Turning Thirty Without My Dad

It's strange to think the last birthday I celebrated with my father was my 26th. In four days, I'm about to be 30. In that time span, I've experienced immeasurable loss, and triumphal gains. I've published books, had challenging experiences in the workforce, met some amazing people (and not-so-amazing people.) I've lost friends, and I've gained new ones.

I'm not really sure what about turning the age of "30" scares me so much - but it does. I know that I'll still be the same person that I was the night before. I'll still be the same person the day after. I'll still open my eyes the same way, get dressed, take a shower, eat, drive to work - It'll all be the same. But at the same time, everything will be different.

I won't be in the comfortable "I'll-always-be-young" 20-mindset.

Since my father's death, the world has become a narrower place. The forests aren't as big as I remembered them to be. The rivers - not as deep. And yet, in that new dull, grey color pallet, the world is emptier - larger, scarier. It's not the same as the safety of our back yard, where the grass was always so green, and dad was just within reach - grilling on the back porch, or working on something in his workshop.

I think that's what turning 30 means to me. It's scary. It's jumping farther into a time without the safety net of what used to be. With each passing year, I get farther and farther away from the time before - the time when he was alive. When life was simple. When colors were brighter.

I see so many of my classmates who I went to high school or college with turning 30 - buying houses, getting married, and having children. It seems shifting into that age is just natural for them. Like it's the perfect shoe size. Of course they'd be turning 30 - they have everything that a 30-year-old should. But for me - it feels like a disaster. I look back on what I've accomplished in the past ten years of my life, and it seems so far away from what the "norm" is - what the "norm" should be. Being 30 means being serious - having your life in order. Knowing what you want and working your hardest to achieve that. But I'm far from what I want. In all honesty - I've accepted that many of the things I've dreamed of my whole life, will always be that - dreams.

For now, my wants are simple: to be happy. To get through each passing day. To not feel alone. To accept my loneliness. To bring happiness to someone, for if I can't be happy myself, I'd rather have the people around me be happy - to laugh and smile.

Several people have already said to me, "Turning 30 isn't that bad." Or "It's just a number." Or "I turned 30 and it's not bad. You're worrying over nothing." The difference between me and them is that exactly. I'm me. They're themselves. They haven't had my life. And I haven't had theirs. To me, turning 30 is not hearing my Dad tease me about turning ancient-history-old. It's getting farther into the "oldness" and accepting that I'm going to fall into the category of being "forever alone." It's accepting that while you've always dreamed of being extraordinary - I'm not. I'm just ordinary. I'm not that "something special" or "different."

30 is my wake up call.

And I'm not really ready to swallow that pill yet.

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