A little over a week ago, I turned 33. Half my lifetime ago I would've been about 17, and the thought of 33 would've had me breathing into a paper bag. Kind of how I feel about 50 now. One sec...
Okay, now that the panic has slightly subsided, back to the post...
But the truth is, 33 ain't so bad. It's pretty great, in fact. I'm now at the Jesus Age. Never heard of it? It’s like your Golden Birthday (when you turn the same age as the day you’re born; so mine was when I was 9) except it’s when you turn the age that Jesus was when he was crucified and resurrected and thus remains so perpetually.
(To be honest I don’t think the Jesus Age is really a thing. I just made it up so my friend Nick would feel bad about missing my party. “You’re in a wedding that day? Oh, no biggie. It’s just my Jesus Age Party. Whatever.”)
There’s something about the 30s that takes life to a new level. Your 20s are when you’re trying to be a grown up and mostly feel like an imposter about it. But in your 30s, you’re more likely to be married or have a mortgage or kids. You’re more likely to have had a particular job for an extended amount of time. Enough time that you’re starting to feel like your particular job has been a huge mistake.
Or as Noah put it, you’re old enough to know more about who you are, and then realize you’re kind of sick of yourself. If you feel this way, congratulations! You’re probably not delusional!
So it's a turning point kind of age. From here you can either embrace day drinking and the huge car payment for the ridiculous convertible, or you can revel in your newfound freedom of thought and spirit. I'm going with the latter.
Here are some of my personal realizations and responses:
Realization 1: I Have Body Confidence
I'm sick of feeling down about not having the same body I did at age 20. I mean technically it's the same body, but it sure as heck doesn't look like it did back then. Note the distinction: I'm not sick of my body; I'm sick of feeling bad about it. I've decided against doing so.
I've quit sitting around on my duff so much. I've gone to some dance classes in spite of the fact I now have to wear a Buband. I've taken some fun and challenging fitness classes at the Taekwondo school with a bunch of nice people of all ages and sizes and shapes and abilities. I've gotten in the cheap pop-up pool to cool off—even though I must walk across the front yard in my bathing suit to get to it! I've been eating less crap that makes me feel crappy.
Realization 2: I Can Keep Using My Brain Even Though I'm a Mom
Not that I ever stopped thinking or reading or learning or anything. But when you have small children whose little lives are full of big needs, sometimes the ol' grey matter checks out and goes on the vacation you wish you could take too. There's simply not enough space for personal flights of thought.
Now that my kids are a little older and a little less needy, I have a fraction more time to go a bit deeper with some of my thoughts. I've been inspired to make observations and ask questions.
Yeah so I've been asking a lot of questions and the answers are surprising. Sometimes disturbing. Topics include "Why did so many teachers leave my son's school after the last school year?" and "Why are so many people supporting Donald Trump, and more importantly, WHO are they?" and "I wonder if this person would talk to me about ____?"
The Right Questions series I just started is the result of these inquiries. I hope to publish some of my findings soon. My upcoming podcast, Contact, is another result of curiosity and asking questions. I'm excited to share the stories and voices of people who live in/with some atypical circumstances, as well as how I'm working through the process of understanding them.
Realization 3: Sometimes Staying Is the Brave and Fulfilling Thing to Do
About a year ago, I wrote about our house. How we viewed it as a starter house until we didn't have the option to look at it that way. And how now we realize that this house means freedom, stability, even opportunity.
Along with that came a new appreciation for our neighborhood. It helps that some close friends have moved onto our street, certainly, but last week I realized how much I appreciate my neighbors. I don't know all of them well, but staying in this neighborhood has kept us in a remarkably diverse community. Staying in our assigned public school, a Title 1 school, is another conscious choice that is leading somewhere good.
Staying doesn't mean settling. This house has given me the gift of Think Big, Live Small. This school has given me the gift of digging into some challenging circumstances and not giving up. Staying has given us the opportunity to put down roots and do the painful work of learning how to grow.
So that's where I am at 33. At 17 I might've hyperventilated at the thought of being 33, but that's only because I didn't know how good the journey here would be.