I’m turning 30 in a few days, and so far this has been my reaction:
I looked in the mirror last night and noticed a big zit on my left temple and thought, “Isn’t 30 too old for zits? When is my skin going to get the memo?” Then I glanced over at the wrinkle slowly deepening between my eyebrows, from worrying or squinting in the sun or whatever, and wondered, “Is there some kind of combination skin care for both zits and wrinkles?” There better be. And I hope it’s not tested on animals.
That’s it. For me, the hullabaloo over the big 3-0 is summed up right there.
To be honest, I expected to be freaking out a lot more. Well, maybe not a lot, but I thought at least I’d spend the last few weeks of my 20s planning some sort of ritual transition. When friends of mine reached that milestone, they’d organized something special for the day: an alcohol-soaked backyard bash, a boat ride, a concert.
Right now, I’m planning a book release and a wedding. I don’t have time to deal with my birthday. When I heard that Green Day would be playing at the United Center on the very day I turn 30, I told my fiancé that if he could get good tickets, that might be fun. Then again, maybe I’ll want to see friends, so perhaps he should just organize something in the beer garden at the Beacon. Completely indecisive, I put it in his hands, threatening jokingly that if whatever he planned wasn’t good enough, I might freak out.
At least I think I was joking.
I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop and panic to ensue.
You see, my ex-boyfriend had serious issues about turning 30. He started obsessing about it before he even turned 29. At the time, I was in therapy – it was a really bad relationship among other things – and my psychologist told me that everyone has a milestone age that really gets to them. For the ex, it was 30. For my mom, it was 40. For my dad, it was 50. (He seriously dreaded the colonoscopy that goes along with that particular birthday.)
Since then, I’ve been wondering which birthday is going to throw me into crisis mode. Last week, I thought it might be starting. I grew anxious over writing career-related stuff and the general state of the economy and had a teary outburst: “I’m about to turn 30 and I’m a bartender with a master’s degree and an incredible amount of student loan debt!” But this week that feeling subsided.
The fact of the matter is that I don’t care about turning 30 because I’m happy with my life. When my ex was panicking over 30, he was still in grad school, not really sure what he wanted to be doing or where he wanted to be.
I’m getting married this year. I’m pursuing my creative dreams, even though they may not be paying the bills. And I live in a fabulous town. I’m not in some hipster neighborhood where everyone is trying to eternally remain 25. Nor am I in some suburb where everyone looks down their nose at me because I have pink hair and no interest in the picket-fence dream. Here, I can go to the local tavern and talk to people of all ages and perspectives. I can feel young at heart at our various festivals. I can just be me.
So thank you, Forest Park, for helping me feel ageless on my birthday.
Stephanie is the author of ‘I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone’ and ‘Ballads of Suburbia.’ She’s a proud Forest Parker who holds a master’s in fine arts degree from Columbia College Chicago. She works locally at the Beacon Pub and loves to hear from people through her Web site, www.stephaniekuehnert.com.