I remember when I was my son’s age, 12, thinking that 30 was old. And when I reached the age of 20, I still thought 30 seemed a lifetime away and surely when I reached it, my life wouldn’t be the same. Well, I was right about that, though not in the ways I thought back then. I remember thinking that once you reached your 30’s that life would be more boring, that I couldn’t possibly enjoy my life like I did in those moments of my most cherished youth.
As my 20’s progressed, I began to see that life wasn’t turning out the way I once thought it would and so many things I thought I knew about life were proved wrong. I must say that my 20’s were definitely full of excitement. There were so many parties, adventures, random road trips, and explorations. There are many days I can’t quite remember though and while we would laugh about such things with one another, truth is, it was sad that there were hours of my life when I couldn’t recall what I had said or done. But, such was the life back then for me and many others I know, and many others around the world too for that matter.
While my party days of my 20’s could be a blast, it is quite accurate to say that it was not all fun and games. With that partying also came being sick, injuries, death to loved ones because of reckless behavior (drinking and driving – not because of me, but it very well could have been due to many stupid decisions I made.), near death experiences, drama, drama, and more drama, heartbreak, and so on. I have learned a lot of painful lessons and often times, the hard way.
My 20’s were full of a lot of irresponsibility, careless actions, unwise decisions, and rash behavior. Now, I am not going to say that I didn’t enjoy my 20’s at all, because I do have a lot of great memories, made some great friends, and still have inside jokes that many of us still laugh about to this day. And, I can’t say that I just screwed everything up and didn’t do the right things at times. I wasn’t an airhead, but sometimes I made people wonder. I look at some people in their 20’s now and think, “Was I really like that?” And the answer, dear readers, is yes and sometimes much worse.
I am now 36, approaching 37 at the end of this year. Looking back at my frivolous days of my 20’s and then looking at my life and who I am now, I can tell you there are some major differences. The me back then and the me now would have quite the conversation should they be able to speak to one another. When I was 26, I said I wanted to find someone special, settle down, finally establish myself on a good career path, do better for my son, and behave more responsibly. But what I said I wanted and how I often behaved didn’t match up. I still was so selfish a lot of the time, though I wouldn’t bring myself to admit that. I worked here and there, wasn’t there for my son like I should have been, stayed up too late most nights, partied too hard with my friends too often, chased after the wrong guys, and just made a mess of my life. You’d think by 26 that I’d start to get a handle on things and I was making progress, but not nearly enough.
It’s so weird, when I turned 30, it’s as if a light switch went off in my head. It didn’t happen overnight, but turning 30 was really a turning point in my life. It’s as if the mist surrounding my head began to lighten and the fog began to lift. I began to see just how badly I needed to change, how my priorities needed to shift. I started going out less, trying harder to better my life, and began truly growing up. Life started to be more about my son, family, and working hard.
When I was 26, I lived with my grandma, had my son very sparingly and never knew when I’d see him, worked a seasonal job at the ballpark, and worked here and there on the off-seasons, hung out with a lot of people I shouldn’t have, and did things I am not proud of. My younger days were even more chaotic. At 19-23, oh it was even more wild. At 23, I got pregnant with my son and during that time, I did pretty well. I didn’t drink, took care of my body, and tried to change. At nearly 24, my son was born and then it didn’t take long before fear I’d ruin my son’s life the way that my parents had ruined mine and selfish wants took over. I have always loved my son, but back then, it wasn’t enough to do what I should have. It was about me, but I said it was to protect him, to spare him of the life I had. To a point, I did believe I wasn’t any good for my son, but that was also because I was afraid to try, only to end up failing. I didn’t give my son every effort he deserved and for that, I’ll always feel horrible. I am getting better at forgiving myself, my son already has. I know too that I can’t make up for time lost, but I can be there for him now.
And that’s exactly what I’m doing. Fast forward to present day if you will. I now find myself working a stable job that I love that more than pays my bills and takes care of Zach’s needs when he’s with me, have a schedule with my son and am overjoyed at being a much bigger part of his life, am engaged to a wonderful man who loves us both that has always been there for us, am a member of a church that really helps me grow in my faith, and have surrounded myself with a good group of friends that I can trust and that I don’t let take me down dark paths. If anything, if I start to have problems, they’re right there guiding me back to the right path. Life is truly wonderful, the best it’s ever been. I am much happier in my 30’s than I was in my 20’s. I finally look in the mirror and see someone I am not ashamed to look at, someone I can really love and respect. If you asked me to go back to my 20’s, I wouldn’t. Truthfully, I feel the only way to go is forward. <3