“If you asked me what I came into this world to do, I will tell you: I came to live out loud.”
Tomorrow is my 30th birthday.
It’s kind of a big deal, turning 30, at least to me. It’s a whole new decade, the leaving-behind of my 20’s. As Jeff Greenwald says in his book The Size of the World (thanks Kristin) “Whenever a 0 passes in my life, I get an irresistible urge to jump through it.”
Some people spend their 20’s studying, or roaming around the planet, or settling down and raising a family. Many people spend their 20’s dabbling, testing the waters, trying to identify whatever it is that makes them authentically who they are. I spent my 20’s working. When I eventually landed a job with the title I had hoped for, I stopped to ask myself what in the heck I was doing. I’d been operating under the assumption that having a successful career and a big paycheck would calm the fire inside of me, that insatiable hunger for something more. But when I stopped to think about it, I realized that it never would.
I don’t remember what I did on the day, ten years ago, when I turned 20. I was living at my parent’s house for the summer, I’d just finished my second year of college. I do remember thinking that in the next 10 years I would probably be married and have children. I didn’t particularly want those things, but that’s just the natural progression of life where I’m from. I didn’t think to question the status quo because I didn’t know anyone else who ever had.
Here I am, 10 years later, and life did not turn out at all like my 20 year-old self had expected. Life has, in fact, ended up much bigger and scarier and brighter and fuller and sadder and exciting than I could have dreamed. At the age of 20 I really thought I was close to figuring it all out. At 30, the world is more confusing than it ever was, but the core of who I am comes more crisply into focus every day. Now, when my inner voice speaks, I listen.
If everything goes according to plan, the age of 30 will find me jobless, homeless and possessionless. It’s certainly not the vision I had of my life at the age of 20, but I know that if I could go back and tell my 20-year-old self what she was about to do, she would cheer. She would be proud of herself. She would have thought that she was totally bad-ass.
To celebrate my 30th birthday I wanted to run the entire 30-mile Wildwood Trail. The Wildwood Trail runs the length of Portland’s Forest Park, the largest forested, urban park in the country and a place I frequently refer to as “church.” My idea was to spend each mile of the run reflecting on each year of life that I had lived.
I completed the run this weekend with two of my sister-friends (how lucky to find people in life that come alive in the same way that you do). We ran the entire trail in 6.5 hours and it was beautiful and painful and thrilling.
Unlike my plan, though, I didn’t spend a second of that run reflecting on any of my years so far. Instead, I talked with my girlfriends about the future. We talked about weddings and travel and love, about what we hoped for and what scared us, about nieces and siblings and the people we care for.
It was, I realized afterwards, the perfect way to welcome in a new decade. Because what I hope for myself most of all is to always be able to talk excitedly about my life. I hope to stay hungry, to fight hard, to never give up on the things that matter to me, and to always look forward to what’s around the corner.
My friends and I during our 30-mile run on the Wildwood Trail
Rawr! (An ode to my inner Leo)