I turned 30 last month and it felt right.
Which mind you, was not how I thought turning thirty would feel. All throughout my twenties, I lived and worked with an aspiration to enter my thirties with deep self confidence, a newly thriving career, a settled mental and physical balance of work-life-family-etc., a family, an on point style. Yes, even style was on my aspirations list.
However, come my mid twenties, the planner in me decided I was not on track for such status come thirty and my mid twenties self began to internally panic.
The internal panic of “I’m running out of time” turned into a posture of more hurry, greater hustle, saying ‘yes’ to five too many things, and less sleep. On an internal level, the belief that time was slipping away turned into a frantic posture of seeing every opportunity as “it” (my career for the decade), planning and replanning my life to make that “it” fit, an underlying dissatisfaction with life that manifested into shortness and a tone of complaining, and a stubbornness to enjoy or see the beauty and joy of the present.
I began to believe the lie that if I didn’t accomplish ____ by thirty, then I would have failed. If I didn’t do a certain list of things or wasn’t living a certain lifestyle, then maybe the twenties were wasted and I would be starting thirty on the wrong foot.
This seems like a radical downward mental spiral, and squeezed into four paragraphs it is, but expanded across five years, it’s not. It’s a slow shift in perspective and life that is often too small for us to catch.
However, when thirty came around, it felt right.
Mind you, I still have a long list of to-dos (my planner is…something else) and things I wish were true of my life or who I am. I’m not “successful” by most standards of society, academia, etc. I’m uncertain of my in-between early-thirties-millennial-mom style. I’m still anxious in certain social situations. I still feel 23 at times. I’m still chasing a more manageable and sustainable work life balance and rhythm. I still don’t know if the work I’m doing is exactly where I see myself for the rest of my working life.
And yet, I’m learning there is a beauty and a joy in this season of “not yet.”
My 20 month old daughter has these Highlights booklets she adores. Her favorites are all about nature and the growth of seeds to flowers. When seeds are growing into flowers, and they are just little sprouts, we still consider them beautiful. Maybe because the green is bright or because the sprouts are lush. But it’s also because of what we know the seed was, where we see it now and for what is coming, the anticipation of what is to come.
It’s not only the current stage we see as beautiful, but the whole process.
The same is true of this transition from twenties to thirties (and truly of any transition or unmet expectations). My life may not look like the full garden I was expecting when I arrived to thirty, it might look like buds, mixed with some weeds and unkept dirt, but there is beauty in the garden.
Beauty in knowing what it was before, what it is now, and what is to come. Each stage of beginning, in between and end has its own kind of beauty, it’s not just the end that is beautiful.
There’s beauty in the tangible of what is seen and there is beauty in the process, in the learning and growth, in the not yet.
As I have sought the beauty of being in the not yet, I have also experienced joy. Joy in being able to see gifts I have been given in my twenties. Joy in seeing how the lessons from my twenties have set me up for my thirties. Joy in the deep sense of settle and calm as I accept the season of “not yet.” Joy in the anticipation of what hasn’t happened yet because of what will come.
Seeing the beauty and experiencing the joy of “not yet” has become the most gracious and truest way to enter my thirties, with a deep emphasis on who I am and less on what I have done or haven’t.
May you seek the beauty and experience the joy in your “not yet” seasons of life. Living in the balance of past, present, and hope for the future.
With joy & gratitude,
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