Tuesday, October 6, 2015

In My Next 30 Years


I remember listening to this Tim McGraw song when I was younger. I thought it was pretty clever, all about the things he was going to do in his NEXT 30 years...watch his weight, hang out with his family, drink less beer. I think he might have alluded to finding God again. It made 30 seem old. Ancient. Hang up your hats, guys, your fun is over, time to settle down.

I've been thinking a lot about ten years ago. I spent the last night of my teens crying. I was living in a little apartment on Highland Avenue with an older guy and I loved the novelty of being his teenage girlfriend. I liked being younger than all the people I went to college with. I wanted to do everything quickly, so I could do it YOUNG- get married, have kids, start my career.  Last night, in the last night of my twenties, I made my grandmother's banana bread, kissed my kids goodnight, and pretended to work out while I read a book on the treadmill. I thought about my full, full life and how glad I am that it's impossible to get your 19-year-old wish of staying "young" forever.

I'm 30 today. I kind of hoped I'd wake up with some blast of maturity and knowledge, but I fell asleep on the couch watching The Fly when I snapped to at 3:50 am, curled into a weird position with drool drying on my chin, I thought, "HOLY SHIT, I'm 30!" and went to bed without washing my face. I guess it's going to take the legwork to keep getting awesomer, but I'm definitely finding it easier with each passing year.  Here are a few things I figured out so far.

GIRLFRIENDS ARE KEY
I've sucked at this for most of the first third of my life. I could blame it on losing my dad (I've tried to justify it in this way) but in all honesty, I know that my personality craves attention, and male attention most of all. Especially in high school and my early college months, I would often go after relationships with guys, romantic or platonic, at the expense of my female friendships. I never claimed to be one of those "girls who gets along better with guys" [I heavily side-eye this statement from anyone], but I was a crappy friend to lots of people who deserved better treatment. I'm sorry.

At this point in my life, I'm finally in relationships with several women who are EVERYTHING to me: therapist, confidante, mentor, hilarious entertainment. Home. These are the people who diagnose my symptoms when I can't tell if I should call the doctor, indulge me with hours of talking about young adult literature, tell me when I need to get over myself and apologize to my husband, suggest gymnastics camps for my toddlers, leave love notes on my desk at work, text me articles about my favorite fandoms, or show up with Thai food on the night before my birthday. Some of these women I see every day, and some of them are only a text or a call from me, but all of them make my life SO much richer. I wish I had realized how much better I could be if I invested in the female friendships that I was so lucky to have in high school and college. WHATEVER AGE YOU ARE, GIRLFRIENDS ARE KEY.

SLOW DOWN
To a sloth's pace. I'm not going to reference two country songs in one post, but there's an Alan Jackson song called You're Gonna Miss This, and now I've done it. STOP RUSHING. There is time, and if you allow yourself to have it, you might come to a better decision. Lots of what I did in my twenties is because I thought it was what was NEXT. I'm dating someone. Next is getting married! I'm in an apartment. Must be time for a house! I've graduated college. QUICK, get a job with a ridiculously high level of responsibility that directly affects LIVES! 

I want to be clear that I love my husband and I'm fond of my house and I'm proud to be in my 9th year of teaching. But I did things without thinking. I was lucky that Ben turned out to be such an incredible husband and father, because I married him after knowing him for two years, one of which was while I was a teen and legally brain dead [I actually think teens are legally brain dead, at least all the ones like me who AREN'T inventing things and solving major social problems]. I got into teaching because someone said I was good at with kids, and I never thought much about my own personal goals at any point during college or afterwards. Right now, I'm fairly certain that I would like to explore a career working with books and writing. Maybe teaching at a higher level, or the ultimate goal- LIBRARIAN? But I am going slllloooowwww. Gathering information. Feeling myself out. There's no need to rush.

TAKE CARE
of your butt. I have reached (at a somewhat early date) the point where I am literally exercising for no other reason than to stay alive. Actually, I just want to be able to go on amusement park rides and not have to replace my beloved brown autumn jacket. As much as I want to love myself and my skin and I firmly believe that my worth is not equated to my size, I know that I have a family history of health problems and I want to stick around. I wish I had spent a little more time on fitness FOR THE RIGHT REASONS. It would have been less depressing and easier to stick to. 

I spent lots of time in twenties waiting to become someone else. I pictured her- she was gorgeous, ultimate, ideal, skinny, funny, quirky with no uncomfortable weirdness. She had a perfect wardrobe of boyfriend tshirts, converse sneaks, and bright dresses. She kept a clean house, an organized desk at work, read all the most literary titles, and was never afraid of the obscure horror movies her husband watched. The saddest part of this is that I really thought all I had to do to unlock her was lose weight. I had to remind myself that THIS BITCH WAS NOT REAL. And I wouldn't even like her if she was.  Now I READ WHAT I WANT (fantasy princesses and love triangles?) and WEAR WHAT I WANT (mostly what she would have worn, in plus sizes) and I MOVE WHEN I WANT (so I can stay alive). I want to take good care of myself because I deserve to feel healthy and my family deserves to get me for as long as I can torture them by hanging on. That's what fitness is going to be in my next 30 years.

FOURTH AND MOST IMPORTANT: PLEASE RECOGNIZE THAT YOU KNOW LESS THAN NOTHING. I spent most of my early twenties thinking I knew a lot. I was wrong.

In my next 30 years I'm going to finish my book and maybe the trilogy. I'm going to decide on my next career- or maybe retire from teaching first before starting round 2. I'm going to go on trips with my sisters. I'm going to make taking care of myself a cornerstone of my life. I'm going to cement some family traditions. I'm going to get more tattoos. I'm going to make a million more mistakes. I'm probably not going to stop writing about them.  Any advice for this new decade? I'm all ears!

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