30 has been a long time coming—29 years to be exact. But, although 30 has been on my horizon for a while, it’s now just around the corner, 360 days from now. 30 is a milestone year and for years I’ve associated it with the beginning of legitimacy; at 30, people—both older and younger than you—take you and your opinions more seriously, you’ve shed your insecurities and are comfortable in your own skin and actually take yourself less seriously, your experiences and the lessons you’ve learned from them are given more weight, and the scraps from the varied seasons of your life come together to make an intriguing picture that suggests the larger purpose for your existence.
But, perhaps I’m wrong. Maybe there is nothing that magically falls into place at 30. There are plenty of people over 30 who aren’t taken seriously. Many continue to struggle with insecurities well past their 20s. There are those who after 30 still can’t articulate what they think or would like for their greatest contribution to their contemporaries to be—or to the generations that will follow.
No fog machine gets turned off on my 30th birthday. At 29, I struggle with self-confidence, taking myself too seriously, and a host of other issues and my willy-nilly approach to growing up won’t produce the kind of 30-year old version of Alicia that I’ve been imagining.
The 30-year old Alicia:
1. Is content with what doesn’t have— this will more than likely include a well established career, a husband or any prospects, a huge savings account, a tight-knit group of friends—and doesn’t take for granted what she does have.
2. Is content with who she is and recognizes her gifts and limitations without feeling inordinate pride, self-pity, envy or regret.
3. Is tolerant of others
4. Is a thoughtful friend
5. Manages her finances responsibly
6. Is willing to look stupid and laugh at her mistakes (and continues to cackle at others’ mistakes…j/k)
7. Is in the best shape she’s ever been: physically, mentally, and spiritually
8. Speaks better Chinese than when she lived there
9. Can understand Korean dramas without subtitles
10. Is well respected in her field for her thoughts on public programming that promotes diversity, access, inclusion and engagement with nontraditional audiences
11. Is assertive and confident; doesn’t apologize for who she is
12. Consistently invests in others’ success
13. Has filled up the gaping hole in her knowledge of world history before 1990
14. Has the discipline to put forward her best face, ideas, and effort without requiring external stimuli or rewards; not a praise addict
15. Is a force to be reckoned with on the dance floor
16. Feels beautiful
17. Is a networking fiend
18. Is able to articulate her values in a nonjudgmental way
19. Is less dismissive and critical of people with values and lifestyle choices different from her own
20. Invests the most in the friendships that make her a better person, not just the most entertaining or easiest ones
21. Does not embrace individuality for it’s own sake–but strives for authenticity
22. Knows the real difference between need and want
23. Carries herself with poise and aplomb
24. Chooses substance over fluff across the board
25. Can make anywhere home
26. Is known for making people feel welcome and included
27. Has found a financially sustainable way to do what she loves, impact lives, and be generous.
28. Has an established professional online presence
29. Is dripping with insight and wisdom
30. Doesn’t use “I don’t do x” as an excuse not to try, or ‘black people don’t do x’
31. Is responsible
32. Can admit when she needs help and graciously accept help from others
33. Is far-sighted; lives with numbered days and for the future not for what is fleeting
34. Keeps life’s hiccups and disappointments in perspective
35. Manages household affairs well
36. Believes God is really for her and trusts that His promises are true
Well, we’ll see. I don’t know what 30 or the years, if I’m fortunate, after that will bring but if you’re reading this I hope we’re both around to find out. Perhaps this is more growth than anyone could reasonably expect to experience in one year. But, rather than thinking of October 11, 2013 as being the day I turn 30, I will consider this 29th year—its decisions, its relationships, its disappointments, and its successes—the year I become 30.