Something about 29 feels weightier than any of the numbers before it. I know, I know. You can laugh. I know as much as the next person that 29 is still specifically young.
I can’t be certain why, but it seems like 29 is looking at 30 with lips shut firm, sort of in a hopeful stare-down. It’s a little solemn, but also a little, “You go, girl.” Whereas 28 just looks at 29 like, “huh, there you are. You look responsible. I’ll let you handle it. Peace!” and also: “Look at you, almost 30!”
I’ve been characterizing numbers since I could count, so this numbers having feelings thing isn’t really that far off from eight year old Erika. In case you were wondering: 5 was an easy going number; I can’t remember who 7 got along with; and when I found out the magic of 9’s… just, yup. That’s some delightful magic.
But I digress.
So 28 looks at 29 and says, “peace!”, but 29 looks back at 28 and says, “oh, I see it, too.”
I’m feeling a little reflective, because 29 is a place to think about an end a decade, but also the beginning of a new one. At this point, new decades still seem far enough apart to feel notable. I’d describe this one as a long time that went unreasonably fast. Even though I have one year left in my 20’s, I feel like I’m in some subset between 20’s and 30’s that is not a number, just a between zone for the already adult and established in a life, but still technically young.
Probably a lot of you feel that way too, actually, for many different reasons. Caught in an odd between-zone.
For me it happened after college when we all leapt into different life stages. In case you missed it: I married, graduated college, and then became a stay at home mom, which is a privilege, but also confusing. I have a few kids or a husband or a house more than many of my old friends and few less years experience being paid for professional work.
And that split between how old I am and how old I feel started to happen again when life kicked in and kicked us hard, but here we are still, older and wiser and we made it. And we’re making it.
Sometimes I feel like I might have to convince people I’m only my age and not older, but that doesn’t really ever happen. I often simultaneously assume I’m younger, but feel older than people I meet. Years wear harder on the inside sometimes. I might feel older than I am, but I don’t look older. I can finally stop fighting for credit of the years.
Strangers have stopped asking me how old I am. I’ll take it.
We all have years of invisible marks that tell our own unique stories regardless of our age. We’re all in this together more than we actually know. Layers of feeling like we fit and like we don’t or shouldn’t have to.
But that gets me to my point, maybe.
Age shouldn’t matter so much in how we regard the people around us.
Let’s not write off the actions of our people with explanations like “toddlers!” “terrible twos” “boys are so wild” “girls are hard” “she’s a tomboy” “teenagers” “millennials” or any like term thereafter that I have yet to become very sensitive to, because I’m not there yet. These stereotypes made up of the some quantities of everyone represented in the group stirred together, simmered, and steeped until the worst or most average comes to the surface, while the best is just a glimmer in each person’s eye Waiting to be seen, someday.
Let’s give each other the wholeness and gift of making room for their full stories. Ask the good questions or just wait while they tell us who they are. Actions, reactions, emotions, or motions are never simply a problem or product of age. We can’t know what people have been through or what has been required of them, but we can give people the gift of knowing we don’t know their stories.
We all learn things at different times and we are constantly in flux. Our stories are bending, crashing, creaking, peering, wishing, hoping, cracking, loving, fearing, soothing, healing, hurting, sharing, shaping, having, losing, living.
People full of stories that never quite make enough sense. Let’s let them not quite make sense.
But this is what I feel on the day before I am turning 29. The year before turning 30.
An age that feels older, but not quite as old as I’d expect.
My 20’s have brought layers of muchness and unknowing, and a fierceness in my soul.
Here’s to one more in my 20’s.
Day 16/100 #the100dayproject