Goals & Challenges


Birthday # 29. I blew out all those candles.
Birthday # 29. I blew out all those candles.

In one month, I will be thirty years old. That means I have one month to do a whole lot of things I wanted to accomplish in my twenties.

Visiting all 50 states is not going to happen (not counting states where I’ve only been inside an airport, I think I’ve been to fifteen). Even if it was finished and submitted and magically accepted for publication right now, my novel would not be published by October 19th–I can’t even say it will be finished by then. I don’t have time to join a roller derby team, and since I haven’t been on skates since the second trimester of my pregnancy, I would probably fall and break an ankle first thing (I’m an enthusiastic but untalented skater). Not even an extreme crash diet would bring me down to my ideal weight that quickly. I can play maybe five songs on the guitar but I can’t even remember which strings play which notes and it’s going to be quite a while before I can play an F#minor.

I can, however, finish my novel’s first full draft. I can figure out a time to go roller skating, maybe hire a babysitter and bring my husband with me, and we can hold hands and drink soda out of a cup with two straws. I can eat more fruits and vegetables, use my YMCA membership (which comes with childcare) to spend more time swimming or on the treadmill. I’ve already added a morning walk to my routine, since my son has started demanding it (which, for my sixteen-month-old, means whining and shaking the baby gate that keeps him from getting downstairs to his stroller). I can take day trips to see new things near my home and get to know my adopted state more fully. I’ve already signed up for voice lessons, starting in a couple weeks, and discovered that if I sit inside my son’s baby corral (now nicknamed “the music cage”) I can play guitar without him twisting any knobs or yanking any strings.

I know that thirty is not some magical milestone, and that I’ll most likely feel exactly the same on October 19th as I did on October 18th (though possibly a little more hungover, given the birthday bash I’m planning). I did not feel like a new person when I turned twenty-one or eighteen. Sixteen was a total letdown. I had this list I’d been working on since my preteen days of things that would happen to me by my sweet sixteen, most of it entirely unrealistic. Like that my acne would clear up. (It still hasn’t, not fully. If they make an age defying acne wash, I’m going to have to use it.) That I would have a boyfriend. (Didn’t get one of those till I was twenty, and then I went ahead and married him; didn’t have a date until seventeen or kiss a boy until eighteen.) That I would no longer be such a total dork.

My life is not going to change when I turn thirty. It probably won’t matter one way or another if I complete any of my before-thirty goals. I kind of wish I still had that childhood optimism that the future would be better than today, but I’ve lived long enough now that I know better. I’ve spent a lot of time wishing for the next thing, wishing my time away, wishing for anything other than what I have, and it’s pointless. I am me now, and I will be me a month from now. I will have the same husband and child and cat, God willing. I might be thinner or fatter, my fingertips might be more callused, but I’m not counting on anything. A new year can either be feared or hoped for, and I’m choosing to do neither.

Sure is a good excuse to have a party, though.


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