Well readers, this is it! The final Chasing Thirty column. As of today, my twenties are bittersweet memory and it. feels. fabulous.
Confession: I didn’t quite finish my list of things to do before I turned thirty, something you may have cottoned onto if you’ve been reading along. In the end, the items that were the most meaningful got accomplished and the others got pushed to the back burner–which I suppose it true of any ambitious to-do list. I always hope to plan and dream just a bit bigger than what I actually can accomplish—what’s the point otherwise?
The list was more than a random collection of tasks, it was a way to force myself to take risks and live in the moment, a place I persistently have trouble staying. Because of this change in mindset, my twenty-ninth year turned out to be a pretty extraordinary one. My impending thirtieth birthday coupled with the fact that I was on my way out of both a job and a romantic relationship when I began the column gave me an excellent excuse to do some serious soul-searching and at the end of this process I find I am genuinely a happier, more balanced, more hopeful person than when I began it.
So now that the list items have all been either checked off or discarded, what did I learn from the experience?
When in doubt, go abroad
This is something the brilliant Jen Dziura has discussed at length on this site and it couldn’t be more true. Sometimes what a lady needs most to recharge her batteries and put her troubles in perspective is to go to somewhere entirely foreign. I kicked off this project with a month in Argentina, which was not only great fun but a good reminder that a change of scene can get your head right faster than just about anything else. Spending a month in a foreign country seems like a huge deal but it actually wasn’t so hard to pull off. In fact, I sort of feel like I could up and do it any time, which is an exciting idea to keep handy.
A happy work life is more or less a happy life
I was pretty unhappy with both my day job situation and my writing career when I started the list. But in dogged pursuit of two of the list items ‘get a dream job’ and ‘get a book published’ I was able to turn the ship around and I’m feeling pretty happy about where both are headed at the moment. I took a big step by putting my first novel out into the world this year and while I’m still undecided as far as what to do with the second one, I feel better having taken action. As for my day job? Couldn’t be better. I can’t imagine a better work situation than the one I have, not least because I spent last week on a ridiculously gorgeous island in the Carribean. For work.
Say what you need to say
Letting necessary words go unspoken is one of the great quiet tragedies of life, whether it’s a long overdue apology, a confession of love or simply one of admiration. I confronted all three of these on the path to thirty. Even though a simple conversation or a heartfelt email is pretty easy to pull off logistically, emotionally, these conversations were harder than anything I else I did. As nerve-wracking as it is to get the words out, the rush of courage you get from doing so is without compare and more than worth doing. Maybe things didn’t work out quite how I’d hoped but I’m happily free of regrets—not to mention that recurring dream where I am interrupting his wedding, The Graduate-style.
Don’t talk yourself out of things
This thing used to happen to me whenever I had a flash of inspiration. My mind would reel with the possibilities of the idea and then just as quickly it would began to reel in the other direction with doubt. I think I spent a lot of my twenties letting my doubts get the better of me because I lacked the confidence to follow through with notions like moving abroad, self-publishing a novel or even just starting a blog. But the only way to get that confidence is to try things and to either succeed or fail spectacularly and realize that lo!—you did not die in the process. Really once you’ve learned that failure is not something to fear but just something to weather– you become pretty much unstoppable. Nowadays the minute I hear that voice of unnecessary doubt piping up to rain on my parade, I tell it to kindly STFU.
That’s all for now Gloss Readers. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading these columns as much as I’ve enjoyed sharing them with you. I wish you all many grand adventures of your own, whatever age it is you’re chasing.
Now, off to plan my Chasing Forty list…