Metters Musings

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Musings of a Thirtysomething
August 8, 2003

Iím not exactly sure when it started.  It certainly didnít occur instantaneously the day I turned 30.  It was something that happened gradually, over time, creeping up on me like old underwear.  There was really no escaping itÖ Iím talking about becoming a thirtysomething.

I may not know exactly when it started, but I do remember the exact moment I realized it.  It was about 2Ĺ years ago, and Bill and I were driving to work together.  We were listening to the 80s station (that alone should have been a clue) when Metallicaís Enter Sandman came on the radio.  I excitedly yelled ďSweeeeet!Ē and cranked the car stereo to an unhealthy volume.  I started playing air guitar, banging my head, and singing along loudly and unashamedly.  About this time we passed by the local Jr. High where hoards of kids were all walking to school.  So here I was making a fool of myself in the car while the Jr. Highers are looking at me like Iím insane and sooooo incredibly uncool.  When I saw the look on their faces it just made me laugh and I went right back to my air guitar.  And thatís when it hit me Ė I didnít care about being cool.

Wait a minuteÖ I didnít care about being cool?  Whatís up with that?  When did that happen?  And in a flash my mind went back to when I was in Jr. High myself.  I remembered how sometimes my mom would drive me to school in her bathrobe and how terribly embarrassed I was by that.  How could she wear a bathrobe in public and not be embarrassed?  After all, I was embarrassed and I wasnít even the one wearing it!  Reflecting back on this I realized that I had somehow become that ďolder personĒ who didnít care about bathrobes in public or playing air guitar to a song that was popular before those Jr. Highers were out of diapers.  Interestingly enough, I wasnít even disturbed to realize this. 

I was 34 when I had this epiphany.  Welcome to being a thirtysomething.

If you are not yet in your 30s youíre not really going to get this musing.  Just like I never really ďgotĒ the TV show Thirtysomething or the movie The Big Chill back when I was in my 20s.  I donít know about you, but my 20s were marked by lots of socializing, partying, having fun, and learning to live on my own.  My biggest concerns at that time were finding true love and deciding on a career.  The future seemed a long way off and I felt as if my life was really just beginning.  The world was full of possibilities and I felt like time was on my side.  I would look at people older than myself and feel like so many of them were so serious and, well, boring.  They seemed like they had lost the ability to have fun.  I can remember vowing to myself and to my friends that I would never get like that, that I would always enjoy a good time and being the life of the party.

Well being the life of the party isnít so important anymore.  I suppose I should feel horrified and ashamed to admit that, but I really donít.  What I didnít understand in my 20s is that there is a lot more to life than having fun.  Life can be a lot richer, and have a lot more depth than just that.  Being cool doesnít matter so much anymore because I have learned that there are more important things to put my energy into than worrying about what other people think of me.  Things like meaningful relationships, and family, and making a difference in the world.  Donít get me wrong, I still know how to have a good time.  But now having a good time is more about enjoying the company of good friends and sharing a good laugh than it is about seeing who can drink the most tequila shots and still avoid a hangover in the morning.  Life has gotten richer, not because life has changed, but because my perspective has deepened.  Now I understand that people in their 30s and beyond havenít lost the ability to have fun; whatís happened is theyíve actually gained more meaning in their lives. 

Now I know to a twentysomething that sounds incredibly boring, but I assure you, itís not.  Itís something you canít understand until you get here.  So go back to your parties and your singles bars and enjoy your 20s.  As you approach 30 donít fret about it like so many people do.  Your life wonít be over and you wonít lose the ability to have fun.  Being in your 30s is a great place to be!  Maybe somehow deep down I knew that before I ever got here.  Maybe thatís why turning 30 was not at all distressing for me, and having my thirtysomething epiphany was more amusing than anything else.  I actually enjoy joking about being old to my twentysomething friends because I know the thirtysomething secret:  itís not as dreadful as they think. 

Sure, growing older has its depressing parts.  I wonít sit here and try to pretend that I havenít noticed the lines that are beginning to form on my face or the creakiness starting in my joints.  I wonít lie to you and say that I donít periodically check for gray hair, secretly dreading the day that I finally find one.  And I wonít pretend that I donít revel in the fact that I still get carded every now and then.  Trust me, I savor every time that happens because I know it just might be the last time!  What I will tell you, though, is that my 30s have been marked by a lot of soul searching and embracing who I am.  Itís been a turbulent and sometimes tearful journey, but by looking inside I have learned so much about myself and I have realized the power of choices.  The most important realization Iíve had in my 30s is that I donít have to sit back and let life just happen to me.  I am fully accountable for myself and how my life turns out.  Let me tell you, that revelation was frightening and liberating all at the same time.  But it has changed Ė and is continuing to change Ė my life for the better.  Knowing what I know now, and the empowerment that comes with that knowledge, is something I wouldnít trade for the world.  Itís been the gift of my 30s and I embrace it wholeheartedly.  You couldnít pay me to go back to my 20s.

There was a time when I never thought Iíd say this, but I have a sneaking suspicion that there are a lot of cool things in store for me in my 40s, 50s, and beyond.  I just celebrated my 37th birthday a few weeks ago so 40 is just a few years around the corner.  While I dread the inevitable gray hair that is bound to sprout by then, I look forward to the wisdom that comes with age and the richness of growing older.  To the 40s I say, bring it on!

Now excuse me while I go dig up my Metallica cassette.  Iím feeling in the mood for a little air guitar.

Copyright © 2002 Ė 2008 Susan B. Metters.  All rights reserved.

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