This past weekend I celebrated my 30th trip around the sun. In typical cancer fashion, I have been feeling all of the feelings the past few weeks as I reflect on the deep significance placed on not only birthdays and age, but specifically on the age thirty. I’ve been asking myself questions like: Who sets these standards society grips onto? What role does capitalism play in all of this? Why do so many in their 20s get lost in this? Is this just ‘part of the process’ or can we navigate this in a better way? How can I give my younger self some grace and compassion? What goals feel good to me now? And more…
In my early twenties I used age thirty as a milestone that would keep me in a vicious vortex of overworking, trying to prove my worth, seeking external validation and making decisions for others, rather than myself. I thought that at thirty I would magically have it all figured out. I put enormous pressure on myself in my twenties that on one hand propelled me forward and kept me growing, on the other burnt me out. It took two broken wrists, a thyroid condition, a heart arrhythmia, debilitating gut issues and finally a global pandemic during my twenties to slow me down enough to gain awareness around who I really was and what I truly desired.
I remember my goals vividly…at 30 years old I aspired to:
Leave my nursing career to be a CEO/millionaire
Have a Mercedes Benz G-wagon
Be married to a partner I adore
Be the creator of a powerful community of like minded women
Start trying for children
Live in a condo downtown Toronto and own a cottage in Tobermory area
As I look back on this list, it’s all so clear to me. All of these goals I had set for myself were external experiences that I thought would make me happy. As I moved through my twenties I started to slowly feel the fading of these aspirations and the remembrance of what my soul actually desired. All of these desires were feelings, not things. I have taken bold, inspired action through my life but it hasn’t always been aligned. While none of these goals are inherently wrong, and perhaps you aspire to some of them yourself, it was the meaning I attached to them. The hope that I would feel a certain way when I achieved them. I really did think the feelings came after the goal even though I knew this was not true, it was what was so deeply conditioned.
I thought that as I approached 30 looking at this list would scare me, but instead, it reminded me of the growth I’ve experienced. I proudly felt into these goals this weekend, had conversations with friends and family, and reflected on how I truly feel. One word came up over and over again: content. And guess what? I have not one of the things on this list. Yet, the feelings I sought out through these goals are so present for me: freedom, love, belonging, safety, peace, ease & trust. These feelings did not come from the things. And, I have realized I no longer want some of these things and I am okay with it, too. I have accepted through learning more about myself, that I have my own process, energetic needs and desires - and, the more I stay in attuned to those the more I can best use my gifts in this world.
I wish I could give my twenty year old self the biggest hug, and tell her to enjoy the journey, to lean into the support of others, to go to therapy sooner, to be kinder to herself, take breaks and have the courage to leave things. I’d remind her that there is more to life than the big moments, the hustling, the achieving goals and accolades, and that she would be safe and supported in ways she could have never imagined. That she would in fact live by water but it wouldn’t be how she expected. That she could stop trying so hard to please others, and focus on pleasing herself. That she would be building a business and developing a community. That life won't look at all like what was planned. That she could let go of the high expectations she placed on herself. That she needed to do less, and be herself more.
I know it sounds cheesy but it all comes down to trust. Being able to trust is a privilege, financial security is a privilege and so is the position I am in now. It is not lost on me. I am deeply grateful. That said, I am truly content with where I am, for once. I am at peace with myself. A decade ago this feeling only felt possible through achieving my goals stated above. But, through coming back home to myself I have realized that peace is a feeling I must cultivate internally. I am peaceful now, not when ____ happens, but now. Most of this peace comes from accepting that we as humans are not designed to have it all figured out, that nobody does, and that there is no rush either. I hope you too can accept whatever it is you need to for peace to be a part of you, too. Life may not always turn out as planned, and there will always be struggles. But please remind yourself that you are so much more than the goals you set for yourself. You are inherently worthy just for existing as the special being you are, I promise.
For all of those past thirty: I am curious to know, what would you tell your twenty year old self?
With so much love,