My good friend, and creator of the The 30 Before 30 Project, Celine Novenario has been generous enough to do a guest post for me. I hope it helps all of you who are turning the big 3-0, and if you’ve already seen the 3s come and go, this may inspire reflection and motivation for the lifetime that is still left ahead for you. It will be a wonderful one if you allow it!
Turning 30 Doesn’t Have to be the End of the World
by Celine Novenario
For most people, the thought of turning 30 brings about such panic and despair that it might as well be the end of the world. For me, it almost literally was.
My 30th birthday fell on May 21, 2011, the day designated by infamous evangelist Harold Camping as Judgment Day. To me, it seemed oddly serendipitous that the Rapture fell on the day of my big 3-0. There’s nothing quite like the impending end of the world to make people stop and take stock of their lives. Though I never did believe that the world would come to an end once the clock struck 6, I did find myself thinking at that moment: If it all ended right here and right now, I would be fine with that.
It was amazing to me that I could think that when it wasn’t so long ago that I was drifting through life, aimless after the relationship I had anchored the past three years of my life on disintegrated. When you spend that much time in a serious relationship, you map your life out in terms of where the relationship is going: Should I go to graduate school? If I really want to, I should do it now since we’ll probably get married within the next two years … and if I get pregnant right away, good luck getting any studying done! What should I do this summer? I’d really love to experience summer in Ibiza but we haven’t done summer in his country yet so maybe it’s best to go there and get to know his family and friends more. Wait, is he even free to travel this summer?
I had gotten so accustomed to planning my life around our relationship that our eventual break-up was not just devastating; it also caused me to lose my bearings. What was I supposed to do now?
Thankfully, I found the beautiful answer to this question relatively quickly: Whatever the hell I want! For once in my life, I wasn’t tied down by my father’s rules or a boyfriend’s plans. So I gave myself permission to be selfish and pursue my heart’s desires, no matter how frivolous or outlandish. I wrote a list of 30 things I wanted to do and slapped on my 30th birthday as a deadline to make it stick.
What followed was an unforgettable 15 months of no-holds-barred living. I pursued and overcame challenges with a single-mindedness I was both surprised and proud to find out I possessed. I spent an entire month on a vegetarian diet and practicing Bikram yoga every single day, which both restored my health and belief that my body still had some tricks up its sleeve. I went from running zero to 26.2 miles in 8 months and accomplished something that seemed impossible years ago when I crossed the finish line of the New York Marathon. I got over my insecurities in the kitchen by successfully banging out a five-course gourmet dinner for my friends. I discovered the fearless adrenaline junkie within when I skydived from a plane at 14,000 feet, bungee-jumped off the Macau Tower, learned how to surf in the waters of Portugal, swam with whalesharks and spelunked for over four hours through the underground caves of Sagada. I got rid of that nagging “Did I miss out?” feeling that hits most people as they approach their 30s with some unapologetic partying: dancing my ass off in Ibiza, whooping it up at Mardi Gras in New Orleans and rocking out in the three-day music festival, Coachella. I learned to be comfortable in my own skin and to celebrate womanhood: I took lessons in burlesque, tried my hand at pole-dancing, and joined the denizens of Ibiza in baring bosoms to the Mediterranean sun.
By the time I blew out those candles brandishing the big 3-0, I didn’t feel an ounce of sadness at bidding my 20s adieu. There were no more what-ifs and would’ve, could’ve, should’ves. If it all had to end that day, it would have been fine because I know I’ve lived.