On Sunday, I turned 28. Despite being admittedly less agile at recovering from nights of drinking, a bit softer in parts my memory swears were firmer before, and no closer at all to figuring out what the heck I’m doing with my life, my twenty-seventh year treated me well. Actually, dammit, I treated it well. It’s starting to feel more like I’m in the driver’s seat. And not in a decisive, hyper-confident way—just in an “it’s up to me” way. I feel like I can control how my life is going, and in what direction it is heading, as opposed to seeing how it is going to treat me. I have loved getting past the hump that was true mid-twenties in the same way I loved getting through other periods of growing pains. But isn’t it true that sometimes, you don’t even know you’re passing over a hump? Because life is relative and it’s only accessible from one perspective. It isn’t omniscient, or big-picture. All we can do is keep moving forward, only able to look around and look backwards, if we want. So it’s only when looking way back over our tiny tracks behind us that we realize exactly what topography we traveled, in essence.
Feeling like I’ve crossed over a hump means feeling like I’ve come out on the other side different than when I entered. Here are some of the things I’ve learned about my current age and this stage of my life:
I feel like I’m gaining control over my thoughts and feelings. Call me crazy, but I mostly expected that this would happen around my 7th or 8th birthday, if not right after the solidification of my skull as a toddler. But, with much experience under my belt, I realized that such a feat is highly underestimated, and not even one in which I’ll ever truly reach nirvana. But, I finally feel like I’m gaining the ability to recognize that just because I’m feeling or thinking something doesn’t mean it’s the be-all, end-all, and nor is it permanent, or necessarily even important or right. What a freeing accomplishment this has been. And I’ll say, it hasn’t been without work, but I’ll also say a lot of it did feel like it was simply due—that time was running its course, and my brain was getting a better, wiser handle on itself.
I have really, really good friends who are also really good people. And my friends really know me. And I have confidence and trust in our relationships, hopes about our futures, and reflections that truly make my heart swell. The female friendships that I’ve been experiencing the last couple years are beyond gratifying, and come with them so many moments of closeness and sharing that I find the companionship to be more invigorating and intoxicating than ever before. This wasn’t always the case, and I know friendships ebb and flow, as does overall social well being, but so far, I love friendship at this stage of life.
I’m both stronger and more vulnerable than I knew. I’m strong, brave, and capable. But I’m also more aware of my flaws and my fears than ever before. In learning more about myself, I’ve also learned what scares me the most. I’m constantly looking the scaries in the face. But with that has come an arsenal of weapons and tools (over time) for rebuilding and adapting. In fact, one gigantic thing I took away from my time in therapy was that it’s difficult to control the world, but it’s more manageable to develop a toolbox for adapting to it. It sounds like a simple concept but it’s a huge one in practice. It’s the difference between being crippled by doubts and fears, and learning to maneuver with them or despite them.
I’m so much more comfortable in my own skin than ever before. This might be my favorite part of this age, actually, and the part that makes me most excited for the decade ahead, because I’ve heard and read that our thirties are our most confident years for many of us women. I love feeling like I belong where I am, and that I have a good brain in my head and heart in my chest. I love feeling like I’m coming into my own, and that in many ways, I’ve already landed. While I’m nowhere near feeling like I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be or fully content on any sort of existential level (I think for many, this is a difficult feeling to come by, maybe ever), I’m increasingly confident in the body in which I reside and with the thoughts that fill my head, as well as outwardly with the people and world around me. I think this has played an enormous role, too, in my aforementioned love of friendship at this age. Being genuine with myself has led to closer, better relationships.