This time last year, I wrote a post about my anxiety about turning 30. My birthday is next week, and I’m happy to report that I survived my first year of this new decade!
A lot of the goals and life skills that I had begun to set in motion at this point last year have solidified into some Real Adult Habits and Practices.
I had begun to embark upon the wonderful world of cooking for the first time ever. I have since raised my bar and have amassed a collection of vegan cook books and have ventured into that weird world of “cheeze.” A caveat: I’m not vegan. I will never be vegan. Cashews will never be cheese. And I will still enjoy the occasional Taco Tuesday and Chicken Tikka Masala. I just don’t buy meat to cook for myself hardly ever anymore.
But I do have an amazing recipe of “Sunflower Mac” (vegan “mac and cheese” made out of soaked sunflower seeds.)
I still remember to feed my cat, even though sometimes it means leaving him extra large bowls of food if I’m spending the night at my boyfriend’s house. I have also recently learned that he (Chet the Dumpstercat, that is) is rather protective of me. When my summer roommate arrived at our housing without me there, Chet was pretty skeptical about this stranger barging into our home. It was only after I lived with my roommate without reacting like she was an intruder that he decided that she was okay. I guess that means I can nurture a living creature who even likes me most of the time! That’s real adulthood right there.
My 30th year also brought on my first relationship with a cisgender man since I was in my mid 20s. And my first truly healthy, measured, adult relationship…ever.
As I mentioned in an earlier post (one which made my father text me and ask “did I just read what I thought I just read?”) My vehemently anti-children stance has softened greatly over this past year. I had come to the realization that part of this stance stemmed from being with partners that I would not want to ever consider becoming a parent with. Partners with a lack of financial and emotional stability, coupled with my own personal career drives had convinced myself that it could never be possible, and just a huge headache with those partners. Something that sounded just plain awful.
As I’m getting older, realities are setting in. I’m enjoying settling down. I’ve been re-centering my life at a job with reasonable expectations for me and an emphasis on a work-life balance. I’m realizing that a family is something that could be possible, and something that, with the right partner, is something that I want.
The Big Goal I set for myself for my 30th year was to get a tattoo. It has been something that I have talked about for years, and something that people always assume I have and are then surprised when they find out I don’t. But I still can’t think of something I would like to have on my skin for the rest of my life, and I rather like my ghostly untarnished canvas of a body. This decision to abort mission was solidified when I was talking with a friend who has significant tattoos over the majority of his body. He told me that he and his heavily tattooed friend were talking one day and they decided that if they were to do it all over again, they actually wouldn’t get tattooed in the first place.
Well then. That was definitely a sign to halt any goals I had set for myself. There’s no going back (well, there is, but it’s super expensive and painful…)
So no tattoos were procured in my 30th year, and I’m happy about that.
As I have continued on the journey of knowing myself more fully, I am constantly surprising myself.
Yesterday is an example of something that filled me with so much joy that it baffled me.
I was out and about running errands. Over the summers, I work in a rural area for a major opera company and, now more than ever with this political climate and the confederate flags a’waving at some local houses, I feel the need to prove myself as non-threatening. I stick out like a sore thumb around here, and since the phrase “that girl with a shaved head over there is kinda freakin’ me out” has been uttered in a local bar, (yes, seriously) I realize that I am a somewhat threatening outsider. (When, in reality, I’m scared that I’ll get hate-crimed myself…)
Yesterday, I wore my Human Unlimited shirt that I adore:
I couldn’t decide if it spread more of a friendly message or more of a gay message, but I suppose it’s all in the person reading it.
At any rate, I became a lightning rod of conversations. While I was looking for cat food at Walmart, a middle-aged couple came up to me. “Tell me about that,” the man pointed to me. My chest-ish region.
Uh…my shirt? My boobs? My heart? I had no idea what he was getting at.
“Your…your uh…bluetooth thing,” he clarified.
Ahhhhh. I am rarely without my Samsung Level U wireless headphones wrapped around my neck. (This is not a paid advertisement, I just really love them…)
“I’m looking for a new one because my old one just died and I use it every day on the tractor and the guy back there,” he gestured towards the electronics section, “didn’t know anything about them.”
Well then. I’m definitely not a technology expert, but I did my best to explain how mine worked and sang its praises and added that they have different earbud attachments for more stability, as he was worried about the tractor jarring the earbuds out. We talked about it, in the middle of the aisle at Walmart, for over ten minutes.
We were people that would normally never have any reason to talk to each other. I’m probably pretty safe in assuming we voted for different people in the election. But he was a sweet and well-meaning person, and I helped him out with something that no one else seemed to be able to do in his life at that point.
This interaction filled me with an extra surge of love for my fellow humans. An extra touch of understanding and the realization that, at the end of the day, the “others” are just like me in most other ways. We all want to find a wireless bluetooth headset that will work for us, be it on our tractor or sewing machine. Or something like that.
I’ve blogged before about how I can be very closed off in public, especially when alone. And, to be fair, I still am a great deal of the time. But I’m learning, more and more, that sometimes these random interactions with strangers can be rewarding. If I’m open, I have bite-sized interactions from outside my very small, close-knit, incestuous world of the super liberal theatre community. And that’s good for both parties. I could be “that sweet girl with the shaved head we met that one time in the Walmart,” instead of that intimidating, threatening creature in the gay shirt and patent leather combat boots. And they could be that couple, just trying to understand some technology that can help make their simple lives a bit better. I know this is quaint and reductive, but that’s the jist.
My thirtieth year has also begun to be a time of mentorship. I’ve realized that I’m at an age where I am both young and “with it” and approachable enough to help younger people in personal and professional senses, but old enough to have some distance and, dare I say, wisdom, in those matters.
I’ve realized that I delight in the trust that someone gives me when they share their struggles with me and respect my advice and opinions.
I’ve learned that I swell like a proud parent when the interns I helped lead in a project succeed, and tell me that I’ve helped them learn so much.
My boss has told me that she would like for me to have more chances to mentor interns over the coming year, and this prospect excites me so much. It’s what I almost got killed by grad school for. I’m so thrilled to be entrusted to help instill the same love of building costumes for theatre in others. Or at least, a respect.
My twenties were a blur. They were full of ups and downs, a failed marriage, a deep dive into my sexuality and gender identity, education and struggles with mental illness. It was a time of setting into motion the tenants of my life. But I’m learning that my thirties are where it’s all really beginning. It has all led up to this, and now, I can begin to venture into this decade as a more whole person who knows myself deeply.
Come on, 31. I’m ready!