I met up with a friend at the beach the other day. It was someone that I have never really known where I stand – are we friends? Do we even like one another? Do we really know each other? I hate living in unknowns. Whenever I have been in therapy and talked about my anxiety, that is my biggest trigger – the unknown. It has taken a long time for me to accept that I will either NOT know everything and have to embrace what comes at me, or I have to confront it and be honest. I chose the latter and finally just asked this person if we were friends. No bullshit, no lying, no excuses – and it worked. We spent nearly 4 hours together with our kids happily riding waves and getting sunburnt while we talked about anything and everything. It. Was. Great.Why is this important to me? One of the things we talked about is how once you turn 30 years old, you change. Even if you try not to change, you do. For me, the biggest thing is not to waste time on things and people I do not care about or am not invested into. I pointed out to this person that if I did not like you and/or care about you, I would not be spending time with you. This got me thinking of other things that have changed after I hit the big 3-0. Really, it was not so much this birthday but a gradually easing into the 30s, but I remember the changes in Andy at this stage and have noticed my own. Here are a few:
– I do not care about petty shit.
You do not like some person because they said a possibly offensive thing about you once? Do not care. You hate your current assignment? Suck it up, because it will not last forever. You have a minor problem with your house/kids/family? We ALL do. There are so many things that happen to everyone on a daily basis, and I cannot stand to be bogged down by things that are solvable or minor. I try to recognize the difference between an actual problem and an annoyance, which saves me a great deal of time and heartache. Also, as is related to this paragraph, I used to hate swearing – but as you can see, ain’t nobody got the time to correct the entire world.
– I am not investing time/money/emotions/effort in people that are not genuine or do not care.
I am from the Midwest, and I was raised to care for everyone and to help others whenever you can. As an adult, I have realized that not everyone operates this way. I say this often: People suck. There are selfish, users, abusers, liars, traitors, schemers, and ungrateful people. Not everyone, of course – but it is naive to think that everyone has the same values and ideas as yourself.
I recently wrote a post for Military Moms Blog about true friendship in the military, and I think the same principles I outlined in this post are relevant here. I can be nice and respectful, but friendship is something entirely different. I volunteer, I work, I interact with many people daily, and I can be nice. However, I am finding myself actively choosing to place more of an effort and value in those I truly like and I feel like me in return. I do not have enough time to impress people who do not care, and it is exhausting. I will always be nice, but when I show effort, you know that I truly care.
– I need sleep.
I used to operate on little sleep. I was a young mother in college, and I could make a full pot of coffee at 10 pm, stay up until 3 am to study, and still arise by 6:30 am for the children. Now, I am always tired. ALWAYS. Therefore, sleep is vital and important to me. I need it to be a better wife, mother, and functional human being.
– Healthy living has to be a priority.
Again, I spent much of my teens and early 20s with a fast metabolism. After 30, something terrible happens – you have to legitimately eat and exercise. I hate dieting, so I do not do that often. Instead, I try to eat and live as healthy as possible while still enjoying my life. I could crash diet like I did in my 20s, but this is just not productive anymore. I must focus on a healthy, balanced, and inventive life and diet. The benefit of living in new places is that I am exposed to new foods and ideas, so this helps from keeping meals stagnant. I do enjoy chocolate, wine, and plenty of caffeine, but I also try to balance this with exercise and diet. It is more of an effort than it used to be though.
– I have to confront my strengths and weaknesses.
I am a private, prideful person. I do not like to admit that I have weaknesses and failures. As I grow older, I am starting to realize that this is just as arrogant. Everyone has weaknesses. No one can be good and perfect at everything! It is difficult but I have to admit my shortcomings: I have anxiety that is irrational but manageable, I have low body self-esteem, and I am always feeling unsettled. On the other hand, I need to acknowledge my strengths: I am smart, I am can do ANYTHING I set my mind to, I can be flexible despite my anxiety, and I love unfailingly. I am a good mother and wife who is still trying to figure life out, and I will probably do this the rest of my life.
Instead of hiding these things or downplaying them, I find myself embracing it all. I do not want to hide behind these things anymore – I am Rachel, as I am, whether you like me or not. Something about growing older as an adult makes you want to hide less!
– My priorities have changed.
I have talked about this before, but even I cannot believe what a different person I can be from my teenage self. There are some elements that are the same – the desire to travel anywhere and everywhere, the organization, the ease of caring for others – but there are plenty of things that are different. I used to wish for the big house, the expensive things and large paycheck. Now, I just want to know that we have an income and a home, no matter what it looks like. Instead of fancy things, I want great experiences. While I would love to have a successful career, I now wish more than anything to matter in this world and to benefit society in some way. The girl with a Tiffany diamond engagement ring dreams and Prada fashion ads on her wall has traded these for Instagram shots of the places she has been and clothing her children before herself. I do not want fake friends or friendship for the sake of company; I want genuine people in my life. Instead of wealth and luxury, I choose life, travel, love, happiness, and living.
– Most importantly, I am me.
I think your 20s are a decade of growth and change. You try new things and either love or hate them. You go to college, you live in new places, you change your look a million times, you meet and interact with dozens of people, and you make many mistakes. Even though I married very young, I still feel that I was able to do this in my 20s. This decade is for figuring out who you are and what you like (notice I left out what you want to do with your life, because I truly believe that this is a fluid area of interest).
Once you hit 30 and older, there is some part of your brain that realizes that you are an adult – there is no turning back. I am not saying that you cannot change or develop different interests after this age, but you start to realize that you are you. Instead of adopting new habits or behaviors or changing your life for others, you begin to accept yourself as is. I am Rachel – almost 33 years old, an avid reader, a cautious adventurer, a wife and mother, a damn good sister from afar, and a compassionate person. I may move states and countries, and I may change my look, but I am Rachel, through and through. The beauty of this is that it frees you. So I do not like to go out clubbing until 4 am – okay. So I am not the person to sign up for a Spartan race or to plan a weekend away with – okay. I will always be where I promise to be, I can plan an event with a minimal budget and resources, I can make nice with nearly anyone, and I will bend over backwards for the people I love. I am Rachel – take it or leave it.
I used to fear the age of 30 but as I have eased into this decade, I think I am enjoying it more than expected. There is a certain confidence of oneself with this age. I am terrified of death at a certain point, but knowing that I have both lived and survived in this world for at least a third of my life has a certain element of satisfaction to it. I have seen what I feel is satisfactory for my young life, and I know what I want in my life and who I am. If I am your friend, you take me as this – daughter, wife, mother, book nerd, coffee addict, traveler, food lover, queen of sarcasm, and crazy over scheduler. As I pointed out to my friend, I am more genuine than I used to be, and if I did not want to be here, I would not. This is 32 and 1/2, and I live my life with intention, love, purpose, and a bit of unpredictability. I’m sure that when I hit 42 and 1/2, I will be writing an entirely new perspective but until then…this is 32 and 1/2.