As I’ve said every other year, I’m not where I thought I’d be at this point in my life. My thirties have not been what I expected and I think that’s because for so long, I had placed myself on this invisible timeline. It can be very challenging to see everyone around you moving through their lives at a much faster pace than you. It sometimes makes you feel like you’re behind and you often wonder — when will it be my turn?
Despite what I might not have yet, my thirties have still been very fulfilling and I’ve done things I never imagined I would. If life took me down a different path, I highly doubt I would have been able to travel solo as many times as I did. I’m not sure if I would have ever moved to NYC and lived on my own. I’m actually thankful that I’ve had a different trajectory than most of those around me. It’s my story and it’s not supposed to look like everyone else’s. But this doesn’t mean I haven’t struggled with it all because I have — many times.
I had high hopes for 38 and it ended up being my most challenging year of this past decade
To be super transparent, I’ve struggled a lot with my anxiety and mental health this past year. I won’t share every little detail of what’s happened but here’s a quick overview. My apartment has been on the market since February, which has stirred up a lot of uncertainty and anxiety. I’m still not sure what’s going to happen next or where I’ll end up, but I am definitely getting to a better place with all of it. I’m trying to be more accepting of wherever life decides to take me.
All of this has forced me to ask myself some hard questions. What’s keeping me here in New York? I don’t have the same support system that I did when I first moved. All of my close friends have left Manhattan. They’re all married now and most are moms. And the ones who aren’t married are in relationships. So that can be tough at times — not having a core group of friends in the city or single girlfriends to go out with. It’s felt extra lonely lately, if I’m being honest.
Am I genuinely happy living here or am I just used to the way it’s been? Am I too comfortable? Have I outgrown it? I’ve been split on this 50/50. I’ve had moments recently where I’ve felt such a strong urge to move out, sell all my furniture and go live somewhere in Europe for 2 months. I know there’s so much more out there for me to experience. Then there are days when I’m having such a wonderful time in the city and I’m reminded of why I love it here so much. It makes me want to do whatever I can to figure out a way to stay. I know that New York isn’t going anywhere though, so even if I do decide to leave or take a break away, I can always come back if that’s what’s meant for me.
I’ve honestly even had a few moments where I’ve wondered if maybe I should go back to my mom’s temporarily until I figure out my next steps. That’s something I never thought I would even consider at this point in my life, but I am trying so hard to be open to any possible outcome since I have no idea what the future holds.
As a quick interjection, we had a health scare with my mom back in September. It terrified me. I never shared the details out of respect for her privacy, but I will say that with medication and diet/lifestyle changes she’s been doing much better. She has a second follow up visit with her doctor in January and we will know more then. Thank you to everyone who has continued to check in on her!
I struggled for the better part of this year to find consistent work after being self-employed for ten years. It was extremely difficult for me to walk away from this idea I had that I would only work for myself. Life pushed me toward something else and it wasn’t easy to come to terms with that. But once I did, it ended up being the best thing for me. Sometimes we get a little too comfortable with where we are and don’t realize how change (although scary) can be exactly what we need.
In a lot of ways, I feel like I am starting over at 39
And that’s been something I’ve had to process and work through. I am entering the last year of my 30s and still have no idea what I’m doing. I might always be someone who’s trying to figure it all out and I think that’s ok. Life is not linear. It’s not supposed to be.
I recently came across this video on TikTok that I will share here because the message really resonated with me. It’s helped me to look at everything I’ve been going through with a different perspective. Here’s a quick recap of what is said,
“If you’re stuck, if you’re struggling, if you’re being dismantled, if you feel like your life is getting pulled out from underneath you, I say Congratulations. What a f*cking opportunity that is — You are being given an opportunity to look at yourself and reconstruct your life from the ground up. Not everyone gets that opportunity.”
I had to rebuild my life when I lost my father and simultaneously got laid off back in 2010. I had no idea how I would do it without him here, but somehow by the grace of God I created a life for myself that I never imagined I could have. And now in a lot of ways, I have to do that again. While plenty of self-doubt and false narratives creep in my thoughts, I truly do believe that I will be able to create something beautiful again. This right here, all of what I’ve been going through, is an opportunity to reconstruct everything.
This is easier said than done, but don’t allow society or any external factors to make you feel like you’re behind in life. Or to make you think that you needed to have certain things by a certain age. I can’t tell you how many messages I’ve received over the years from single women who feel this way. It is not too late for you. It is not too late for me. While challenging at times, I have learned to be ok with where I am. I know where I still want to go and I will get there, little by little. My dad always told me, “Slow and steady wins the race. Don’t rush through life.” I carry that with me every single day.
If I could offer up any little nuggets of advice, it would be this:
Don’t settle. Take your time. Step out of your comfort zone. Take risks, even if you fail. Especially if you fail. Every setback is a lesson that teaches us so much and only brings us closer to the things that are meant for us. Be brave. Do hard things. Do all the things. Don’t be afraid to experience life. You can reinvent yourself at any age. And remember — just because something hasn’t happened for you yet, it doesn’t mean that it won’t.
Does 39 scare me? A little bit, but it also excites me. I am walking into the last year of my thirties with short hair, a new energy and a little extra sass. Life is tough and it can be cruel at times, but I know by now that I will always find a way to pull through. My hope for 39 is to find a little more inner peace and clarity. I’m open to change. I’m open to love. And I will always welcome new beginnings. Cheers to this next trip around the sun!