30 Before 30
In honor of my upcoming 30th birthday, I’ve researched countless “things to do before 30” lists. And while there are plenty to choose from, I kept coming back to “Thirty Things Every Woman Should Have and Should Know by the Time She’s 30.”
The List was originally published in Glamour by columnist Pamela Redmond Satran in 1997. Over the next 30 weeks, I’ll be tackling each item on The List and reflecting about it here… publicly (gulp). I hope you enjoy and we can grow together. After all, turning older is a privilege denied to many. Let’s begin!
By 30, you should have…
1. One old boyfriend you can imagine going back to and one who reminds you of how far you’ve come.
Wow, way to start us off with a doozy. I instantly cringed when I saw this was my FIRST item on The List to “obtain.” My relationship history is bumpy and painful, full of letdowns and lessons. But that’s exactly what this first essay, by Genevieve Field, is about: learning.
Field mentions the Buddhist teaching that “every relationship we have in our lives, whether it lasts five hours with a stranger on a plane or fifty years with our soulmate, is meant to teach us something.”
As painful as it can be to think about love lost, I’m also able to look back and see how much I’ve learned and how far I’ve come…
The man I can imagine going back to is my most recent ex — not because of the recency, but because I truly felt we were a great match with poor timing. Our relationship ended, obviously, and in a not-so-great way. Had he not let me go, though, I don’t think I’d have ever ended it. I was in love and believed he was worth working through our challenges, as resentful as I (didn’t realize I) was growing. We haven’t had any contact in a few months, but I wish him well and hope he’s working through his needs, just as I’ve been working through mine.
The man who reminds me how far I’ve come was not a boyfriend, per se, but a romantic relationship all the same. I’ve never been one to fake interest or depend on others, but I threw all that aside to “be” with him. I let myself be second fiddle to whatever else he had going on; I tried really hard to care about video games; I depended on him to be my social calendar and support system and lost myself in the process. Our few months together were the best — I thought — until I ended it after another dead-end conversation about our future, and 20/20 hindsight helped me see that I didn’t even like myself anymore.
There’s nothing wrong with me, or these two men, for these failed relationships. We’re each on our own journey, and there’s no telling where those roads will lead us. In the meantime, I can be grateful for the lessons I’ve gained from each of them (and that the tears have subsided since each breakup).
Looking back on your relationships, do you have someone you can imagine going back to, and someone who reminds you how far you’ve come? Let me know in the comments!