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November 13, 2007 / Maleesha Kovnesky

Thoughts On Thirty

The stretch of November 10-11 is always my favorite weekend of the year.  Besides being the Marine Corps birthday and Veteran’s Day, it’s my birthday too.  I love my birthday.  I really do.

This past weekend was my 30th birthday.  I’ve never had a birthday where so many different reactions came to me from people.  Some folks actually seemed apologetic.  I’ve never been one of those people with Birthday Hangups.  The way I look at it, you can’t avoid your birthday, and if you do avoid your birthday, that means you have died.  Being dead is not a fun-sounding option compared to having a simple, unavoidable birthday.

Lots of people warned me that I might be somewhat depressed over turning 30.  Maybe that comes later in the year?  So far I’m pretty happy about it.  It does feel mentally different than being 29 did, but in a good way…like finishing a long race or something.

A good reason to be 30 today is that being 30 means you are no longer in your 20’s, and with such outstanding 20-something public representatives such as Paris “What’s Work?” Hilton, Britney “Crap Mom” Spears, and Jessica “Short Bus” Simpson…well, who wants to be associated with that age?  I’m glad to be exiting that decade for good.

The world is increasingly a place that worships and obsesses over youth, money, beauty and status.  That may be the way it is “in general,” but I know plenty of people who could care less.  These are the kind of people I like to associate with.  When I meet another woman who has never had a manicure, I think, “Friend!”  If I bothered to get a manicure, or hell, even a decent haircut, I might still look like I am 25.  But I am not 25.  Either way, my own personal philosophy on hair is “if I spend more than five minutes thinking about my hair each day, I need bigger problems.”  Being suddenly 30 has not changed this idea.  Ask me again when the gray hair comes.  Maybe by then I will have changed my thinking on this, but I’m pretty stinkin’ cheap when it comes to this kind of thing…I can’t imagine spending a lot of money on my hair…it has happened a couple of times (usually gifts from people who possibly think I have hair issues) and I always feel really, really dirty about spending money on “looking good.”

30 is the age when athletes and actors are considered old.  I’m not either of those, so it doesn’t apply.  Plus this is a really stupid concept.  30 is not old anymore.  50 really doesn’t seem old anymore.  80…well, that’s pretty frickin’ old.  But what is wrong with being old, anyway?

I read a biography about Charles Schulz several years ago.  I wanted to be a cartoonist (it’s still within the realm of the possible, someday) but Schulz said not to bother until you’re at least 40.  His reasoning was that you cannot possibly have the life experience to draw effective cartoons until you are in your forties.  I can’t argue with a great, you know?  Besides Schulz’s sound advice, one can research a lot of artists, authors, and other esteemed folks who didn’t even get started until they were in their later years.  This isn’t an excuse to sit around until then, but it should tell people that even if you are celebrating your 40th, 50th, or 60th…there are still plenty of possibilities.  Consider Ms. Nola Ochs, the country’s oldest college graduate, who received her degree at age ninety-five!

30 used to be old, around the time when you could expect a mid-life crisis.  Well that shouldn’t apply either, because now psychologists tell you to expect a quarter-life crisis (already had it, moved to Colorado) in addition to a mid-life crisis, with all kinds of smaller existential crises in between and after.  The bottom line is that just about everyone goes through some form of a life crisis, so you can’t really feel sorry for people who do.  Deal with your crisis, and move on.  What’s the alternative?

30 in pioneer years means that it’s almost time to die, but I’m not a pioneer; and let’s face it, you can die any time, whether you are young, old, or in denial.  Which brings me to the reason I’m thrilled about being 30…it means I am still alive.

I think people tend to make grand plans, and set grand goals to accomplish by age X.  Several years ago I took what I thought would be a normal walk into the bathroom at work.  Inside the bathroom was my friend “Win”, crying into a wad of Kleenex, leaving streaks of black mascara.  I asked her what was wrong.  Did she get fired?  Did someone die?

“My thirtieth birthday was Saturday,” she said.  “And I had to spend it at the wedding of my sorority sister.”

“Did something bad happen?” I still didn’t see the problem, but then I have zero sorority experience.

“You don’t understand,” she wailed.  “Now I am the last unmarried sorority sister.  And I’m thirty!”

