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.
By 30, you should have…
5. A youth you’re content to move beyond.
This week’s essay, written by ZZ Packer, particularly resonated with me at the onset of this New Year. Packer writes about a boyfriend she loved in her youth — and his tragic death years later, when they’d each married other partners and had children and lived a million new truths since.
Packer writes, “Most of us fear that in growing old, we’ll become a shell of ourselves. But, of course, it’s the youthful versions of ourselves that are our shells; we must leave them behind like a snakeskin.”
It’s all too easy to be wistful about getting older — there are so many things we haven’t done or seen or accomplished in this past trip around the sun. We don’t always see aging as an opportunity to continue to grow, and to be OK with leaving some of our past behind. It doesn’t mean we’re losing who we are; it means we’re gaining who we’ve become.
I look at the mistakes and memories of my life up until now, and hindsight will forever remain 20/20. There are choices I’d maybe make differently, or not, because then those lessons might not have been learned. I’d love to have avoided the heartbreak or hurt, but again, those fractures have helped make me who I am today, scars and all.
I certainly never wanted high school or college to be “the best time of my life,” because that would mean I wasn’t living in the best time; I’d have already peaked, so to speak. I know not every day (or week, month or even year) will be my best ever, but I hope each chapter of life brings new excitement and positivity I haven’t yet experienced.
And while I’m fully ready to move beyond the zits and drama my younger self endured, I hope my future self is shaping up to be a woman who can look back at 30, 60, 90 (please?), and be content with all she’s done and seen and accomplished.
Like Packer believes, I too aim to “grow old gratefully, not gracefully.” She continues, “… youth is not the blossom, but the bud; and though one cannot always be young and wild, if you are willing to learn, to grow, to outrun the mileposts of your own wildest dreams, you can always be winsome and lucky, lovely and free.”
Give me a good theme and watch me work.