Staring Down the Barrel

Standing in front of the bathroom mirror, blow drier on full blast, my twenties caught sight of my reflection and began to point and laugh. A lone, gray hair, typically tucked away, wavered prominently across my face. 

Despite my best efforts to tame this ghostly strand, it danced joyfully with the blow drier, dodged the comb, and continued to dangle between my eyes - forcing my gaze into the future.

My thirtieth birthday is one month away and while I've been coyly ignoring its significance in conversation with others, I know I'm not quite ready to leave my current decade. My twenties existed in an epic balance between adventure and destruction, joy and anguish and have ultimately landed me in a life more full than I could have imagined. 

On one hand, I totally deserve gray hair. I hate music festivals (so much litter!), I prefer an early morning farmer's market over a night of cocktails, and I'm usually in bed by 9:30. On the other hand, sometimes I miss tube tops and playing King's Cup and having hangovers that only last one day (seriously, when did two day hangovers start?).

But really, what I'm most worried about in this transition to thirty is losing the exponential growth, adventure, and potential I've had over this past decade. 

In just ten years, I've grown from an intern to an Executive Director, from a terrified solo traveler to a seasoned explorer, from an insecure and slightly insane girlfriend to a stable and life-long partner. This decade, against all odds, has shaped me into an actual adult.

My twenties didn't care about my fears or my meltdowns or my adamant resistance to change. My twenties roared into action - pushing and molding and challenging me to become more. So much more. And now, as I exit this decade which has done so much for me, what happens if the next one falls flat? 

As I visualize my preconceived ideas of what it means to be thirty-something, I find myself staring down the barrel of stagnation. Will there still be growth? Will there still be adventure? Will there still be excitement? Or, will it just be all laundry and mortgage payments?

Washing Mae Lee Wan in a river in Thailand. How could my 30s possibly be better than this?

Washing Mae Lee Wan in a river in Thailand. How could my 30s possibly be better than this?

Perhaps this is the last lesson of my twenties - the decade that wouldn't take no for an answer. Maybe, as I exit this decade of expansion and exploration and step into this new chapter, my twenties are here to prove that, simply, life is what you make it.

These past ten years have forced me to build a foundation of self-awareness, confidence, and passion. Now, it's time to put the many lessons of my twenties to work. There is no set path, no delineated outcome, no promise of stagnation once I turn 30. The only guarantee is that my life will continue in the direction in which I am determined to go. 

There has not yet been a single moment in adulthood when I've thought to myself, "Yep, this is exactly what I expected," and I intend to keep it that way.

Bring it on, 30. I'm ready.