest of my life. I know that I’m not defined by a relationship status, nor will I be made magically complete or more interesting once I do get married. That’s not what I’m looking for. And I’m fairly certain there is no hard and fast age or deadline by which I must have settled down with someone and have a set path in life. At the moment, I just want some warm hugs and high-fives on demand.
And I know that very few people ever have the chance or the balls to pack up and move out of state (check), let alone to a foreign country (check check! chances and balls all around!). So I have done and I am doing things. I’m making moves.
Maybe “thirty” isn’t going to look like what I thought it would when I was 21. But when I was 21, I also never thought I’d be a teacher, or learn Latin, or eat salad. So. Things change. I can surprise even myself.
From where I’m standing, looking ahead, I am hopeful that God has been teaching me things through this last year, and that the purpose for my life will be revealed to me as I keep trying to walk forward, take chances, make good choices and send selfies.