On Turning 29

On Turning 29

Yesterday was the first day of the last year of my twenties. 30 is now officially less than one year away, and there are so many things I thought I would do by then.

When I was a kid, I fully expected to be married by now, with one child here and another on the way. I expected to have written and published my first novel, to be living a quiet, eclectic life in a wide-windowed house near wood and water. In my watery, woodsy house, I would be untethered—free to nurture my various interests. I would write more books, compose songs, grow my own food, and go for long runs on trails, stopping only to take in the pristine beauty of nature, and occasionally, to swim in its glittering waters. I would disappear for days, weeks, months, at a time to produce masterpieces. (I’m not sure where I thought a husband and two small children would fit into this picture, but I would make the best wife and mother, according to child me, despite all of my engagements). I would then emerge from seclusion in the summers to coach youth sports and teach a creative writing class or two. I would be my own boss.

That is how I imagined my life would be near the end of my twenties.

But now I am unmarried and childless. I have a book that is perpetually ‘almost finished’ and is not ready to publish. I work a nine to five and choose between my hobbies, indulging each sporadically, when work permits it. I have no house in the woods, nor on the water.

And, yet, I am exactly as I feel I should be in this moment.

My twenties did not turn out the way I thought they would, the way I believed in my young heart they would. They were capricious and demanding and imperfect, and scary at times. I spent about two of those years in a pit of despair and deep, deep, deep dissatisfaction. I spent the years before that falling into that pit, and the years after climbing out of it. Midway through my twenties, I could not even imagine that I would make it this close to thirty.

I sincerely believed that I would not.

And here I am,
still dreaming and ready to work.

The life that I desire for myself will require strength, and my twenties have taught me to be strong. It will require endurance, and my twenties have taught me to endure. This life will require adaptability, and my twenties have taught me that, not only is there no such thing as ‘too late,’ but there’s also no finality in missed opportunities.

I have missed opportunities, and other doors have opened up. Another door will always open up, and my twenties have taught me to look for that door. When things do not go according to plan, it is not time to give up, it is time to make a new plan. It is time to adapt.

Failed plans do not diminish your goals.

That life I dreamed up for myself when I was a little girl? I still want it (most of it, anyhow), but I would not have appreciated it if success were to fall easily into my lap, they way I once believed it would. I will appreciate the struggles I overcame to achieve my goals, the hardships of my twenties. I will appreciate my own resilience and fortitude.

When you were younger, what did you imagine your life would be like now? If you have not met that goal, do you feel it’s too late?

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