I’m Easily Distant…Even Now

Now that I’m thirty, I feel more comfortable with myself than I’ve ever felt in the past.

I’m eerily familiar with that weird vocal quirk in my voice I’ve had since third grade that people occasionally remind me I still have.

I know exactly what I should eat for breakfast in the morning to keep me going for at least 3 hours and not make me groggy (right now it’s bananas and peanuts butter, and/or a green smoothie plus coffee. It used to be oatmeal). Boring, but necessary for me to know.

Vegetarianism is part of my soul. I can’t imagine eating meat ever again. For now, anyway.

I’ve gone almost platinum blonde kinda by accident since the summer (I suddenly decided to dye my hair myself for the first time, and after much trial error and purple hair it just kinda happened). And I love it. Right now, anyway 😉

When I feel good, I feel really, really good. Overall my life seems to get better and better as I get older- I’ve always felt that way. I’m very much still working at feeling my best more often (I know it’s all waves), and tracking down major life goals that can help me move forward. I really want to master the subtle art of Not Giving A Fuck about unimportant things, which we’ve talked about a lot on this blog….more than once.  However, one of the things I’m really always working on, especially now that I know myself better, is being able to tell others what I need and want…after figuring out what I need and want.

It’s very easy for me to let friends, family, and significant others take the lead and pull me down their path without much resistance from me. I’m very good at going with the flow (something I really know about myself)- and that combined with a dislike of confrontation, an intense empathy for other people’s feelings, and a deep curiosity for other people’s habits and points of view can occasionally leave me feeling swept up in lives that are not my own. I can let others sweep me so far into their lives that I don’t even realize how distant I suddenly feel from myself.

I don’t know if that makes sense exactly or if it feels familiar to any of you. Or if you’ve outgrown this now that you’re in your thirties. But sometimes I’m the polar opposite of the ideal cool and collected thirty-something who doesn’t give a fuck. I used to give so many fucks about what other people thought that my life became a guessing game and I thought I was the ultimate winner of knowing what people wanted. All I cared about was making my favorite people happy and figuring out how to play their game correctly.

I doing so, I would sometimes lose what exactly I wanted and who I wanted to be. With my best friends, this didn’t really happen. But with acquaintances and romantic relationships, I would become distant from myself which would also lead to a certain distance from others. I couldn’t honestly communicate who I was and what I wanted because I myself wasn’t aware of what exactly I wanted. And once I figured it out, it felt scary to tell.

Sometimes that distance returns, even in my thirties. I find myself getting swept up in other people’s lives and dispositions once again, and I lose what I want and start to forget who I am. If I don’t stay in touch with myself by meditating, re-centering, talking to good friends, and expressing what I need, this old habit from the past seems to return.

It’s interesting that even though we can come so far by the time we’re in our thirties, those old traits from our younger days can still seem to be lurking around the corner, waiting for a time to reappear and scare the crap out of us. For now, anyway.

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Best Things About Being In Your 30s- The Lists

Ah, the ubiquity of Buzzfeed lists…love ’em or hate ’em, they’re all over Facebook and Twitter, and links to them seem to pop up everywhere. But are Buzzfeed lists (or lists along those lines) just click bait, or can they actually tell us something about our lives?

Jane and I are always looking for lists of descriptive thirties traits, findings and meanings- anything thirties related really- and when we do searches for the thirties, invariably there’s a Buzzfeed list or two right on Google’s front page. So today I read through a Buzzfeed article titled “27 Underrated Things About Being In Your Thirties.”

As I read through a list of statements and memes capturing those statements, I started to feel more and more confused and anxious..mainly because everything seemed so perfectly tied with a big red bow, and my life didn’t seem to be where it should be compared to the list. My god, it’s Buzzfeed! BUZZFEED! Buzzfeed shouldn’t make you upset!  But yet, dammit, it did.

And it wasn’t just me! The comments below were achingly funny and painful..starting with someone saying, “This made me feel a whole lot worse about my life.” Which was followed up by 186 likes and a whole lot of agreement, including “You are not alone, friend. I’m really depressed now about everything every other 30-something is having/doing that I’m not” and “I’m 40, and most of this just made me want to crawl into a hole and die.”

