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Happy Birthday, Me (On My 30’s)

{Me turning two. Note the bow on my head.}

I’m turning 31 today. Which is, of course, a nice way of saying that I’ll be stepping away from my computer in a few hours to go celebrate.

I keep thinking, however, how much change a year can bring. Last year, the idea that I was turning 30 lit a fire under me. I was in a really difficult place—working as a secretary—something I was wildly overqualified to do, and never expected to be doing at 30. And I just wanted things to change. I re-launched APW just over a year ago, as a secret 30th birthday present for myself. Ariel helped with the (unknowing) 30th birthday presents, by asking me to write a sidebar in the second edition of the Offbeat Bride book, and I hosted Ariel’s OBB reading in San Francisco on my birthday weekend. And then, on the afternoon of my 30th birthday, I did a final edit of the rough draft of my book proposal, and turned it into my agent.

Fast forward a year. On my 31st birthday, APW is my full time job. When we re-launched the site, there had been 15,000 comments in the first two years of the blog. That means, by now,  there should have been around 22,000 comments. But as of this writing, there have been 48,500 comments on APW. Holy crap you guys, that’s a lot of talking we’ve been doing, during my 30th year. That’s a lot of me being grateful to how smart and funny and amazingly supportive you guys are, of each other, and of me.

Last year, I handed my agent a proposal for the first time. This year, I’m tearing my way towards the first half of my book being due, two weeks from today. This year, I’m getting to pay it forward, and ask other readers and bloggers to contribute bits of their writing, to be sidebars in my book.

It’s been quite a year.

Last year I wrote this, about turning 30 (read this post if you haven’t by the way, it’s worth it):

The realization I’ve come to over the last few weeks, is that I really, truly, lived the f*ck out of my 20’s. I may not have emerged with a totally cohesive career (though I’m getting there)… but I did emerge with almost no regrets. Other than a handful of months when I was still almost 19, I dated only pretty nice people. I did almost everything that I wanted to do, no matter how scary or unsuccessful it was. I did not consume large amounts of toxic anything. I did the starving artist gig. I spent a lot of time discovering what I actually wanted out of life. I moved cross country. I got married.

But I’m trying to figure out what it looks like to live the f*ck out of my 30s. Living the f*ck out of my 20’s was easy – poor, New York, amazing friends, many late nights, rambling old house in Brooklyn, plenty to drink. And my 20’s were a break from societal pressures. I had my prestigious degree, I’d earned my scholarships, I’d made the grades, and everyone left me alone to figure the rest of it out. But living the f*ck out of my 30s is different. It doesn’t involve, say, a string of endless late nights at a bar, and trying a million new things. Living the f*ck out of my 30’s looks calmer, but maybe just as gutsy. It means standing up to the new and huge social pressures – time to grow up, give up what you built, move out of the city, get it together (exactly like everyone else). So part of claiming my 30’s will, I think, be continuing to claim my 20’s. I figured myself out pretty well in my 20’s. I figured out what made me happy, and that I was brave enough and focused enough to shoot for it. So there is no way I’m giving that up now.

And that is, I think, exactly what I’ve been doing over the last year. This weekend in New Orleans we ended the Mom 2.0 conference (more on that to come), sitting around the sunny, humid courtyard of the Ritz Carlton, drinking Strawberry Abita’s, eating crawfish, and continuing our bloggy-girlfriend tradition of telling your life story in 5 minutes or less. The last time I’d played this game was in September, and this time, I felt like my story made more sense. As I looked up from telling my story, I saw the girls cheering me on, for majoring in Experimental Theatre, for figuring out how to turn all that composition training into writing (even being dyslexic), and for turning writing into my business.

And it made me glad to be in my 30’s. Owning it.

{Me in NOLA this weekend, almost turning 31}

Happy Birthday, me. I’ll see you tomorrow, hung over.

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