Thoughts on My Last Year in My Twenties
I’m turning twenty-nine. It’s my last year in my twenties and the thoughts that are racing through my mind are not fears of physically aging. As far as I can recollect, I’ve never dreaded getting old; the wrinkles, the loosening and shagging, and the turning gray (I had my first gray hair at 12 and it wasn’t a big deal). Perhaps seeing older models on the runway recently has helped. And there’s Helen Mirren...have you seen her?! Her beauty, wisdom, and her confidence! I can only hope to be as cool at her age! So even though aging itself isn’t worrisome, I do find myself experiencing anxiety about change. I’ve gathered my thoughts on the fears I’ve had, and what I’ve gleaned from them is a good ol’ fashion Do’s and Don’ts list to keep in mind as thirty approaches.
Don’t #1: Don’t Wish for My Younger Self.
Somewhere in the middle of being 27, I had a conversation with a friend that left me wishing to be my younger self again. He told me that if it weren’t for me asking him to dance (I was 16 and he was 14 and just this shy little thing) he wouldn’t be the outgoing person he is today. I was pretty bummed because I was reminded that I’m no longer that sixteen year old girl, befriending everyone and anyone. I’m much more reserved now. Basically I feel like a curmudgeon who needs to put my dentures in, shake my fist, and yell at all the nincompoops to leave me the hell alone. My growing reservedness has had me wondering what has happened to me and if I know how to talk to people or make friends anymore. I’ve even wondered, had I still had my youthful lack of inhibition when I went to New York Fashion Week, would my experience there have been completely different?
Do #1: Embrace How I’ve Changed.
However, let me not forget other things about my sixteen year-old self that I don’t miss. Also, let me remember that what’s good about my sixteen year-old self is still with me; it’s not that I can’t play and have confidence and fun anymore… rather, unlike when I was 16, I am simply content (hence I don’t feel a need to go out all of the time) and I now correctly recognize that the world doesn’t worship me (hence, my current social hesitancies relative to back then). In short, I’ll be happy to be a confident, but also more contented and circumspect 29 year old.
Don’t #2: Don’t Internalize When Young Folks Tease Me About Being Old.
I’ve been letting statements like “Oh, I’m just surprised you know who Cardi B is,” or “You don’t know who Noah Centineo is?” (I had to look that dude up) as if at my age I don’t know what’s going on in pop culture. It has me feeling like I need to constantly be in the know so as to relate to the young folks. This feeling of not being young and cool is only exacerbated when my two youngest sisters snicker at me when I ask a seemingly simple question, only to find out that I made myself look old.
Do #2: Give My Current Self the Respect My Younger Self Should Have Given Me.
How have I let children get to me? Although I happen to know who Cardi B is, I don’t know the details of her feud with Nicki Minaj not because I am lame or out of touch, but because the approaching thirties have given me much more important and fulfilling things to think about. Within the next few years these kiddos who are teasing me about being old will also realize how much of the time they spent on celebrity gossip was not as worthwhile as if they had read 1984, To Kill A Mockingbird, and Beautiful Boy like I did this year. Plus I could just as well make fun of the youngins for not knowing Anderson Cooper, Matthew McConaughey or (in the case of the 14 year old who was making fun of me), the “old” Timothée “Shawlamay”. (But seriously how dare she not know Timothée Chalamet!).
Don’t #3: Don’t Regret. Don’t Fear.
I started to feel regret when I realized I was having my ten year high school reunion. I was examining my life and feeling that I hadn’t done much in ten years, and then I started panicking that I wouldn’t do much in the upcoming ten years. I felt like I had failed in that my creative career hadn’t taken off yet because I let fears hinder my progress. I would go over decisions that I had made and tell myself that if I had done it differently, my life would be better.
Do #3: Move Forward with Joy in Who I Am and Who I Will Be, Not in Who I Was.
Have you seen the movie Tully? No spoilers, but there’s this line that Marlo, Charlize Theron’s character, says that was just funny at first: “Your twenties are great. They are, but then your thirties come around the corner like a garbage truck at 5:00 a.m.” Then the storyline evolves (I promised no spoilers) in a way that helps Marlo realize she has all it takes, now, today, to be great now, today. I was ten reminded of real life women today who were embracing their age and thriving! Forty-something year old fashion illustrator and blogger, Garance Doré, who has shared on her blog how she had fears of aging but now gives the perspective that being twenty is practically still a child! Then there’s Lisa Congdon in her fifties, who decided to changed her career and took her first art class at 30. In her fifties, she is now a successful illustrator and author! I have heard both these women urging young women to not wish to grow up so fast and to not dread aging. They serve as a reminder that there is no need to fear getting older and that we have so much in ourselves to look forward to! Lisa Congdon shares a quote by Anne Lemmon in her book, A Glorious Freedom: Older Women Leading Extraordinary Lives, “Age has given me what I was looking for my entire life — it has given me me. . . I have become the woman I hardly dared imagine I would be.”
I venture into being 29 at peace in the stage of life that I’m in and happy to accept the choices that made my life what it is. I want to spend my thirties (and every decade I enter) being present instead of looking back a decade wishing for the life I had before. Looking back at my twenties with a healthy perspective, I can see that I’ve grown so much! Good-bye FOMO!!! I can be happy to be 29 because I feel so hopeful for what life will bring in my thirties.