Stuck at 30 [unedited]

I haven’t written in a long time. I’ve been somewhere between really happy, complacent, and not happy for some time. it is an odd feeling- likely due to underlying mental health “illnesses” that dictated aspects of my life long before I could have deciphered the impacts mixed with the ebbs and flows of a romantic relationship filled with a love so strong that any turmoil that arises seems to overshadow it and the settling in of a new life and a job without an end date … or so I hope.

So, I turned 30 last week. An age I’ve wanted to be since I was 23. The age where I could rightfully, so I thought, get upset when underestimated on the excuse of my young age. A milestone birthday.

I know you can never predict your future. I know you should never predict the happiness you will ascribe to a certain event or a certain accomplishment. I know better. I know myself. I also know I’m good at fooling myself when I want to.

30 is an accomplishment. 30 is something I earned. 30 is the moment I move on from 20-29 and toward the future. Its the third round, the third act, third take.

When we learn something or try something new for the first time, we almost always need hands-on, constant assistance. We fumble and fall, and it is expected and forgiven because of its newness. We are expected to be unable to succeed at the new endeavor on our own. We are learning, observing, listening, getting frustrated, building the foundation for something bigger later on – even if we don’t realize it at the time. The act of learning and growing is seemingly solely based on self, centralized on the task at hand, and we often forget the coaches and teachers who are equally important in forming that foundation.

When we try something the second time, the training wheels are still on – just in case – but we have more confidence. A false confidence for most. We want to try our craft on our own for the first time, but the instructor is still necessary, just in case we forget the motion , the stroke, the word, the key, the rhythm or the words. We take action knowing that if we take the wrong one, we will be corrected, or perhaps ask for help… that is, if you’re that type.

On the third try our coaches, teachers, instructors, mentors – whoever it may be- tend to take a step back. How will you progress if you are not given the opportunity to make a mistake and self-correct? If you miss the basket, chances are you know why. If you don’t, you either keep missing until the day you don’t or you bury your pride and ask for the answer. The third try is tough as hell, but also fucking fun. That feeling when you make the shot on your own or get an answer right without any assistance. When you bake a cake and this time, this third time, no one helped you and it turned out beautifully… the highs Are such highs. Similarly the lows.. the lows feel so personal. Especially if in this third round you succeeded at first and then suddenly can’t seem to succeed again, no matter how hard you try. Indeed, you may discover on this third try that you don’t know why you are trying at all- that this craft, this skill, this sport – that one you thought would bring you joy, would not. No matter how hard you tried. You may build resentment at your teacher, instructor, coach or mentor for leading you astray. You may continue anyways- after all, you’ve come this far. Or, you may start over with something knew, knowing that skills are transferable. That third try, it’s key. It’s tough as hell. It’s unpredictable. It’s exciting. And towards the end of it, it can also be draining. By the end of it, it can feel like you’ll never stop being a rookie. By the end of it, you might even forget the joy and freedom that comes with the relative newness of experience.

Most of us converge on our paths during our third tries. But, no matter what direction it takes us, completing that third try means something because it is earned. The solo struggle, the perseverance, knowing when to swallow your pride and start anew- whatever it may be – you did it on that third try. You suffered through the highs and lows, and after that third try, you can move forward with pride, knowing that whatever has been accomplished, whatever is next, whatever you learned – you truly learned through experience. When you speak on the matter, you can talk knowing that you are talking with authority, knowing you earned the right to. Even if others don’t see that authority, you know when it’s there. If you choose, you can provide tidbits of advice and guidance to those still in their first, second and beginning of their third tries, because we know the difficulty of making it through and how hard it is to learn through experience. You earned it.

On your fourth try, others notice. Others know. They know, or should know, to resist the urge to jump in to correct you when you struggle and that whatever your base knowledge is, whatever your habits are, are likely here to stay. Though minor movements or approaches may be tweaked, by the fourth try, it’s up to you to be willing to change and it’s also up to you to decide that you don’t want to. Either way, you earned that right. You may have had the skill and experience to do the exact same thing on the third try, but others probably didn’t listen. By your fourth try, you hardly remember your first and second attempts, and with the memories of your third try, you forge ahead with hopes of more consistent, yet enjoyable, attempts in the future. Each effort seems less like a singular event and more like a habit or a routine. You have figured out what works for you and adjust as needed. You have pride in the work you have put in. Unlike the times before, you can assume, for the most part, that you’ll only get better with time. Unlike the times before, when you make it this far, you know your future will be full of successes in your craft because you have learned how to make the craft your own. You’ll have set backs and hiccups, but you realize that along the way, during those other pesky attempts, you didn’t just learn something new… you learned how to adapt and how to accept setbacks and celebrate successes. You don’t have to dwell on the present. You are moving towards the future.

I turned 30 last week. I started my fourth decade. I have my attempts – successful and not as successful- under my belt. I have the pride of knowing I earned what I have accomplished. I have the joy of past memories and the hopes of new ones. I have experience to point to when I am doubted or have self doubt. I am prepared for the future.

