I spent this past year celebrating the weird process of life that gradually spins into womanhood. I don’t quite know how, but somewhere between 29 and 30 – I found out who I am and who I want to become. It was a strange feeling to recognize growth (perhaps an even stranger event to explain now), but today feels like something worth celebrating.
A few years ago, I was creating who I was from what others thought I should be. I did this unrecognizably at first: slowly piecing myself together, one criticism at a time, until I realized I was becoming a collage of other people’s standards. I hated the fear and need for approval that brewed in my mind every time I voiced my opinions out loud or even posted a photo onto social media. I was in a weird purgatory. I knew who I was in my core, but I was trapped and shunted by the expectations I allowed others to place on me.
I went through a rebellious stage: rejecting religion, family and even, as lame as it sounds, pop music. Something in me thought if I made a 180° turn from my current state, the edgier side would somehow reveal a braver, stronger me. In my solo trip to France, I realized the recent rebellion was a different kind of fear and conformity. I was rejecting southern traits and femininity because I didn’t know how to carve my own place amongst them. Out of mere defiance (or maybe survival), I rejected the idea of becoming a mother, rejected the ideals of womanhood, and at times, I even rejected my role as a wife. I wanted so badly to be me, but I didn’t know who that was.
Today, I am thirty.
I no longer list my dreams as a question needing approval. I no longer wait for someone to select me out of a crowd and tell me it’s okay to be me. I know who I am, the good and the bad, and I celebrate the years that shaped me into this new, impenitent woman.
For me, thirty means I can be confident in my decisions, comfortable with who I am, and strong enough to live the life I want. Instead of fighting against the quirks and fears, I can embrace them. I can grow from them.