Today is my thirtieth birthday. My body hasn’t fallen apart, my hair hasn’t turned gray, and physically I feel exactly the same today as I did yesterday when I was a strapping young twenty-nine year old. But I do feel older. I really didn’t think that turning thirty would mean this much to me.
Back when I was twenty-two, I heard the statement “Thirty is the new eighteen”. At the time I was living with my parents, had no clue what I wanted to do with my life, and generally felt young and imature. So I fully agreed with the idea of adulthood not beginning until the age of thirty. Twenty somethings tend to be a fairly imature lot, and in today’s society as people often live into their nineties adolecents does extend well into the twenties.
I do think of myself as an adult, and appreciate the idea of entering adulthood now that I am entering my thirties. I have multiple degrees, an engineering career, a loving husband, and a completed novel. The only things missing from my life are an agent, a publisher, 2.5 kids, and a dog. I’m allegic to dogs, but fully expect the other items to appear in my life sometime in the next decade.
I tend to be on the young side among my friends. Having my birthday in August ment that I was always one of the youngest kids in my class at school. Once I got out of school and entered the working world, I was again younger than most of the people living in the land of adulthood. I have made a few younger friends over the past few years, but the majority of my current friends are between five and ten years older than me. This means that I was just meeting my husband at the time that all my other friends were getting married. I managed to go this entire summer without attending a single wedding. Instead I’ve come to the age where I’m constantly running off to baby showers.
So why should I be freaking out about turning thirty? I’m an adult. I’ve been an adult for a good three or four years now. I should be able to handle being a thirty-something instead of a twenty-something. The problem is that I’m still imature. I tend to think like a teenager. When I first attempted to write fiction, I was a teenager and logically wrote YA. When I started writing slightly more seriously in my early twenties I still wrote YA, because I really didn’t have any adult experiences to pull from yet. As I entered adulthood, I fully expected that I would start writing stuff for adults. I’ve had lots of ideas for adult books, but I haven’t written any of them because they just feel hard.
But while 28 and 29, I was able to write what I believe is a good YA novel with absolutely no difficulty. Thinking like a teenager is both fun and easy for me. Talking like a teenager feels natural, and writing from a teenager’s point of view is equally comfortable. Now that I’m turning thirty I feel a bit more like a poser. I’m spending all my time living in the heads of my sixteen year old imaginary friends – and now I’m almost twice their age. Where is this Peter Pan syndrome coming from? Why am I so reluctant to grow up?
I’m trying not to let it bother me. I really like writing YA, and have given up on thinking my writing is going to grow up with my body. Most of the time, I am very adult and can handle being a thirty year old. If in my mind, I’m forever sixteen. I know I can’t always be young, but who says I can’t always be imature.