Alexa, play I’m Turning 30 by Bo Burnham
For full experience, please listen to my accompanying ‘Turning 30’ Spotify playlist:
I watched Hocus Pocus 2 on Halloween this year and was taken aback at the opening lines indicating that the original movie was made 29 years ago in 1992.
As I turn 30 this year, all I can hear is Winifred Sanderson screeching her warning, “It’s curtains! We evaporate! We cease to exist!”
Whatever I’ve accomplished till now is all I get in this life. Farewell to my hopes and dreams I have not achieved to this point. No longer will elders remark upon my merit with affirmations of “you are going places” or “you have potential”. For as society dictates, I am stuck here and my potential is dried up.
Farewell to the healthy glow of my youth. Collagen production slows at 25 so by now it’s surely abandoned me. I’ll begin my subscription to powders, supplements and potions so I can prevent the rapid and inevitable aging that is sure to plague me from Dec 20, 2022 to my final days. I am becoming the crypt keeper. Gravity is sure to start setting onto my taught form…my grave beckoning to me from an unknown, far-off distance. I pray my coffin a fine wood or my ashes be spread over a picturesque landscape.
Good thing I don’t believe any of that anymore. Well aside from the age in my body, that’s just facts.
Breaking Down Harmful Narratives
In the past 5 months, even the small act of coming to terms with the fact that I was almost 30, caused me to start seeing all the good things to come and simultaneously shed the narratives I’d been led to believe by societal pressures.
This spring, I was at my multi generational and multi denominational Bible study. We were going over Acts and I revealed to my small group the pressure to “have it all together” by 30. I remember the look of horror and gasps from them. The high school senior who was also a part of the small group echoed the same feelings.
These very established women ranging ages 50 – 70’s were shocked that someone as young as myself would think that. It was a beautiful moment that lead to the truth I wish more young women knew.
There is so much more to life beyond 30. In fact, the resounding sentiment is that’s when things start getting good.
My friend Megan said this about her 30’s:
“I’m so much more sure of who I am, what’s really important, and what kind of person I want to be. Everything about who I am has gotten better. Do I have wrinkles now, yep. Gray hair, yep. Sore knees, absolutely. Is my soul more at peace though, you betcha. Not everything is perfect but I’m becoming more ok with that. Deep breaths. Some days will be much better than others but overall I know life really does continue to get better!!”Megan Farley
And some of my gym moms swear that the 40’s are where it’s really at.
So that’s what’s ahead, but what did I learn in the last year of my 20’s? The “defining decade” as some call it.
Which, for the record, I call BS on. The entire narrative that if you don’t have life down by your 20’s you’re destined to a poorer quality of life is toxic. But that’s not the subject of this blog.
What I Did, What I Learned
The notable highlights of this year include:
- Completing 75 Hard
- Grew in content creation with my Stories with Sandra brand
- Stepped away from advising for AOII
- Went to Stagecoach
- Had the biggest meltdown of my life
- Fell in love with my best friend
- Went to A LOT of weddings
- Celebrated the birth of a lot of babies. The last one is currently on her way to us as I write this.
- Made new friends
- Received a (much anticipated) ADHD diagnosis
This year was appropriately difficult. I had a lot of nasty deep rooted stuff dug up. Personal growth is one of my inherent values and yet I still seem to forget how much it hurts to face myself in the mirror and work through my crap.
However, I also believe if you don’t look back at your past and cringe a little then you aren’t growing. Embarrassment is a natural part of the process and it’s healthy. Shame is what has no place in our stories.
I learned that I’m going to be too much for some people and that’s okay. It doesn’t make me or them a bad person. I learned that wanting to share stories and my writing with the world doesn’t make me vain or prideful. And that some people actually enjoy my writing?!
I will continue to be learning how to step into places of disagreement and hold the truth that two things can not be aligned but that doesn’t mean evil is in the midst.
I will also continue to explore the theme of authenticity in different environments that require different parts of yourself. How you can share your true self without showing all of yourself and how those two things can be true at the same time.
Late in Life ADHD Diagnosis
Getting an ADHD diagnosis was a very appropriate cherry on top of 29th year on Earth. It involved making an internal decision that the difficulty I was having to sit at a desk for 8 hours and focus or manage my home was too much. I had seen videos on TikTok talking about ADHD and thought maybe there are some answers. I’ll talk more about that process at a later time, but for now I want to talk about what the process revealed.
I had two hour-long appointments where the Dr asked me about my childhood, habits growing up, academic experience and behaviors. I then had a TOVA test and a debrief. The final diagnosis was ADHD, anxiety, and above average intelligence. From what I’ve learned below, it’s pretty impressive I’ve done this well in life without the help of medication and long-term therapy.
What I learned from these sessions is that I have been monitoring and controlling my behavior in normal situations for pretty much my entire life based on the expectations of authority figures and in order to get ahead.
I learned that my brain works fast. It’s one thing when your parents tell you you’re smart. It’s another when a psychiatrist who’s been working for decades says you’re bright. (Yes, I will be taking this to the bank the rest of my life.) But this big brain of mine coupled with people pleasing and perfectionism is also what’s allowed me to get this far in life without a diagnosis.
The best way to explain the next part is through an illustration. My friends have this thing called “Okay, Sandra.” It typically happens when we are in a social setting and something comes out of my mouth, no one knows where it came from, and they say “Okay, Sandra” because they know in my head it makes sense and it’s probably not going to translate well outside of that. Meaning I need to get better at not assuming people know what’s going on inside my head, slow down a bit, and communicate.
Speaking of my friends. I reached a new level of understanding how loved I am this year. People talk about all the weddings that come up during a particular season of life. This year I was invited to multiple weddings. And as I found out when arriving at the weddings, the guest lists were under or just around 100.
Weddings are expensive, intimate, and special. The fact that I was wanted at these celebrations and people made room for me was a tangible message of how valued I am in the lives of others. It caused me to metaphorically sit myself down and maybe realize I don’t suck as much as my anxiety says I do.
The final thing I want to talk about learning this year are my core values.
- Ideation and Exploration: I value the debating, sharing, and explorations of ideas, possibilities, and designs and the freedom to pursue them.
- People: I believe in the divine and inherent worth of every person on this earth and honoring them as who they are created to be in their entirety.
- Community & Connection: I value relationships. How people come together in community and share in life and love with one another
- Wellness: Building an identity on solid ground. The disciplined practice of spiritual, emotional, and physical health that allow a person to live their best life.
- Growth & Development: I value the growth and change that is inherent in life as well as the growing into and reaching the max potential of what something can develop to become, do, and give.
When I started these annual birthday blogs, I was 23 turning 24. Reading my past blogs, I can see the change from bright eyes, to getting knocked down, to figuring it out and trying to be okay with that, to now being really honest, vulnerable, and straight forward.
But I also see these values reflected in all my lessons, slowly but surely becoming more refined and clear. The clearer they get, the clearer I become to myself, and the less there is to hide behind.
With all the victories, mistakes and heartaches of the past decade I still somehow became a more vulnerable and courageously authentic version of myself. So if I can do all that in my 20’s, well, I’ll raise a glass in hopes for my 30’s.
Thank you all for reading this passion project of mine every year, and to those of you kind enough to look forward to it. Writing is that little hope and dream I hold close to my chest and the fact I get to share it with anyone is a joy and a blessing. To another 365 sunsets, dark nights, and sunrises and sun shining days.
Growing with you,
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