The Anti-wisdom of 30

April 30, 2015 § 2 Comments

Today was my last day of my twenties. A lover of middle-aged BAMFs, I’m more inclined to want to hit the fast forward button than to dread 30 like some of my peers. But the best place to be is always in the present, so I wanted to share with you where I am with myself rather than where I’m going.

I hate the “Things I Wish I Knew When I Was 20” Internet fluff articles because the thing about getting older is that you start to realize how much you don’t know. I knew a lot at 20, or at least I thought I did. Now I know a little about my own life, and I know that I want others to tell me about theirs. Listening to others forges a little venn diagram of our humanness that teaches, comforts, and challenges us. So I listen about half the time, and I don’t shut up the other half. But the balance is tipping.

At 30, I feel more gratitude than disgust when I think about the time I wasted on the wrong dudes. More pride than shame that I dropped out of divinity school when I knew it wasn’t right for me. Amusement rather than embarrassment that I have never really used my history degree. Patience instead of frustration that I still struggle with self-doubt and self-involvement.

So I guess that’s the catch, right? There’s no wisdom that I can share with you if you’re 22 because you just have to make the mistakes. You will do the dumb things. Date the wrong people. Maybe even get the graduate degree you’ll never use. It’s okay to be a quitter, but it’s also okay to not quite have the courage to quit and then learn from the experience.

Over the past 8 years, I’ve moved from Boston to Nashville to New Orleans to Austin to Tennessee and finally to DC. I’ve had a lot of jobs. A LOT OF JOBS. Consignment store lackee, domestic violence crisis hotline answerer, children’s book reviewer, newspaper reporter, 8th grade English teacher, juvenile justice researcher, substitute teacher, test prep tutor, diabetes researcher, vocational rehabilitation program coordinator, adult living skills trainer, family therapist, STEM classroom camera operator. And we can’t forget that one job I had where I got paid $50 an hour to read People magazine to Korean immigrants. That was the best one.

You see, I’m an excellent quitter. I won’t spend too long fighting something I don’t enjoy. I won’t leave friendships on life support that should really just end. I’m also, FINALLY, learning that there is no shame in being goofy. That all the facets of myself I spent so many years trying to hide, like fangirling, were actually the best things about me. And slowly but surely, I’m learning to not compete so much with other women. I spent so much of my 20s sizing up my appearance, intellect, status and self-worth with other women, and now all I want to do is cheer them on.

So that’s it. 30 is not just halfway to 60, as much as I joke about wanting to reach BAMFdom. There is nothing I should be or have or know because I’ve reached a multiple of ten. I am all the Kathleen’s I’ve ever been, and I’m learning to welcome them as company rather than embarrassing relatives you block on Facebook. And I’m excited for the versions of myself I’ve yet to meet, because they always seem to add just the right plot twist in my story.

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