On turning 33. Who do you want to be?
Reflections on my 33rd birthday.
I still bite my nails, still throw my dirty laundry on the floor, still leave used dishes in the sink.
I can’t play the guitar, can’t knit, can’t paint.
I never finished that novel I started writing in college.
I haven’t had a boyfriend in over ten years.
I never became a dancer, an actor, a writer.
I don’t even have a career.
I’m still paying off my grad school loans.
I’m afraid of heights, of talking on the phone, of getting eaten by a shark.
I’m getting to the age where I should start having kids.
Yesterday I turned thirty-three, which is closer to thirty-five than to thirty. And thirty-five is closer to forty. And for some reason, I’m a bit freaked out.
I’ve met people who refused to turn thirty, those people who are perpetually twenty-nine, who reject moving into a new age bracket. Who reject turning 30. Who reject turning 31. Who reject turning 32. Who reject turning 33.
When I turned thirty, three years ago, I embraced it. Thirty was the year I quit my job and bought a one way ticket to Europe. Thirty was the year I started sleeping around, stopped overthinking everything. Thirty was the year I started doing things, living the life I wanted.
Some people say life begins at 30. And, while it might not for everyone, it certainly did for me.
And ever since I turned 30, my life has just gotten better and better.
So it’s not that I care about age, really. I mean, everyone is shocked when I tell them how old I am anyways, them thinking I’m about ten years younger. And I don’t feel thirty-three either.
But maybe that’s the problem.
I should have my life together by now. Right? I should have kicked all those bad habits. I should be self-sufficient. I should have fallen in love. I should know how to play the guitar.
I should know who I am and be the person I want to be.
I think of who I want to be physically. While I may never again be the 99 pound nymph I was in high school I could use to get back in shape. I should have stopped biting my nails thirty years ago. My style is always changing, slightly, but I feel like I’m settling into the look I feel is right for me. I no longer wear a lot of makeup, but every so often like some mascara or lipstick. I’ve learned that I only like t-shirts that are long enough to hit my hips. I like skinny jeans. I embrace the simplicity of throwing on a dress. I like wearing scarves even if it’s 90 degrees outside. I recently switched from a tiny fake-diamond nose stud to a small gold hoop and I love it. I’ve started dying my hair pink and no, I don’t think I’m too old for it. (I think what I just described is “hipster” — but believe me you won’t hear me listening to any music that no one else has ever heard of.) I have ideas for four or so tattoos that I want to get and I think I’m going to get them all.
I think of where I want to be mentally. I want to read more. Read everything. I want to be more up to date on current events even if the news makes me too sad or mad to ever want to know what’s going on. I want to be self-sufficient, have a career, whatever that career may be. I want to have more convictions and stick to them. I want to eat mostly vegetarian (well, pescatarian really, though I don’t plan on giving up meat entirely, especially as I travel and want to try everything and, you know, am competing in a hot dog eating contest.) I want to change the way I travel: go slower, volunteer more, move away from completely hostel-based living conditions. I guess I want my travels to have a bigger purpose. Whether it be for the world or for me.
I think of where I want to be creatively. I want to know how to play the guitar. I want to be able to draw something other than lopsided hearts. I want my blog to be something more than just my random thoughts. I want to write that novel I’ve always said I would. I want to dance every kind of dance.
So, I guess, I’m not quite where I want to be at thirty-three. But maybe, for the first time, I know exactly where and who I do want to be. So, I suppose I can only keep striving to be that person from here-on-in.
Some people refer to your 33rd birthday, your 33rd year, as your “Jesus Year.” Age 33 is thought, by many, to be the year Jesus was crucified. Age 33 is thought, by some, to therefore be a year of rebirth. A year of change. A year of growth. A year where your past is abandoned you can start anew.
Maybe there’s hope yet.
So, perhaps, by the time I’m thirty-five I’ll have everything together. Or Forty? Fifty? Please someone tell me that I’ll have my life in order by the time I’m fifty. Please?
Oh, and I don’t want children. Never have. Even my high-school-health-class husband high-school-health-class divorced me because I didn’t want to have egg babies. So the fact that I’ve actually cried, cried, recently, over the fact that I am getting too old to have children is impossibly ridiculous.
But, I suppose, I’m turning 33 years old, and it is what it is.
How about you? How old are you this year? What do you want to do at that age? Who do you want to be and what do you keep putting off? When do you think you’ll get there? Or are you one of those people who actually has their life in order, in which case…how did you manage that???
p.s. Last week two of my favorite (fine, favourite) travel bloggers mentioned my blog amongst their favorites, and I couldn’t be more touched by the kind words they had about me. Check out these posts from Backpacker Banter and Rexy Edventures.