30 Years of Moments

Office Decorated for 30
My coworkers were kind enough to decorate my office on my 30th birthday, to celebrate the arrival of my old age.

“Thirty was so strange for me.
I’ve really had to come to terms with the fact that I am now a walking and talking adult.”
-C.S. Lewis

My father turned 60 earlier this month. I know he won’t mind me saying so because he wrote an entire blog about it. For my Dad, “Sixty Ain’t No Big Thing” but still, we tend to give pause for birthdays that end in “0.” I turned 30 earlier this year and I’m happy to say that for me, thirty is a good thing.

If anyone reading this is under 30, you probably have some conception about what your life will be like by the time you reach the beginning of its fourth decade. Maybe you even have plans, goals you want to achieve, logically and chronologically organized on your “Things I Have To Do Before I’m Thirty and It All Goes Downhill” list. If this is you, you have my sincere admiration. I admire your ambition, your hopes and your ability to dream. Don’t ever lose that. But if I may, allow me to share with you the one thing I wish someone my age had told me when I was your age:

Don’t get too attached to your visions of the future. 

I truly don’t mean this in a cynical way. I don’t mean to imply that your dreams can’t come true or that you can’t achieve your goals. I simply mean to say that being overly attached to a single vision of your future makes you rigid and immutable, and you’re much too young to create such an inhospitable environment for an open mind.

My wise young friend Amanda didn’t miss anything – no one tells you what it’s really like when you’re unceremoniously dumped into adult life and have to navigate without a map. What’s amazing to me is that at 24, Amanda is already aware of something that eluded me well into the past decade of my life:

“The part that I completely missed about adulthood, the part no one told me, is I am now the person responsible for my own happiness.”

I took some unexpected turns in my 20’s and I got lost a lot. Maybe you will too, but don’t be afraid of not having a GPS to guide you turn-by-turn through this part of your existence. As it turns out, you learn a lot by being lost. You grow a lot by having to start over. You learn to challenge yourself – not just by achieving the socially accepted milestones of young adult life, but by questioning your preconceptions of the world around you and the people in it, by having the courage to change your perspective and by accepting that you’re not the center of the universe.

And here’s another thing:

Don’t listen to anyone who says it all goes downhill from anywhere.

My life at 30 bears almost no resemblance to what I thought it should be when I was 20. But I’m a much happier and a far better person at 30 than I was ten, five or even three years ago. I used to think that I would have it all figured out by now, but the only thing I’ve figured out is that that magical point never actually arrives. And why would we want it to? Why would we ever want to reach a point in our lives and wonder “What if this is as good as it gets?

Like my father, were I to summarize my 20’s, the final sentence would read “it ended well.” But I’ve also learned from him that life is about moments, not years and that it can’t be measured in decades. The advancement of one’s age does not, in and of itself, bring about happiness, even if the two appear to be correlated. It’s our responsibility at any age to find our own happiness within the passing moments.

Here’s to the moments after 30 – may I be grateful for all that there are.

4 thoughts on “30 Years of Moments

  1. As you have learned Faith, age is but a number, much like the speed limit signs on the side of the road. Some days you will go faster than you are supposed to and other days there will be unexpected detours that slow you down or take you off the road you thought you should be on. The important lesson for all of us is to keep going, adjust to what life throws at you, and get back on a path that you are comfortable with.

    Like you and your dad, we enjoy a unique relationship with our daughters who are now 36 and 32. They are our best friends and we get to spend a lot of time together doing things we never dreamed of as they charted their own courses to adulthood. If anybody had told me that at this young age (70) we would be blessed to have this kind of family, this kind of relationship, this joy and love with our adult kids as we grew older (but not old) together, I probably would not have believed them.

    I speak from experience when I tell you that the speed limit sign you have just passed is no indication of the fun, life experiences, joy and love that will continue to bless the great relationship you with your family and friends. Just remember to keep your foot on the gas, stay focused on the direction you are going in, forget the brakes and never look in the rear view mirror.

    Oh yea, happy birthday!

    1. Thanks Bob – I do consider myself fortunate and will continue charting my own course and enjoying the journey. If age sets the speed limit however, I look forward to getting much, much older 🙂

  2. Thirty years worth of moments brought you to where you are, and it’s a pretty good place. Those moments all matter, as do all the ones that follow. You ave always been an independent spirit, so you can continue to ignore what others say about life after 30. Life after 30 will be what you make it.

  3. happy birthday Faith, I really enjoyed way of thinking about getting older. I think it applies to any age not just 30. I am looking at turning 50 soon and believe me it looks nothing like what I thought any of my life would look like other then that I have a family. So enjoy the next decade of your adventures and keep you eyes open to new things and it just gets better from here.

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