I knew that by my fourth try at this thing, I’d be excited to show off, a little sad about what I hadn’t accomplished in rounds 1-3, but mostly excited to move forward with the invaluable experience i had acquired. I had made it here, with the help of others at first, then on my own, and now, with the comfort of knowing that if advice is needed, it would be asked for instead of forced.

What I didn’t know, what I couldn’t have predicted, was once I made it here, I would be stuck. Stuck in a reality where I was ready to move forward, armed with the joy of experience, but with a world on pause.

So, I guess I’ll sit it out a while. Stuck at 30. Hoping that by the time I get to try this thing again, I will not have digressed. I will not forget the lessons I fought tirelessly to learn. I will not lose the joy of knowing I earned my right to be here. I’m stuck at 30 when I thought I would be celebrating advancing to the next round.

I always thought that the celebration meant showing off what I had learned to those who got me through rounds 1-3. I couldn’t wait for the newfound feeling of respect round 4 would bring me and the pride I would bring those who taught me.

I’m stuck at 30 and I would give anything in the world to go back to the day before everything stopped. Go back to that moment and instead of anxiously awaiting my upcoming days filled with others’ admiration of my accomplishments, reveling in the moments spent with those helping and teaching me. Because we’re stuck, apart, and what does it even matter if I made it to round 4 if they’re not there when the world hits the unpause button?

29 Things I wish I could teach my 92-year old Grandmother

Aka my roommate

Aka my roommate

  1. The cashiers automatically print Powerball tickets as cash option, you don’t have to remind them three times, twice a week.
  2. You don’t have to use a cell phone to call another cell phone. You won’t be charged a long distance fee if you call a cell phone from a land line.
  3. It’s okay to go on a date once every fifty years. Or not. Dating kind of blows anyways.
  4. It is not polite to stare at someone’s cell phone screen and comment and/or ask about every single thing they’re doing on their phone.
  5. It’s okay to ask for help from those who love you. You’re not bothering us. We exist to help each other and we would never think less of you because you ask. It shows you trust us.
  6. You pet a dog, you don’t pat a dog. (Also, the “love taps” to my face kind of hurt)
  7. In the past when I haven’t been in a relationship with someone, it is not because I’m stubborn or there is a problem with me. It is not because I didn’t try or because I didn’t want one. It is because I am me and I owe it to myself not to settle.
  8. On that note, chivalry, as you know it, is kind of dead. (side note: just because I have a boyfriend that somehow defies this statement does not make it less true. But yes, you did “tell me so”. I found a unicorn. Shout out to that dude). Guys are not necessarily straight forward with their intentions. They won’t assume you are exclusive because they took you to drinks twice. On that note, I should not demand a full dinner-date the first time we go out. Most girls don’t get picked up for a first date or called on the phone when they are asked out. Texts, or whatever you call them, are our unfortunate new normal.
  9. I know you can move more. Walk more, you’ll feel better. I believe in you.
  10. I’m really not that fast at getting ready. I just don’t think you need an hour and a half to put on your makeup to walk to get your mail. Also, it’s okay if I forget to put lipstick on.
  11. You don’t believe it, but you’re my hero. Your kindness is overwhelming. Your words speak the truth. Your criticism is always from a place of love. Your wisdom is quirky and unparalleled. You are a maverick of your generation, but still the epitome of class. (One thing I don’t need to teach you: how to rock a pair of pants)IMG_6838
  12. Just because you can’t find something doesn’t mean the movers stole it during your move 6 years ago. They probably didn’t sell a picture of your brother on the black market.
  13. Wearing hearing aids is not a sign of weakness. No one even notices. If you are able to participate in a conversation, believe me, the only thing people are paying attention to are the hilarious things coming out of your mouth.
  14. 65 degrees does not warrant turning the heat on at 75.
  15. How to use on-demand.
  16. If I ever express feelings of hurt by any of your actions, you are not a failure. You are my favorite person in the world. If I get upset, it’s not because you have a fatal flaw. It’s because we are both human. And by the way, I notice when you listen to what I say and make huge efforts to make it better.
  17. Life could have always gone differently. It won’t go as planned. Forgive yourself if you think you messed something up along the way. I assure you, we all think you did a pretty damn good job. I mean, you gave us our existence, literally.
  18. They dropped the “the” from “The Facebook” over ten years ago. Similarly, I wouldn’t reference the internet as my internet. If anything, it’s probably Bill Gates’ internet.
  19. You look good for your age. But, you’ve looked good at every age. You were, you are, and you always will be beautiful.
  20. You don’t need to remind me, I do know you have the best fashion sense around. And yes, it’s all about having the eye and make sure it’s a good fit.
  21. You don’t need 37 extra bottles of detergent. If it’s been on sale that many times, it probably will be on sale again.
  22. The Bar Exam was really hard and it was not guaranteed that I would pass it, no matter how smart you think I am. But thank you for thinking that.
  23. There’s a mute button for the tv. It has the magical powers of allowing us to hear what we’re saying when we scream a conversation at each other.
  24. I know you’ve borrowed a few stories. Never stop telling them.
  25. You are as smart as I am and you are as capable. I grew up in a different time. I was given different opportunities.
  26. Physical therapy is not the same thing as working out.
  27. At some point, it is nice to sit on the nice furniture instead of just staring at it.
  28. Whenever I called you to “check up on you” every day for the ten years I lived away from home, it wasn’t for you, it was for me. Also, thank you for reminding me what I said the night before. I accidentally had 2 cocktails instead of the one I *normally* drink.
  29. How to make a foot of room in one of your four closets for me. Eh, you know this already. Nevermind. I’ll go get another hanging rack at target.

