As I get closer to the 32 mark--a little over two months away--I've started thinking a little about what it's been like, being "in my thirties." (Actually, to be entirely truthful, this was more of an in-the-shower kind of musing than a profound and repetitive pondering.) It's something that seemed so far away for most of my life. Even when I was in my twenties, thirty sounded pretty old.
But there have been some pluses to being over thirty. Although I'm still sort of baffled whenever I get carded for buying alcohol--and this still happens more often than not--I DO find it incredibly amusing to see the look on people's faces after I whip out my ID and they look at my actual birthdate. Yes, that is a 7, as in the 1970s. Yes, I played with an Atari as a child, and not one of them fancy 2600 models, either. I played a text-based game called Zork on the Commodore 64 and distinctly recall wanting to throw it out the window. Yes, I remember who Oliver North is. I am Old Skool.
As I get a little further into my thirties, though, I'm also noticing a distinct feeling of...let's call it an underachievement complex. I wonder if this is something that affects people who were overachievers when they were younger. There are days when I feel like I'm wallowing in lost potential. I'm more likely, of course, to have one of those days if my dad happens to call to tell me So-and-So is going back to school to get a second master's degree (that actually happened--So-and-So, in this case, is already a medical doctor and is exactly my age). I know my dad does it to get my goat.
And believe me, my goat is well and truly gotten. I probably could have arrived there without his help. After all, I'm notoriously good at comparing myself unfavorably to other people. And it seems very easy for me to list all the accomplishments I've failed to check off, rather than the things I have done. The latter seem truly trivial; the former, staggering. I know it's a lost cause, a pointless mental quagmire, but I can't help it. I don't even feel like I've accomplished many of my personal life goals, but then those always seem to change in the face of reality.
Here's the thing, though: I don't think I truly regret anything I spent my time on, getting to this point. Sure, there are a few minor "whoops, shouldn't have done thats," but it seemed right to spend a year at art school, just as it seemed right to decide that I should work for a while afterward before deciding whether to return.
Yet I still have mixed feelings about where I am now. And I don't feel like I should be having mixed feelings. Which is the other thing I'm noticing about my thirties: I'm still too young to even take myself seriously, evidently, but I'm too old to be cool, too old to be a prodigy or a young overachiever, and too old to pretend I can go back to change anything.
One thing I can change, though, is my woefully imperfect novel manuscript, which I swear I am now about to continue doing.