So below are some of the statements that stuck out at me. Try not to want to crawl into a hole and die. You’re not alone, friend 🙂

3. Chances are that you’re making more money now.

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I’m making more money now, yes, but I know a lot of people who aren’t, and this statement still made me nail-bitingly nervous.

4. Which means you can afford actual furniture that’s not from Ikea.

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What? ALL my furniture is from Ikea! Ikea is AWESOME! (Ok, IKEA isn’t awesome, but it is frigging CHEAP!) And what is that Soho loft pictured above with the vintage-chic walls and exposed brick? I mean, come on now!

8. You give zero fucks, so you dance however you want!

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Umm…not yet at that ZERO fucks stage…maybe LESS fucks? And me dancing however I want wouldn’t be good for anyone..

10. At work, you’re not some assistant bitch anymore, you’re a BOSS.

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Though I know people who’ve climbed the career ladder and match this description..I also know lots of people who are assistants, or who still aren’t sure about their career yet.. I am not necessarily a BOSS, though I am self-employed, so maybe this fits me more than I believe..I can play around with it..

12. Any dating you do is less messy, because you know what you want and you demand it.

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Umm, no?

13. And you wind up in much healthier relationships.

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Hmm…this one just feels presumptuous. Also, this is such a random photo! You think it’s the author? Are these people two random celebrities I don’t recognize?

17. You’ve found a group of friends who are the most amazing people you’ve ever met.

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Also a random photo. And I think the author got this idea from a Sex and the City binge…in fact, this photo should’ve been Samantha and Charlotte and Carrie and Miranda. The thirties are where I hear the most gripes about LACK of friendship. People are all like ‘where have my friends gone??’ Umm, babies, marriage, moving, high-stress jobs, people giving ZERO fucks…these things steal friends…

24. You’re no longer afraid of change…

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Damn it, change is STILL the the boogeyman in the closet for me! The people who aren’t scared of change don’t know the horrors of when it jumps out and grabs you! It’s so big and bad and mean sometimes…

I’m only sort of kidding here… but change still = mucho scary.

But all jokes aside, when it comes to figuring out what the thirties are to you, I want to just say: Beware of Buzzfeed lists! And stereotypes! And bragging disguised as positivity! And funny memes that are actually bragging disguised as positivity hidden in sadness wrapped in stereotype! (As fun as they may sometimes be.)

How To Be a Third Wheel

The other day I went to a Barbecue in upstate New York. It was hosted by a close friend of mine and her boyfriend. When I got there, my friend said to me apologetically, “you’re going to meet a lot of people you don’t know.” What she didn’t mention was “you’re going to meet a lot of people you don’t know…and all of their significant others who you also don’t know.”

Once I went inside, I figured out that everyone at the BBQ was either married or engaged. And I felt very, very single. And very much like a third wheel.

This made me want to hide.

This made me want to hide away. At home. Somewhere inside my hoodie.

I didn’t realize that married and engaged couples would become the majority once I turned thirty. When I was in my twenties and would go to parties, I seem to remember a fair mix of singles and couples present. I also remember lots of alcohol being thrown down, and lots of stumbling home at 3am…or later. Was it a different world back then? After the BBQ this month, I caught the Metronorth back to Queens at the wee hour of 7pm (!)…with a nice newlywed couple who held hands as they told me the story of how they met.

To be fair, I was half of a couple for just about the entirety of my twenties…a serial monogamist from 21 to 29. And I basically saw the world of my twenties through ‘couple-eyes’ (yes, this is a thing)…which for me then meant: half of a couple = the definition of who I am.

So I didn’t totally get the whole third wheel stigma thing.

When I was part of a couple, I actually loved hanging out with single friends. I mean, it was fun to double date, but when I had a single friend hang out with me and my boyfriend at the time, I loved it just as much. All I wanted was for my friend to feel welcome and comfortable, single or not. A third wheel has this strange solo definition- they’re an extra piece- suddenly we have… a tricycle? A whole new entity. But that entity doesn’t have to be bad. I never thought it was bad before.

