I celebrated a birthday this past weekend. It was a milestone birthday – as of Sunday, I have officially entered my third decade of life – and I would be lying if I said I was totally comfortable with my new age. To be honest, I have never been too crazy about birthdays*, but this is the first time I have taken a birthday this hard. I had been dreading the big 3-0 since the day I turned 29, and while I recognized that my feelings were legitimate (15 years of therapy HAVE paid off!), I was genuinely puzzled by them. I’ve always found it strange that some people feel the need to lie about their age because, well, you are the age that you are, and it is pointless to deny it. I usually agree with the adage that age is just a number. So why was the prospect of turning 30 threatening to send me into a depression?
After a year of reflection, I came to the conclusion that it wasn’t the actual age that I was struggling with, but what that age represented. If you had asked me ten years ago what my life would look like at 30, I would have painted a very different picture than my current reality. Twenty-year-old Kendra would have predicted that in ten years, I would have several successful years of teaching under my belt. I would have been married for at least eight years, and we would be living in a home that we owned, with a menagerie of pets and a handful of kids. I would be confident in myself and comfortable in my body, and my years of disordered eating would be a distant memory. Flash forward to 30, and nothing about this predicted future is remotely accurate. This was no less true when I was 29, but hitting 30 has forced me to acknowledge that my life has not turned out the way I thought and hoped it would. As painful as this realization has been, it helped me to understand that, before I could celebrate this new decade of life, I had to mourn the life I never got the chance to live – at least not in my twenties.
Understanding the WHY behind my feelings regarding 30 has been beneficial, but it isn’t enough. I don’t want to grudgingly accept my new age, I want to celebrate it. On Thursday, I will share some steps I am taking that are helping me to embrace my life at 30. Until then, I’d love to hear from you: have you ever had a hard time accepting a birthday? What did you do to accept your new age?
*I do, however, like the actual date of my birthday, which I happen to share with Desi Arnaz, Karen Carpenter, and Dr. Seuss!