I’ve always kind of hated nostalgia; it irks me when people love to dwell in memories of the “good ol’ days.” In my twenties, that meant peers who couldn’t get over the fun and free times of college, or even, astoundingly, high school. I enjoyed my high school experience (cheerleader for a year–yeah!) and am still close with my 3 best girlfriends from my high school. And college was a total blast; most of my memories involve just laughing really hard with friends, or gallivanting around Disneyland on Friday nights.
As great as those experiences were, I always had my sights set on the future too much to dwell on past chapters. I wanted to travel, to see the world, to fall in love and get married, to become a successful writer–these goals and dreams gave me momentum and little desire to “go back.”
But what is it about turning 30? (Oh geez, thinks the reader, here she goes talking about turning 30 again!) It’s such a huge milestone for women in our culture today (or so said my ever-wise spiritual director as I approached my birthday). Turning 30 makes a woman look back on where she’s been, look around at where she’s at, peer ahead at where she’s going. And she takes stock. Did she use her time wisely? Where is she going now? Does she have what she needs to get where she wants to go? What is weighing her down? Fears? Relationships? Bad habits? Stagnation? What drives her forward?
I think my future looks the least clear it’s ever looked. Everyone my age is going through this in a way, I suppose–especially those who are still childless. It’s no longer a matter of, “Well, when I finish high school I will go to college, after which I will travel, get a job, get my masters, find a spouse…” Okay–did all those things. Now what? *Cough* a baby *Cough*. Wait, what? The next checkbox on my “life list” (not to be confused with “bucket list”) is childbearing, and I don’t feel ready for that. And even if/when I do have a baby, that doesn’t fill up the rest of my 50+ years (God willing) in this life.
Without the forward momentum of leaping over cultural rites of passage, I no longer feel like I’m moving, and life feels a lot less meaningful, to be honest. I think that’s why I’ve found myself caught up in the occasional or not-so-occasional reverie, calling up beautiful memories of my college years, my travels, even those confusing mid-twenties when I was poor and in grad school but at least I went to dance parties on the weekends.
I guess this is the question that haunts me: Is the fun over? Will I ever know fun like I did on those Friday nights at Disneyland, when I would laugh so hard with my friends I’d wake up with sore abs the next morning? Will I ever again know the silly, free-spirited dance parties of my YWAM and camp counselor days? What about the thrill of rootless, open-ended travel? I have a feeling people with kids will tell me it’s just so fun having kids, and what about all those dance parties in the kitchen? (Ugh, the worst “parenting-is-awesome!” cliche of our time.) I just don’t see it. I think this is mostly about me not wanting to grow up, which is funny because before this, I was eager to grow up, even if I was a little scared of it.
I don’t really have a way of wrapping this post up in a bow, because I’m living it, and interested to know if you’re living it too? Most of my readers are in their mid-twenties to mid-thirties–do you think your best years are behind you? Have your fun-levels decreased as you’ve gotten older? Or are we seeing those carefree days with rose-colored glasses? Do we just need to be more fun to attract more fun? Do I just need a few more cocktails? 😉 And, friends with kids, are you finding forward momentum by living milestones and rites of passage with/through your children?