Notes on turning 29
Several years ago, I spotted one of those inspirational quotes on Pinterest: “You only have 10 years to be in your 20s.” I’ve kept it in mind over the years: am I making the most of these (supposedly) carefree and fun years of my life?
As I enter the last year of my 20s, I’m mostly pleased with how I’ve spent the last decade. I’ve lived in three countries and traveled to dozens more. I’ve made lots of impulsive choices and plenty of mistakes. I’ve made some money and spent some money and saved some money. I’ve gone bungee-jumping and skydiving and hot air ballooning, and frolicked through flower fields and watched the sun rise and read more books than I can count. I’ve come to terms with the fact that even with three decades of life experience under my belt, I still can’t keep white jeans clean.
A wise professor once told me it’s impossible to plan your life on a timeline. And in many ways, I believe that’s true: you can’t plan or predict the twists and turns and opportunities life might throw your way. But somehow, I’ve managed to enter the last year of my 20s in many ways how I would have dreamt it: I have a pug and a husband, a good job and a beautiful apartment, a community of friends in my city and across the globe. The future is bright, with good things and big changes on the horizon.
That said, my life is far from perfect. I’ve lived out my 20s on the internet, with maybe more than my fair share of agonized self-reflection and outside criticism. I struggle constantly with comparison and feeling like I’m always falling short—that I don’t travel enough, that I don’t work hard enough, that I’m not the wife or daughter or friend that I want to be. I wish I could say that more of that self-induced stress has faded into calm confidence with age, but I’m starting to accept that some of that that anxiety mixed with ambition is an impermeable part of my personality.
But as I get ready to finish out my 20s, I’m most proud of keeping a promise I made to myself 10 years ago. I’ve celebrated every birthday this decade in a different country, even when it’s been expensive and difficult and logistically challenging. The memories of adventures in new cities, perfect beach days, stunning road trips and laughter with new friends, old friends, best friends have been worth the trouble.
I’m celebrating 29 today in Copenhagen, Denmark–a city of cobblestone streets and incredible design that I’ve long wanted to visit. In a fateful twist, I’m here with my friend Renee: I met her on a bike tour in Munich the summer after I graduated from college, the solo backpacking trip through Europe that sowed the early seeds of adventure. We ended up paragliding over the Bavarian Alps the next day. A few years later, she welcomed me to Australia with open arms (and a couch to crash on, and plenty of beers) and then roadtripped across the USA with me when I decided to move to New York City.
We’re going to catch up over gin and tonics and a roller coaster ride, and indulge in all of the open-faced sandwiches and beautiful bookstores and design stores we can find. I’m thrilled to be here, and so excited to see how this year unfolds.