published Friday, April 1st, 2011

Leber: Thirty ... something or the other

Tuesday was my birthday.

I’m not sure when I started feeling a little let down each year on March 29, but somewhere along the line I did. I know it has a lot more to do with not feeling like I’m where I’m “supposed to be” in life than it does with not having anyone offer to throw me a party.

So here I am, newly 31, which really does feel older than 30, and a whole lot older than “in my 20s,” and I don’t have any of the things I thought I’d have by now — a husband, a child, a mortgage, enough money in the bank to send my parents on a trip for their upcoming 35th anniversary — and once again, I’m learning to accept that it’s OK. The only one who is focusing on any sort of a timeline is me (and possibly my mother, if she wants grandchildren).

A 2010 New York Times article, titled “What is it about 20-somethings?” made reference to “emerging adulthood” and “the age 30 deadline,” an idea that certain things in life have to happen by the time you’re 30. Otherwise ... what?

What’s that expression? Life is what happens when you’re busy making plans? I had plans. I was going to be married at 25. I would have Baby No. 1 at 28. By 30, I’d own a house. Right now, I should be pregnant with Baby No. 2 and writing for national publications.

Like I said, I had plans.

But life happened. Happens. Is happening. And not exactly according to my plan. I don’t feel like an emerging adult. I’m certainly not done growing — none of us are, otherwise what’s the purpose of living past 30 — but I’m grown up. My adulthood became official when I had the frightening epiphanies that a) I don’t know everything; b) my life does not necessarily revolve around me or what I want; and c) I can’t dictate how my life is going to go.

But every year, before I can move forward into a new age, I have a few days of regression in which I have to remind myself of these things, especially the last one.

I’m not alone. I have friends who try to do the same thing, oftentimes with relationships. You know — “I’m not going to get seriously involved with anyone until I’ve made my first million.” “He’ll be successful, but only as successful as I am, not more so.” Or, “I’m going to be married by 30, come hell or high water.”

It doesn’t really work that way. Sometimes I wish it did. But for all the Plans and Ideas that haven’t come to fruition, things are going well. I have a good job, my health, friends, family, somebody to love, and... OK, the money could be better, but no reasonable person gets into journalism to strike it rich. I’m not where I thought I would be, but I’m all right.

Thirty-one, eh? I can do this. But if I’m approaching 35 and... OK, yeah, I’ll stop now.

Contact Holly Leber at or 423-757-6391. Follow her on Twitter at Fan her on Facebook at

about Holly Leber ...

Holly Leber is a reporter and columnist for the Life section. She has worked at the Times Free Press since March 2008. Holly covers “everything but the kitchen sink" when it comes to features: the arts, young adults, classical music, art, fitness, home, gardening and food. She writes the popular and sometimes-controversial column Love and Other Indoor Sports. Holly calls both New York City and Saratoga Springs, NY home. She earned a bachelor of arts ...

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