Turning thirty is like crashing onto an uncharted island or the room at the end of 2001: A Space Odyssey– you wake up and say, “Okay, now what?” I turned thirty in July and it didn’t really sink in until a week ago, when I went to the dentist and had to write down my age. Suddenly I realized, “Holy crap, it’s true. I’m thirty.” I had just admitted it, after all.
I’m not entirely sure how I’m supposed to feel upon entering this new decade, but I’ve given it a lot of thought and come to the conclusion that I feel exactly the same- my hair didn’t turn gray overnight, nor did an archive of eternal wisdom magically dawn on me. I’ve decided that the best thing to feel as I begin this decade is confident. At least confident enough to build the life that I want, follow my gut and not be influenced by normalcy and tradition.
Part of the reason the decade is so open to interpretation has to do with variety of experiences. Some people enter their thirties as parents or married or starting a family, while some enter their thirties single and have no urgency toward those things. Some have reached a high-level position in their career, some have just finished graduate school and are beginning their career, then there is the common archetype of thirty-somethings looking for a career change. The thirties-experience runs the gamut.
A lot of people just want to find themselves in their thirties and that could be the common thread- the decade of finding self-assurance. If I get nothing out of my thirties except self-assurance, then it will be a success. I overcame some insecurities in my twenties and learned a lot about myself, but I can still do more to be true to myself on a regular basis.
While I thought I had a clear idea of what would make me happy in my twenties, accomplishing many of those ideas has only shown me how young I was and, actually, had no idea what would make me happy. I’ve had to go back to the drawing board a number of times, achieving something I wanted and then finding it wasn’t quite right. This seems to be the process of life- big edits that become smaller as I learn and experience (the perfect metaphor for a writer). For me, the biggest lesson in happiness has been that I don’t have to fight tooth-and-nail for it, nor climb an endless ladder to success- but if I look around, I will find happiness everywhere.
I look at my thirties as a blank canvas with endless possibilities. I can shape my career in the direction I want. I can travel the world. I can let go of the comparison-trap and external expectations to realize my potential.
Now that I’ve put into words my mindset for the future, I want to recap my twenties with a few accomplishments and set some goals for my thirties.
Things I accomplished during my twenties:
- Completing my M.F.A – In 2014 I completed my Master of Fine Arts degree in Film Directing at Florida State University. The program felt long and tedious at times, but was irreplaceable in terms of learning. My thesis film went on to screen at a number of film festivals and won an Audience Choice Award at the Indiana Comic Con Film Festival as well as placing as a Best Comedy finalist at Dragon Con’s Film Festival.
- Starting my career in film and television production – After graduate school, I freelanced in post-production for a few months before landing a position as a Floor Director for a major television news network. Within a year I was promoted to my current position as a Studio Operator, which involves camera operation and other technical production responsibilities.
- Publishing my nonfiction writing on a major website – A couple years ago I published a handful of articles on photography for CNN.com. It was a big accomplishment for my writing career and though I have shifted my focus to other projects, I still look back on that experience with fondness.
- Learning how to write fiction – At the end of my Bachelor’s studies in Journalism through Georgia State University, I became interested in screenwriting and literary writing. I have taken a number of classes and honed my craft as a narrative writer, finally reaching the point where I feel my work is at a professional level of quality, leading me to the beginning stages of writing a novel.
- Finding independence – This is probably my greatest internal accomplishment and, at times, the road to independence was long. By independence I mean feeling comfortable enough to do things on my own, make decisions for myself and find my own authenticity. This feels like something I will forever be working on, but I saw a significant amount of growth over the last decade.
Goals for my thirties:
- Travel – Many people use their twenties as a time to travel and see the world (according to the internet and social media, at least), however I haven’t traveled as much as I would have liked due to a major focus on my career. I don’t regret my time spent with my passions, but I would like to make more time for travel going forward.
- Become an author – I mentioned above that one of my accomplishments during my twenties was becoming a better writer, now I’m hoping to publish some of my short stories and, ultimately, books.
- Publish a novel – A bit repetitive at this point, but my biggest career goal, currently, is to publish a novel and hopefully turn my writing into a full-time career.
- Buy a house – Probably my only physical goal/dream is to set up a comfortable home in an area that I would enjoy living in. For me that means, a refurbished older house or a cute cottage in a place with beautiful natural surroundings that encourages an active lifestyle in a small city with a strong sense of community (Any suggestions?).
- Make peace with myself – Sometimes my brain feels like a pressure cooker. I have all these things I want to accomplish and high expectations of myself. There are things that I regret, even feel guilty about, and things I feel I could do better, at times beating myself up over. I’m learning that it is okay to not have it all figured out and that all of life is a work in progress. Hopefully during my thirties I can find internal peace and contentment and accept that things don’t always go as planned.
Have some advice for entering a new decade in life? Leave a comment!