With just a few months left in my 30’s I’m nearly out of the last decade of what can reasonable considered my youth.Â I’m too close to those years to be a good historian, so I can’t offer advice what not to miss during the years that start with “3.” But I can give *8 Things that Marked my Third Decade.
1. Childrearing. This was the decade of heavy-duty kid ranching. Eden and Cate made it through their first decade or so while I conquered my third. I have to say, I timed it pretty well. Late 20’s is not a bad time to have a baby, and I certainly wouldn’t have wanted to wait too far into my 30’s. I needed the energy of my relative youth to get me through the toddler years.
2. Learning to Love Teens. If you had asked me to mentor teenagers when I was 20 I would have thrown a book at your head. I was just too close to my own youth to want to submerge myself into that turbulence. But once I got part of my 30’s under my belt, the extra distance gave me a fierce love for young people in the “coming of age” process. I was surprised to find myself living with a teenager-adopted-by-affection, and gathering more bright young souls into my heart. Now a conversation with one of my young friends is one of the most sustaining things that can happen to me. Who would have thunk?
3. Professional Suicide. In my 30’s I worked hard to get ordained, and then promptly left organized religion. I shot an up-and-coming career in the foot in order to write honestly about faith, doubt, and intuitive spirituality. Know what? I don’t regret it.
4. The Disintegrating Body. For some reason I thought that if I made it through my teens without any major health issues – no allergies, no asthma, etc – that I would be healthy for the rest of my life. I don’t know why I didn’t realize that our bodies slowly unravel in the second half of life. After childrearing, the main task of my thirties has been learning to manage chronic pain. Bummer.
5. Embracing My Shadow Self. In these waning years of 30-something I’ve found myself saying goodbye to being good. Being good is severely overrated. Two years ago my friend Amelia inspired me to take on bad habits for my New Year’s Resolution. Changed. My. Life. I’ll tell you about it sometime.
6. Do Less. This has been major theme for me in my 30’s. America is too fast. Patriarchy teaches you shitty things about achievement. More is not more. The more I cut back, the more I realize I can cut. It feels SO good to be more obligation-free.
7. Artist-Writer. A few years ago, even though it made no financial sense, I rented a studio. About the same time I read Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art. The combination of the two helped me adopt a new identity as a professional writer and newbie artist. Bliss!
8. Reimagining & Becoming. When I was in my early 30’s, I was complaining to Barbara Henderson about my confusion over what to do with my life. She said, “Rachelle, the thing is, you have a good engine. You just need to figure out what kind of car you want to put it in.” I remember replying, “Barb! I thought I’d have that shit figured out by now!” (It’s always good to swear in front of a former nun.) She just laughed. The thing is, you keep reinventing yourself with every age and stage. It’s called becoming. Who knew?
What *8 Things do you think should happen in your 30’s? What *8 Things are defining your third decade now? Grab a button and blog along, or put your *8 in the comments below. Cheers!