Of course, I very much understand the third wheel stigma- ‘couple-alone-time’ is important (as much as regular alone-time)- and a third person tagging along uninvited to a date night walk along the beach would probably not be the best. But the key word here is ‘uninvited.’ When you’re a third person invited along with a couple, you’re not a tag-along, you’re a guest. You’re a friend.

But when I first became single again, a few months ago, I didn’t feel like a guest. No matter how much a couple tried to make me feel included, I felt like I was invading their space and time. I felt like a lonely half who needed another. A missing piece. An extra part.

It took me awhile to remember how much I enjoyed hanging with single people when I was half of a couple…how much I wanted them to NOT feel like third wheels. It took me awhile to remember that they weren’t third wheels to me then…I saw them as full people- totally complete on their own. It’s weird how hard it is to see yourself the way you see others. Why would a couple be better than a single? What does that even mean?

I didn’t end up having a bad time at the barbecue. I’ll admit, I felt sad at first…wistful for coupledom. But then I started to have fun, once I settled in. I began to ask questions. I talked to my friend…and her boyfriend. I relaxed and ate barbecue. And I started to let go of looking at myself as an extra. I listened to stories… how couples met, where they lived, what they did. I enjoyed my ride home on the Metronorth with the newlyweds, who had a great first-meeting story and were both super nice. And I stopped feeling like a third wheel. And I stopped feeling alone. I didn’t feel like half a couple. I just felt like me.

 

 

The Difficult Simplicity of You Celebrating You

Have you ever wanted to become somebody else?

Perhaps you’re at a party and a friend starts telling hilarious jokes or pulls out her best French accent. You suddenly wish you knew more jokes or had a fun accent ready to go as well.

Then you’re scrolling through Facebook and you see an acquaintance with a perfect bikini body who always seems to be drinking Mai Tais in Cancun. And/or you’re slammed with post after post of perfect engagements or amazing job titles. You wonder why you’re single and pasty white from lack of beach time fun..and also, how come you never tried to become an opera singer? Why didn’t you have the idea 10 years ago to begin computer programming or get an MBA?

Jane recently wrote about five things you should leave behind in your twenties. “Go where you are celebrated, not tolerated” slammed me in the face as the hardest lesson I’ve grappled with this year. It’s a difficult lesson when you’re constantly unsure how to celebrate yourself…because you’re not exactly sure who it is you’re celebrating.

I’m an extremely curious person and I’ve spent a lot of life wanting to be everyone at the same time. I’m in a state of constant wonderment about other lifestyles, other careers, and other ways of living. I make decisions about who I am slowly and carefully…and as I’m trying to pick a lifestyle from an endless array of choices, I ignore the lifestyle I’m already living. The hardest person for me to see has always been myself.

As I’ve realized this in my absolute latest twenties, life has gotten slightly easier. Maybe I don’t have to be the person who has tons of jokes up her sleeve or can command a room with a party quirk…maybe I can keep my natural ways of being a great listener and observer instead. That’s more the person I organically am.

And when I turn away from Facebook for awhile, and alternatively enjoy a morning mediation, I even feel comfortable alone with myself in the moment, far away from the stress of who I might become.

Perhaps, like me, you’ve had trouble knowing how to celebrate yourself. A major key is to find the difference between two desires: the desire to better who you are and the desire to become a different person. One desire is healthy and will push you forward (even though it may feel scary and difficult at times), but the other desire will scatter your energy and throw you out of balance …because it isn’t you.

Bettering yourself can mean anything from embracing your natural tendency towards unique clothing choices to signing up for a half marathon because you love running to letting yourself feel confident while remaining silent. Don’t beat yourself up because you’re not naturally sarcastic, or naturally size 0, or a naturally a great software developer.

Yes, of course you can change, but it’s easiest to change into the best version of the self that comes naturally, easily, when no one is looking.

Celebrate that person, no matter where and who you are right now.

 

 

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