We are officially on the clock folks!
Come midnight (or 7:39 pm tomorrow if you want to get technical) I will turn 30! I am setting off into a new decade, a new chapter, a new adventure, and I am 97% sure I’m excited about it!
To commemorate this milestone, I watched the cinematic masterpiece 13 Going on 30. If you haven’t seen the movie, honestly, shame on you, and if you have, you’ll recall that it follows Jenna Rink, a 13 year old who is dissatisfied with the state of her life and wishes she could be thirty, flirty and thriving—a wish that comes true thanks to some wishing dust, causing her to wake up 17 years in the future, in the body of Jennifer Garner (bless) with *almost* everything she hoped for.
Ironically, 13 Going on 30 was released when I actually was 13. So as I watched the movie, it got me wondering what I (and the world) were like back in that fateful year of 2004.
To take us back, let me give you some highlights:
- Justin Timberlake & Janet Jackson (ahem) performed at the Super Bowl.
- Michael Phelps won 8 medals at the Athens Summer Olympic Games.
- Mark Zuckerberg created Facebook—for Harvard students only at the time.
- Friends aired its final episode.
- The number one song of the year (and my longest running Myspace profile song) was Yeah! By Usher & Ludacris
- And the highest grossing film was Shrek 2
Unlike Jenna Rink, I wasn’t necessarily in a hurry to grow up. I was in a hurry to not feel dramatic. To not feel like everything was the end of the world. But I was more or less okay with taking things step by step.
I almost always wore my hair in a ponytail—sometimes gelled back—and was obsessed with my hair straightener. I exclusively wore PacSun t-shirts and Vans tennis shoes, and I had one denim skirt that I wore when I wanted to feel fancy. I didn’t own a cellphone, but I texted my friends (and played Snake) on my mom’s blocky, Nokia phone. I owned a CD player on which I played Simple Plan and Ashlee Simpson albums on repeat, desperate for the world to know how misunderstood I was, and I spent hours on my computer coding my Myspace profile so it looked just right. I was quiet, timid, and very prone to copying personality traits from other people that I thought were cool. I was also very naïve and optimistic, very much thriving in what I have grown to call “the bubble,” that would very soon be popped.
Even in hindsight, having lived through it and come out the other side of 13, I can openly admit it was awful. It was scary, awkward, confusing, dramatic, honest, and embarrassing. Funny thing is, at (nearly) 30, I don’t find those adjectives unfamiliar. Life, at any stage is scary in its own right, awkward in its own right, confusing in its own right, etc. But there is a noticeable difference between the fears and struggles I had at 13 and those I have now. One could say the obstacles we face at 30 are tougher, they’re deeper, they hold more consequences, but they also (for the most part) have more structure, more foundation. In the face of controversy at 30, we have such an elaborate tool belt compared to when we are 13. And while that doesn’t necessarily make life easy, it makes it seem survivable, it makes it seem worth it, because we’ve learned that there are good things beyond the bad things, and lessons behind the losses.
In a way, it feels like I’ve blinked and found myself here, the same way Jenna Rink closed her eyes at 13 and opened them at 30. Like Jenna, when I look around, I can see my world is markedly different—that I am markedly different. I’ve accomplished things I would have never imagined and survived pain and loss I didn’t know existed. Also, Mark Ruffalo is here, and isn’t that a marvelous thing?
It is hard to believe I’m going to be 30, but then it’s also hard to believe that I was once 13.
I don’t envy 13-year-old me. I don’t envy all that she had to walk through and learn and figure out. But I give her credit for making it through. For walking me, step by step, to this very day. And I’d like to believe that 40 or 50 or 80 year old me would have 30 year old me do the exact same thing. To take the days, the moments, the ups, downs, successes, and failures, one step at a time.
So as the clock counts down my final hours and minutes of 29, of my 20’s, of the first third(ish) of my life, I’m going to take a deep breath, reflect on some good memories, cringe at some awkward ones, and set off to make some new ones. I feel very lucky to be where I am, very proud of who I am and very grateful for who I have around me, and I can’t wait to see what’s coming next.