I heaved a huge sigh as my head rested on my husband’s chest. We were ready for bed, but he recognized the sign. I wanted to talk.
“What?” He asked me. Probably debating whether or not he should have pretended to be asleep.
“I’m really sad about turning 30,” I confessed. My birthday looming in the not-so-distant future was giving me more and more anxiety. Why was this such a big deal? It’s just one year older.
“How does it feel to be in your 30s?” I asked my 33-year-old husband.
“Old,” he replied. Half-jokingly.
“Seriously, I’m so sad I won’t be in my 20’s anymore,” I went on. “My 20’s were full of so much success. What if I’m a failure in my 30s? How could they be even better? What if it’s all downhill from here?”
I could feel him stifle a chuckle. But he held me tight, sensing my emotionally fragile state. And he addressed my concerns carefully.
“No,” my husband started. “Your 20s were great, but your 30s are going to be even better. There are a lot of fun things ahead for us.”
He is a man of few words, but the words he uses always touch me when I need them most.
Since that conversation, a realization hit me. Yes, my 20s were great. But they were all about accomplishing my anticipated lifelong goals and dreams.
My 20s were about winning awards, graduating college, buying a home, having my children, and acquiring my dream job.
We were blessed to go above and beyond that when we scratched and clawed our way from poor college students to strong adults. We managed to pay off all our loans and save for things we only dreamed of and literally had on our dream board: A new luxurious bed, upgraded camera equipment and computer gear, and vacations. To top it all off we landed on a limitless flexible career for myself, and a solid career for my husband.
We have been EXTREMELY BLESSED. But my 20s were about achieving the expected. Accomplishing the goals I had written down since I was 10, then specified and reaffirmed on a vision board in my early 20s.
Now I’m ready to put all of the hard work, positivity, and dedication toward those customary successes on autopilot. If my 20s were about achieving the expected, my 30s will be about accomplishing the unexpected. About doing what I want not for wealth or praise, but for my own personal happiness.
I want to learn to play piano. Really well. And I don’t just mean hymns for church. I want to be able to bust out Disney tunes and Adele Covers. I played the oboe in middle school but dropped musical curricular activities to focus on journalism classes. Piano lessons seemed like a waste of time when I was focused on advancing my career. Not in my 30s.
I want to become bilingual. I studied Spanish for five years but I’ve always been too embarrassed to practice with anyone. Not in my 30s.
I want to visit all of the Disney Parks around the world: Paris, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Beijing. And take my children with me to study about different countries and cultures. This seemed like too big of a dream in my 20s. Not in my 30s.
I want to read a thousand books.
And meet Oprah.
My 20s were about making babies. My 30s will be about raising them to be extraordinary citizens who will better society. I’ll dedicate this decade to helping them discover their passions and spirituality, and help them form strong roots about who they are, where they came from, and where they can go.
To people on the outside looking in, my 30s may seem like a plateau or even descent from where I’ve been. But behind the scenes I’ll be pushing myself to achieve immeasurable greatness.
So now I am ready.
So long tame dreams. So long to the expected. Goodbye 20s. It was great! But I’m in a new relationship with my 30s.