I have solely you to thank for allowing me to believe that my voice is worth listening to. That my accomplishments mean something and that I am loved. Thank you for being the encouragement that I didn’t know I needed, for expressing how proud of me you are when I think I’m just doing what is normal and expected, and for bragging about me to a point of embarrassment. Thank you for literally taking notes when I tell you about an accomplishment, so that you get every single detail right when you get to tell the nasty woman at the beauty shop about it. Thank you for crying when I left after visits home from Boston and Philadelphia and for showing me the purest form of love. You are my best friend and my favorite topic of conversation. You have filled my heart with your love and allowed it to open up to others’. Your sense of self is unparalleled, even if it means you offend people sometimes. We all know that “they should know”.

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Who’s grandma is awesome enough to commission an “L” necklace for law school graduation. I know you are “too classy for a poster”, so thank you for letting everyone know that Lollie graduated Penn Law in 2016. And you are her grandmother.

29 Things I’ve learned from Living with my 92 year-old Grandmother.

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  1. Don’t ever underestimate the power of folding your clothes properly, ironing everything and spending a few extra dollars to have your clothing tailored to fit you well.
  2. When receiving a present, always think about who you can re-gift it to – not because you are cheap, but because you’re fortunate and never need it more than someone else out there (but it is okay to keep the really good ones…).
  3. Always wear lipstick.
  4. Don’t ever forget that when you are young, you should enjoy it. This means sleeping when you can, and operating on a lack of sleep when it means another time to enjoy your youth. Friends are forever, but don’t live forever. Never feel the need to defend yourself for enjoying your life. One day, your butt will be stuck sitting down and you’ll wish it was still boogying.
  5. Control over the thermostat can be quite a contentious issue.
  6. Mean girls exist no matter your age. Don’t be naïve.
  7. (already a mantra, but reinforced) Talk to anyone and everyone, whenever and wherever you can. Don’t worry if whoever you’re with is embarrassed or uncomfortable because of it. This is how friendships begin, spirits are lifted, gaps are bridged and stories are started.
  8. When in doubt, more hairspray.
  9. When you think you’ve used enough hairspray, add another layer.
  10. QVC actually sells some decent items.
  11. You can survive without wi-fi. Cherish being disconnected with those you love, but expect Steve Harvey’s voice to be playing in the background.
  12. Always write thank you notes in a timely manner.
  13. Oftentimes people who say they are hard of hearing can hear a whole lot more than you would think.
  14. Spending time with those who raised you is the most valuable gift you can give. You may not receive a thank you note or even a thank you for all the chores you’ll do, errands you’ll run and favors you’ll give as a result, but then again, do you think four year-old you ever thanked them for everything they did? You have the power to change someone’s day just because you put aside time to spend with them. You can provide love to someone when those feelings may sometimes feel like a distant memory to them.
  15. If you can, write down your stories. Live a life that you are proud to put on paper, or, at the very least, would be an entertaining read.
  16. It’s A-Okay if you forget what day it is.
  17. You’re never too young to use eye-cream. The cheap stuff is just as good.
  18. Why would you ever buy Q-tips or paper plates anywhere else besides the dollar store?
  19. Speak your mind. Air your grievances. If you’re wrong, well, you’re wrong. You’ll figure that part out when it comes to it.
  20. If you are invited to an event and believe someone else should have also been included, don’t be scared to ask the host to extend an invitation.
  21. Keep track of what you make mental note of and what you’ve actually communicated out loud. You can avoid a lot of confusion.
  22. Always keep something in the home to serve unexpected guests. It may seem old-fashioned, but it’s never a bad idea.
  23. Check your receipts before you leave a cashier.
  24. You can never have too much closet space, too many shoes, or enough extra toilet paper.
  25. Get up and get dressed every day. It’s perfectly fine if “getting dressed” just means changing into a fresh pair of pajamas.
  26. There will always be challenges in your life that are beyond your control.
  27. Forgive yourself for past mistakes.
  28. Apparently, don’t date a Scorpio. Ever. She means it.
  29. One day, my grandmother WILL win the lotto.