Yesterday I turned 32. While I know a few people who really struggled with hitting their 30's and leaving the 20's behind, I had no issue with it. Age is just a number and it's not something I often think about. Of course, like many I am sure, some days I feel older than I actually am. And others? I feel like a kid again.
Age is all in your head anyway.
Crazy thing is, my head is full of holes.
Although I am only two years into this decade, and within those two years, I was diagnosed with an incurable brain-eating disease (disclaimer: MS does not really "eat" your brain, I think we all know I tend to exagerate), I am still enjoying my 30's far more than my 20's.
Not that anything was that terrible about my 20's, but, as an individual, I was still growing. Still sorting things out. Still searching for my place. I just didn't know it.
I think, as a child, I had in my head that at some point, one just becomes an "adult". Seemed to me, that getting married, buying a house, starting a business - all these things were very "adult" things to do. Clearly I had crossed that line from childhood to adulthood and was on my way.
But the thing was, I never felt much like an adult. I felt like I was simply playing dress-up - pretending to be that adult person I was expected to be - and that person? Didn't know what the fuck she was doing. And I was simply waiting for someone to out me.
It wasn't until that entire "adult" life fell apart that I had to start rethinking what being an adult was. And in the midst of sorting all that out - which was many years in the making - I got pregnant. Found out the night before my 29th birthday actually. And I knew my 30's were going to be nothing like my 20's. I was right, I just didn't realize why I was right.
I expected that being a parent would mean new responsibilities. Diapers. Clothes. Food. Day care. Sleepless nights. And it is all those things. But what I didn't expect was how it would change me. The new perspective it would give me on my life, my growth, and really, my place in this world. Suddenly I was someone's mother. But I was also still someone's daughter. And I realized, it's all just a continum. My place on that continum hadn't changed, but I was now aware I was on it.
I don't mean to wax all philosophical here, but it really opened my eyes to what was actually taking place. No one actually just becomes an "adult" - or becomes anything really. We simply continue to grow and evolve along the entire lifespan. Which seems rather elementary and obvious, but it wasn't to me. Not until I had my daughter and watched her grow and evolve that I realized I was too. And if I was, then likely, so was everyone else. None of us are ever done with that process until we're done with life.
So I guess Steven Tyler was right; life's a journey, not a destination.
(God bless Aerosmith.)
Getting my MS diagnosis was just another step in that evolution. I know this disease will have a lot to teach me. How to be strong. And how to be weak. And how to keep moving forward in this process. Certainly, a disease like this? Does not allow you to be stagnant. There's no time when you're constantly trying to accomodate and assimilate new symptoms. It constantly challenges your paradigm and makes you look at yourself and your relationships with others. That's not such a bad thing. It's led to greater growth for me. And in these two years? I have accepted that growth with far more awareness than any growth I experienced in my 20's. In my 20's, I was blindly fighting that growth. I thought I had it all figured out.
Ha. Just... ha.
Now? Despite the bad days - which sometimes seem to outnumber the good days - I realize all the more how blessed my life is. I am aware of more now than I ever was before. Aware of the good and the bad.
It's awakened in me the realization that some of my relationships are not nurturing and fulfilling for me in the way I need them to be. And others are stronger than I would have given them credit for.
It's actually helped me learn how to be needy - which is not the bad thing I once thought it was.
It's made me re-realize how wonderful my family is. They truly love me unconditionally - even when they might not agree with me. And I them.
It's made me aware of how flawed I am. But that's okay because it's also made me realize how flawed everyone is. I am surely not alone in that.
And I am aware that there are many more lessons to be learned - both good and bad - and if I accept those lessons, allow that growth to happen, and embrace the journey, the road will be - if not easier - surely more rich.
I look forward to the next 8 years. I look forward to my 40's. (besides, 40 is the new 20 you know.) And I look forward to whatever lies ahead. I realize it won't all be easy, but it will all be worthwhile.