Goodbye 20’s

I’m turning 29 today.

I’m officially entering the last year of my 20s. 30 is quickly on its way and I’m not handling it very well.

My friends who are already 30 or turing 30 this year tell me to STFU in one way or another. My friends who are in their 40s also tell me to STFU. But, truth be told, I’m not handling it well.

I can actually feel my body aging and most of that has to do with being overweight. I’m sure if I get myself down to a healthy weight, the feeling of getting old won’t be so bad.

Not to mention that because I’m agnostic, I don’t believe in an afterlife. Death is totally more scary when you don’t have any place to go after you stop breathing. Aging is therefore scary as effing hell (ya know, the one I don’t believe in).

Most of my 29 anxiety stems from my current life status. I’m light years behind where I thought I would be. I think the only thing that did go according to “plan” was being married. I figured by now I would have gotten hitched and enjoying married life before starting to have children, which I wanted to do at 30.

The idea of attempting to begin trying for a baby a year from now is a scary effing prospect and probably won’t happen.

I’m in this weird, but awesome position right now where I absolutely LOVE what I do. I love my writing gig and I love the organization that I’m doing it for. I love my tutoring job and I love the company I’m doing it for.

Unfortunately, as happy as I am doing what I’m doing, I’m making very little money doing it. Over the course of the past few months, I’ve actually become OK with living a low-budget lifestyle. I’ve never been one for luxury or labels, but I’ve reached a point that I’m OK doing with less material things.

But, I wish we had more money for things that I think the general population is deserving of.

  • Healthcare
  • A home of their own (whatever that means for you. For us it means a house.)
  • Healthy food, grown in a sustainable, responsible way
  • The ability to travel to see friends and family who live far away.
  • And a social life

I don’t care that we don’t have cable, but I’d like to be able to see my friends and family more often. I don’t care that I buy my clothing from Goodwill, but I would like to be able to go to the doctor when I’m sick. I’d like to be able to buy new sneakers when I need them and I’d like to be able to get by without help from my parents. They don’t help us a lot, but just the fact that I need the help makes me feel guilty and ashamed.

I figured that by the time I was 29 I would have made it to a mid-level position where ever I was working. Despite having been a professional reporter for almost four years, I still feel very “entry level” with so much to learn. I figured I’d be further along in whatever career I had.

I’m often told that I need to cut myself some slack considering we’re in the middle of the Great Recession. Jobs in media have been tough to find since I graduated and things have clearly just gotten worse. Jobs in the media are also traditionally low-paying so I never should have expected to be making a living wage as a writer anyway.

Sometimes I wonder how much my own work ethic came into play with where I am in life. I think I work pretty hard, but I’m no workaholic. I value my personal time that I spend with my husband or doing things that I enjoy. Sometimes that doesn’t leave time for networking or taking on an extra story. I know I’m easily distracted and can sometimes be downright lazy (which is why a job with deadlines is perfect for me) but I still feel like I work pretty hard.

Sometimes I think I should have tried harder. But, I don’t want to give up that personal time that I find valuable. Who cares if I’ve advanced my career if I’m constantly stressed out and don’t have time for my family? I’ve gotten to a point that I’m unsure if I can do both without sacrificing my personal life.

It’s not all bad

As much as a Debbie Downer as I often feel, I try to remember the awesome things that I have going for me at 29.

I have not one but TWO jobs that I enjoy doing. I don’t mind going to work every day. And I go to the most boring meetings on the planet, so you’d think I’d absolutely hate my life on those days, but I don’t hate it. I love the news organization that I’m a part of and I love that I’m in a position to help it grow and become something even more awesome.

I love teaching my students.

I love to watch them progress and get better at reading and writing. I love that I only do it part time so that when they finally start to stress me out, I leave for the day. I love breeding a new generation of young writers. I love making sure they know the difference between there, their and they’re because if they can master that, they’re already smarter than most adults (I definitely checked that sentence multiple times to make sure I used the right they’re).

And I’m happy and thankful that both my employers see some sort of potential in me.

I hate that my parents have to help us here and there, but I’m so thankful that they can and that they do it because they want to. I’m thankful that they recognize how far we’ve come and that we don’t take their help for granted. I’m thankful that they don’t see us as slackers who are looking for a handout. I’m glad that they were responsible and successful so that they could help me when I needed it. I hope I can get to a point that I can do the same for my own children.

I’m happy that despite living close to the poverty line, we are still able to pay our bills and keep a roof over our head. As much as I sometimes hate this drafty, old apartment, I’m thankful that I have it.

Most of all I’m very happy for being able to go through all this and not have it affect my relationship with my husband. So often money, or lack thereof, strains a relationship, but Chuck and I are doing fine. Our relationship is still fantastic and we’re taking everything one day at a time. Going through this together has aligned our priorities and helps us focus on what is really important to us and in our lives.

I thought I would be doing better, but I never expected to be super rich or successful by 29. And clearly I’m not. But, in all the important ways, I think I’m better off than many people.


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