Thursday, January 26, 2006

Marriage or Martinis?

Sitting here thinking about the fact that I have about a month and two weeks before being 30 turns into being 30something.

Realizing, that I’m totally okay with this, in fact, I’m better than okay with it, I’m feeling great about the 30’s.

Not being able to explain what it is specifically, but knowing a sense of inner peace about the new juncture of life I’ve entered.

Reflecting on why it is that 30 feels so much better than 20.

I’m not in my 20’s anymore, which means that I no longer need to feel like the “kid” in the room. I’m over 30, therefore, I am now an adult. No longer a young adult, just an adult.

As a 30-year-old single woman, I can confidently sip a chocolate (caramel, apple, insert yummy flavor here) martini with a group of girlfriends, and not ONCE look around the room wondering if the cute guy is watching. I don’t even notice the cute guys; I’m too busy enjoying my friends’ company. How refreshing.

I’ve now been in my line of work long enough now, that it really has become my career, and although I’m not sure this is what I’ll always want to do, right now it I’m good with calling it my career choice. After all, I did choose it, I’m good at it, and it does pay the bills.

I can come home after a day at work, and walk into MY condo, and feel the satisfaction that I pay my mortgage every month on my own, keep the utilities turned on, and manage to feed myself AND the animals, and still have money left over for above mentioned martinis.

I’ve learned that there are things worth splurging on, and things that I just don’t really need to have, no matter how much I “MUST” have them, and can take a step back and wait it out. Therefore, securing extra money for said martinis.

When I plan with a girlfriend to go out for said martinis, I don’t have to worry about who’s going to get drunk and “act a fool”, because a martini is about savoring, not inhaling, as are glasses of wine, and other fruity concoctions. And going for drinks, in your 30ish stage (at least in my immediate world), is a euphemism for “spending quality time with my friends”.

I’ve reached a stage in my life, where I can do pretty much whatever I want to do, without worrying if it is socially acceptable. If it is acceptable to me, at this stage in my life, then it shouldn’t matter if it is acceptable to others. Granted, I’m also not running around half naked or sticking my arse out of moving car windows at this stage in my life, so I run less risk of offending someone. But the thing is, I don’t much care if “they”, whoever “they” are, wouldn’t do things my way. I do things my way and I’m the only one who’s allowed to judge me.

I’ve also reached a stage in my life in which I don’t feel the least bit guilty about being a little bit selfish. I’ve earned the right to check the caller ID and not answer the phone if I don’t feel like talking, to spend a Friday night at home, curled up on the couch watching tivo’d episodes of my guilty pleasures, to NOT want to share my space with anyone just yet, not a man, not a child, maybe my cat.

At 30, I’ve realized that the things that I used to stress over in my 20’s, were so minimal compared to the things that I know I will be stressing over as I get older. Marriages, children, job opportunities are bound to take friends to far away places and remove them from my immediate line of sight as time progresses. Disease, old age, and just pure bad luck are sure to take loved ones away from me and others I know as the years move on. Too many things will change, not enough will stay the same, and I will have to deal with them all, now that I am an adult. This obviously does not sound like a positive, but this knowledge, this awareness, makes the daily trivial stresses, laughable, and manageable. It makes getting up in the morning a blessing, and laying in bed at night a success. It makes every little thing, from my cat licking my face to say good morning, to a good workout at the gym, seem like such a miracle. And at 30, I’m finally able to appreciate this, and enjoy it. This is not to say that I don’t stress, fume, rant and rage at the daily stresses, but I’ve learned to let things go a lot quicker. It always feels better when you exhale.

It took me 30 years, but I’ve actually started paying attention to what I eat. I don’t just mean, “dieting”, but for the first time in my life, I’m paying attention to portions, and calories, and nutrients, and what is good and what isn’t for my body. I’ll still melt down and grab a big fat burger now and again, but I’m kinder to my body now, because when I do, I take note, and therefore, am less likely to do it as often.

Even though I joke about the “always a bridesmaid, never a bride” curse that follows me (hey, I’ll be in my 5th and 6th weddings this year and next), I’m truly very comfortable with my position as the “single” friend. I’m genuinely happy when friends get married, or have their children, and I’m at peace that I’m not the person experiencing it directly. I have an opportunity to experience the world like not many 30ish-year-olds get to do. Without attachments, without having to “check-in” with the significant other, or find a babysitter. I get the joy of cuddling and coddling friends’ babies, and the outsider’s view of watching the mania that is wedding planning. I don’t have to rush home to make dinner for anyone, I can pick up and take off on a Friday and not return until Sunday night without much preparation.

There are so many other little things that made me glad to be 30ish. I’m finding it to be this time when all things are possible, I’m no longer “too young” to participate in certain of society’s rituals, but I’m also not quite too old to NOT take part in them. It’s a good time to be me. I have choices, options, and the ability to NOT choose, to opt out. I can date, or not. I can be ambivalent about whether or not I actually want to EVER get married at all. I can also be confused about children and motherhood. It’s perfectly acceptable for me to want children and not want them all in the same breath. To love kids and to think of myself as potentially a wonderful mother, to consider adoption as a choice, and at the same time, to be so sure I may be emotionally ready, but not quite financially, intellectually or physically ready to take that step, to give up my space, to shake my independence to the core.
I can look back at the past year, my first in my 30s, and be content in that even tough nothing earth shattering happened, I had a good year. I enjoyed it, I lived it, I appreciated it. And now as 31 looms, I don’t need to make any big plans, to set any major deadlines, I can just continue to live life, bit by bit, day by day. And I guess that’s what I love the most about this idea of the 30’s. There is no major “milestone” impending. There isn’t the I’ll finally be able to drive, to drink, to graduate college, to buy a home…there’s just the day to day, and hopefully they’ll be good days.


karla said...

Happy almost-30! I totally agree; the 30s are way better than the 20s.

WendyWings said...

Happy nearly birthday,I think you got skipped in the auditions process, too many people were posting at once so I came to say hi :)
(you can rush back and try again of course LOL)

Norma said...

Wendy sent me sort of. I got skipped too. Turning 30 was tougher than turning 60. Don't know why.

Stop by and we'll have a chat, but not about age.

Miss H. said...

This post captures everything that is great about being a 30-something woman. I could not agree with every point listed more :).

Jaye Wells said...

Hi I got sent from Wendy too.

I am turning 30-ish in April, so I can certainly relate to most fo this, except for the single part. But what I find really funny and ironic is that all of these freedoms that we suddenly realize we have when we turn thirty were all there when we were 20 but we had no idea. I kind ofmourn all those years I was an idiot about these things. But I am glad I finally leanred them. And hey, I sure did have some fun being young and stupid.

Michelle | Bleeding Espresso said...

This is so, so good, and I relate to so much of it. Sure I'm in a relationship, but as of just a few years ago I wasn't, so I've felt all of these things at one time or another...growing up takes time but it's so worth it!