30 is one of those landmark ages that you either can't wait to hit- or more likely, you dread. I can't say I'm dreading my 30th birthday two weeks from now, but I'm certainly not planning a party either. It's a time to take stock of where you are in life and determine where you want to be. We all occasionally feel the pressure to keep up with the people around us. I've felt this. You see your friends around you moving along quite nicely with their lives and you may feel like you're always getting ready to live your life, but not really living. Then you come across ridiculous online lists of things people say you simply must do before you turn 30, as if 30 is some door that closes out things you can no longer do.
1. Find a life partner
It's never even been close. Unless my cat, Sweet Pea, is my life partner, in which case I found her in January 2011. Maybe this one is yet to be determined.
2. Start a family
And thank goodness for this one, actually. While science and my biological clock tell me my childbearing years are dwindling as I approach 30, my brain tells me I'm not quite ready for someone to call me "Mommy."
3. Buy a home
What do I know about mortgages and plumbing disasters? I'm a liberal arts student! Renting is where it's at. Sleeping on other people's couches- not so much. Working on that.
4. Pay off student loans
Geez, I graduated at 29! Barring a lottery win there's no way I could have paid this off in a year. My statistics professor always told me that the lottery is a tax on stupid people, so I just can't bring myself to buy tickets. My mom says, "You can't win if you don't buy a ticket." They're both right.
5. Get in peak physical condition
Not yet. I'll never run a marathon, but I'll keep trying to be healthy. It does seem a shame to get in shape and then consider having a child. That must have sucked for Jessica Simpson, but at least Weight Watchers paid her to lose weight. I'm doing this shit pro-bono.
6. Go backpacking somewhere exotic
I'm not a backpacker. I'd move to a lovely country and stay there, but I've seen all the Hostel films and even though my rational brain tells me they aren't real there is no way I can convince myself it's safe to backpack. Yes, tell me I'm missing out. I'm all right to miss out on this one.
7. Go blonde
Oh man. If I could go Gwen Stefani blonde and have a hairstylist take care of it for me I'd try it. I wore a blonde/pink Nicki Minaj wig last Halloween and I sort of loved the blonde on me. Sure, it might look a little bizarre with my freckles, but my makeup artist would take care of that (if we're going to dream, dream big).
8. Find my dream job
I've worked at jobs that I have really enjoyed in the past ten years. I haven't found my niche quite yet, but I know I will. I don't have to have it all figured out by the time I turn 30. I should probably have a handle on this by 35, though.
9. Become fully bilingual
"But you had 12 years of French language education and did very well in your courses!" Yup. But you should know that French classes in Ontario don't get you anywhere near bilingual. You need a French word search done? You want to conjugate irregular verbs? Sure. You want me to read a recipe written in French? I can muddle through. You want me to have a conversation with someone in French? Nope. I wish. I'd have an upper-level government job by now.
10. Get a Masters degree
Technically, I could be finishing up a M.A. right now. I did finish my B.A. a year ago. I wasn't ready for grad school yet. I'm still not. My Latin professor told me not to do my M.A. at any school that wasn't going to pay for it for me and I think that's wonderful advice. I certainly can't afford any more student loans (see above!).
Who needs the pressure of a list of someone else's priorities? Yes, these are ten pretty great goals, but why would I live my life according to someone else's timeline? My life, my timeline. And you know what? Most importantly, there are a number of things I did do before I turned 30 that I am so glad I've achieved.
1. Lived on my own
Yes, I had roommates in college, but I've lived on my own for years now. I've enjoyed years of watching what I want to watch on my very own couch while not sharing Doritos with a roommate or partner. I love my space. There's only a short number of years when you're young when you can sit alone watching TV in your underpants and I worry about people who don't know that simple pleasure.
2. Fell in love
I didn't think it would happen for me, but it did. And it ended. And I survived. Most boring romantic comedy idea in history, but a realistic love story.
3. Moved across country
There's nothing like an exciting 1000-mile move to bring you new adventures and new friends! It was terrifying initially- I can't lie- but it was one of the best decisions of my life.
4. Took belly dance classes
One of my very favourite hobbies- I know everyone says it, but it's easy to fit in active time if you love what you're doing. I love to shake my groove thang. I love Middle Eastern music. And most importantly, I love the jingly sound of a beautiful hip scarf.
5. Adopted a cat from the SPCA
I wanted a kitten, but you fall for the one meant for you. She's outlasted two relationships- she's not going anywhere. If you have cat allergies you can't handle, find another potential girlfriend.
6. Took two vacations to the Caribbean with my best gal pals
I went to the Dominican Republic once and Cuba once. I never thought I'd like lying on a beach all day (I'm way too fair for sitting in the sun!), but give me a shady spot, a few great books, and a bucket of SPF 30 and I'm set.
7. Obtained my B.A.
I never wanted to go to university, but after working for a few years I realized that I would need a B.A. to affect any real changes. I've now realized I'll probably need more than that, but this is a good start and I loved so many of my classes and professors.
8. Studied Latin
A philosophy professor once told me, "If you want your argument to sound intelligent, insert some Latin." I loved my Latin classes and I had a wonderful professor. Plus, Latin helped me whoop an ex-boyfriend's brother at Cranium (I'm not a competitive girl, but when someone underestimates me I have to feed it to them) and really helps with my "Jeopardy" playing.
9. Mastered making a killer risotto
After being inspired from a wonderful college friend and her delicious risotto, I had to try making my own. Nailed it. It's a new favourite!
10. Got a tattoo
I went with two college roommates and we all got one. It was a great experience and I've been wanting another tattoo for the past 10 years- lots of ideas, but nothing concrete. Every time I watch one of those tattoo shows I worry about ending up with something hideous and hopeless.
Most important to me is my list of things to do before I turn 31: find a wonderful career, rent a great apartment, and be happy with a consistent routine of work, sleep, healthy activity, and social outings. That's my timeline. Don't feel pressured to take belly dance classes and I won't feel pressured to get married. I won't rag on you for not taking Latin and you don't give me trouble for not being able to carry on a conversation in French. I'm doing things in my own damn time and you should too.