I have entered a season of transitions. My doctoral program is finished. My dissertation is submitted, signed, and approved. In a few weeks I will be leaving Iowa City, leaving Iowa, leaving the Midwest. In a month and a half I will be celebrating my 29th birthday and I have no idea what I’m doing with my life.
I am a dreamer by nature. I can play the “what if?” game for hours. What if I had a million dollars? What if I stuck to an exercise plan? What if I hadn’t chickened out? What if I’d said yes? I can work through a dozen sides of an imaginary conversation, walk you through my imaginary dream house, and describe someone I’ve never met. I have bigger dreams about how I want to live the rest of my life and the person I want to be.
It’s hard to hold onto these dreams when the future seems so uncertain. I have a short term plan, but I have no idea what I will be doing or where I will be in 10-12 months. This scares me.
Turning 29 also scares me in a way. I few regrets, but I can feel myself moving into a new phase of life and I am realizing my 20s were nothing like I imagined they would be. I was so naive. First, I thought I knew what I wanted, but I didn’t. Second, I lacked the bravery to ask/take what I wanted. Third, I had unrealistic expectations.
I thought I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. I thought I’d be teaching high school English and history. Later, I thought I’d be teaching college. Now that I have the education to teach at the college level, I know that this is not I will be doing in the longterm.
I’ve been scared most of my life. Too scared to speak up when my happiness and well-being really mattered. Too scared to risk rejection. My fears resulted in missed opportunities.
When I was in my teens and early 20s, I thought I’d finish school, find a job, get married, have kids. Knowing my parents were married at 25 & 29 and had their first child at 27 & 31, I really really thought I would do about same. I thought I’d have a big family. Now I realize that I will not have the life I imagined or the life my parents lived and that’s okay.
In this upcoming year before my 30th birthday, I’m going to take sometime to re-prioritize my life and enter into my 30s with grace and aplomb. I cannot force a life plan, but I can be thoughtful, graceful, confident, and open to growth.
You may be familiar with Glamour’s “30 Things Every Woman Should Have and Should Know By the Time She’s 30″ or Caroline Rothstein’s recent spin/rebuttal. Google “30 Before 30” and you’ll find several blogs devoted to quarter-life bucket lists like this one. Neither Glamour nor Rothstein’s list resonate with me. The blogs are are very personalized, but you really get a sense of the bloggers by the goals they make.
I will be starting my own 30 Before 30 project beginning August 2013 to August 2014. It may start on the first or on my birthday—I haven’t decided which. My list will include things that I think I should do take make the most of my 29th year of life, personal development, and possibly some Graceful Life experiences. My overall goal will be to make this transition period productive. I honestly don’t know what the outcome will be—I will probably have many of the same questions I have now about my future. The ultimate test will be completed experiences and personal growth.
Join me in my season of transitions.