Suddenly, I realize my name will never grace a list of 30 whatevers under 30. Although, I have been aware of this unrelenting march towards oblivion, it seems that it has happened so abruptly that I have reached this mile marker of 29. As each day passes, we add a day to our life’s tally. The earth does not cease rotating, the hours do not stop passing, and whatever the biological mechanism that gives wrinkles, greys hairs, and brittles bones does what it does unceasing. Nevertheless, it was so suddenly that the cashiers stopped asking me for identification when I purchased a pack of cigarettes. It seemed so jarring to me the day I realized that Kurt Cobain had killed himself 18 years ago or that I had spent more years on this earth than any of the great musicians that I had loved as a little girl in the sixth grade.
Now here it is the eve of my 29th birthday. I have witnessed 28 summers, falls, springs, and winters. It still feels so odd that there are people on this earth who do not have a story for where they were when the Towers fell on September 11. Yet somehow, I cannot shake the feeling that it was not long ago that I graduated from high school with all those promises of the bright future to see, the big things to do, and that feeling that I would take over the world.
So, how did it come to this? How is it that the days are closing in upon me? I have nearly 365 days left to write that novel or make the big life choices that I had naively thought I would take care of well before I was even close to being 30. It is a crushing weight to know that so many people had such high hopes for me nearly 15 years ago, even I, myself, thought that by 30 I’d be out of medical school, with a fancy house and a glamorous life.
Here I am, embarking upon the last year of my twenties, facing the truth that I have done nothing, gone nowhere, and seen little, and yet I had so much time to do it in. I can easily list people that I admire that did more than I can imagine before they were 30. Earnest Hemingway wrote and published both The Sun Also Rises and A Farewell to Arms before he was 30. George Orwell had written and published much including Down and Out in Paris and London before he turned 30. Then there are the people whom I abhor Snooki, Justin Beiber, and Paris Hilton all of whom, have been able to outpace me in writing.
The sad thing is that I am not even sure if I will accomplish the things I want by the time I am 40. My main fear as I hit this last year of my 20’s is that if I don’t find some way to attempt to meet my goals, I’ll end up 50 years old with no discernible skills, a spotty CV, and still continuing to float through life.
I have changed the passion of my life so many times. At 15, I wanted to be a doctor. 18, a writer. 22, an accountant. 24, a writer again. 25, an editor. 26, a linguist and maybe a writer, or a teacher but mainly a linguist. Now as I approach 29, I have no clue. I am drawn to writing but also speech pathology and philosophy. In short, I have no clear idea what I want to do for the remainder of my days on earth.
However, part of my hesitation on being a writer is because I have never really gone anywhere. How can I write if I haven’t been outside of the northeastern United States other than a few trips to DC and Florida in 22 years and I don’t even know what stops me. I am a freelancer, so I am not tide down by a static career. I could go anywhere and do anything. However, sometimes in the night before I go to sleep, I fear that maybe I will never do anything.
My grandfather once told me that someone has to be the garbage man. So what if that is it, what if I cannot write and have not done the things I want to do because I am the person that has to be the lowly office clerk or maybe I’m the person that the universe has chosen to be a housewife and I’m just fighting it. Yet, more than that, if that is true, if when I die it turns out I never wrote a novel, never did anything that my heart yearned to do, what is the point. Why do I have such desire to do great things and yet in spite of everything I want, be unable to do any of those things at all?