This was a really, really big deal for Win.  I can understand the frustration of not accomplishing something that you really wanted to do, but Win wasn’t even dating anyone.  She was really upset over the lack of someone who didn’t exist.  I guess I can try to imagine how upsetting this could be but I don’t like to worry about things I can’t control. 

“You’ll understand when you’re thirty,” she informed me.

There were a lot of things I once said I wanted to do that have changed: for example, once I said that I wanted to climb Mount Everest.  You know, because it was there.  Well it took a single reading of Into Thin Air to convince me that everyone who climbs Mount Everest is missing a critical part of their brain, so that goal went away.  I always wanted to volunteer overseas, but with a family with plans firmly rooted in the US it’s not a realistic goal at the moment.  Hopefully if I live to be 60, I can volunteer then.  The goal has been postponed, possibly forever.

But when your goals go away, you can always get new ones.  Once (actually, it was more like several hundred times) I said that I would never have kids, and that turned out to be a silly notion.  I still don’t like diapers and whining, but I’m pretty sure no one does, whether they have kids or not.  

I think I have had a pretty great and adventurous life so far.  Lots of living packed in.  As far as “standard life accomplishments” that lots of people measure themselves by (house, spouse, rug rats, job, and travels) go, I feel like I have accomplished them.  At the same time, I would like to think that even if I didn’t have these things under my belt, I would still be satisfied with life, because life just doesn’t operate according to plan.  I have the same “best friend” that I met in first grade…and good friends all over the country that I still keep in touch with, though I can say I don’t see them nearly enough  (Thank goodness for the Internet).

I don’t sleep a lot, but I don’t just sit there either.  It’s amazing how the night sky looks between 2 and 3 in the morning in Colorado…I see a shooting star nearly every night (but I’m not into wishing).  There are few things in life better than seeing the sun come up in the morning, if you ask me.

I can say with confidence that I haven’t wasted any time while on the planet.  Maybe that is why I am so glad to finally be 30.

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6 Comments

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  1. elementaryteacher / Nov 19 2007 1:27 pm

    I think the people who are depressed about their birthdays are often not happy with their life, or what they have accomplished in their life. I’m 52 and still excited about every birthday. When my kids at school ask me how old I am I am never embarrassed to tell them. Usually, they are impressed! Every year when I get a year older, I feel like I’ve accomplished something, and I feel good. I feel sorry for the people who hate their birthdays.

    Eileen
    Dedicated Elementary Teacher Overseas
    (in the Middle East)
    elementaryteacher.wordpress.com

  2. cherikooka / Nov 14 2007 10:59 am

    I have never liked the idea of physically ageing….and I think it’s just vanity getting the better of me. I don’t want wrinkles or gray hair and I do what I can to prevent them. The maturity thing is not really my bag either. Eventually I will act my age. Probably when I am 120.

    I think you have great hair!!! It’s like silk. Although you may want to color it when the gray starts to really come in. You’ll understand when you’re 40. Happy Birthday kid!!!!

    -S (almost 41 going on 17)

  3. gkovats / Nov 14 2007 10:03 am

    Charles Shultz is indeed a great example for us procrastinating cartoonists. 🙂

    I always enjoy the same Win-like comment, “just wait `till it’s your turn…” I was warned about several things, from marriage to hitting 30 and home ownership.

    Had the advice been right, I would be on my second home and still looking for a bigger house, fighting each night over my wife’s lavish expenses, and due for a 30 lb “husband poutch” next August.

    Fortunately, Anna’s never had a manicure either (except for the wedding), I’ve accepted that my home will serve as my future, roomy coffin, and… OK, so maybe there’s be some truth in the whole weight thing. Maybe I’ll end up on those packaged meals that Dan Marino peddles on TV.

    Happy belated birthday to you, your corps, my corps, our corps and the Marine Corps. I guess I still need to get drunk, eat some cake and ruin a perfectly good dress uniform.

    -GK

  4. maleesha / Nov 13 2007 1:29 pm

    Sweet! I am glad to be here. I hope NaNoWriMo is going well for you…I am following the story so keep up the good work!

  5. ianthealy / Nov 13 2007 1:27 pm

    Well, after a lengthy philosophical post like that, I feel the best thing for me to do is to wish you a happy belated birthday. And of course, to welcome you to the thirtysomething club where all the cool people hang out.

    Ian
    35 and counting

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