An inconvenient 30


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It’s my 30th birthday tomorrow, which in some ways is quite unfortunate. I’d really hoped to have my shit together much more when entering this new decade. Early last year, I had things in my mind laid out that I needed to achieve, a loose plan (yet I never muttered it aloud to many people, keeping up my facade of complete indecisiveness). I was even considering adult steps like getting a mortgage of my own instead of paying off my landlord’s. Then as I got more tired and then sick, everything went kaboom.

Now I’m turning 30 feeling quite directionless, unsure if my previous plans are feasible or smart anymore, feeling like I’m in a big waiting room, or flying in a holding pattern. It’s not even a holding pattern where you can just distract yourself with other things, like going on inevitably terrible dates or drinking or buying clothes you don’t need or ambling around Southeast Asia pondering the meaning of life or just exercising and exercising. It’s a grinding, broke, energy-less holding pattern where so many things seem to be going backwards that you’re just hugely thankful for the ones that are standing still.

So I guess I wish I could put off this milestone until I had my act together again, but unfortunately aging doesn’t work that way.

I haven’t been feeling very well for the last week or so (a period of ‘noticeably worse than my baseline level of crap, but still able to get up and go to work’). I was also feeling kinda gloomy. I don’t think the change in weather is helping the whole fatigue situation, as all my aches and pains have intensified, adding to the general ‘living an old person’s life before my time’ atmosphere.

As a distraction, and because I can’t do anything more productive, I’ve been rewatching the early seasons of Mad Men, one of my favourite shows. It is finishing up in the US and the final episodes have so many throwbacks to themes from earlier episodes that I had to stretch my memory to recall, so I decided to start from the beginning.

Peggy is my favourite character, and Peggy and Don’s somewhat unlikely friendship is also one of my favourite parts of the plot (I’m not one of those weird people who wants them to get together though). Also Sally Draper’s plot!

Anyway, I’ll try not to do spoilers, but in Season 7 Part 1 there is this brilliant scene where Peggy tells Don she just turned 30 and I just loved it (terrible quality video below). It seems like angsting about what you have or don’t have, or have done or haven’t done, is basically a hallmark of all adult birthdays, and the big ones pull the biggest triggers… and it probably only gets worse.

There’s also a brilliant scene in Season 2 (in a brilliant episode), where there is a flashback to Don coming to see Peggy when she is in a psych ward after her surprise baby delivery (ok, I guess those are spoilers, but if you haven’t watched Season 1, you are way behind). I can’t find a video. Don, with his beautiful yet troubled face, leans in and whispers to the heavily medicated Peggy: “Peggy, listen to me, get out of here and move forward. This never happened. It will shock you how much it never happened.

Even though doctors keep telling me this isn’t going to go anywhere for a long time, using plurals like “years” to describe any recovery period, I really hope that my current situation is like this. One that, soon enough, will be forgotten. Where I’ll only remember the good parts, like the people who helped and who were kind. Where I’ll be too busy making plans, and perhaps even acting on them, to remember the unpleasant details, and where I’ll be going forward instead of standing still.

2 Responses to " An inconvenient 30 "

  1. HI Ashleigh Happy Birthday. Always remember that you have already got many achievements, done many good things and contribution much to the world. I really hope that this time next year all of this is behind you,
    All the best Wendy

  2. Daryl Betteridge. says:

    I have every faith that you will overcome this illness and continue to have an awesome life. This current situation is but a pause button on the magical thing called life. We that is you and I ,have an appetite to enjoy life that can only temporarily be quelled, when I hit the occasional speed bump in my life I take a moment to reflect on all the great things that I have done and with steely resolve push on until the wheel turns in my favour. Stay strong and love life as life loves you. From a proud and loving father Daryl.