I wanted to write something about turning thirty because it felt like a bit of a big deal, entering another decade, a milestone. I kept putting it off because it seemed a little self indulgent and also, is thirty actually a big deal? Now that I am thirty I don't feel any different, in fact, internally I still feel like I'm in my early twenties. I haven't got the responsibilities that many thirty-somethings do have, like a mortgage, a marriage or children, maybe that's why I still feel relatively young and carefree? Despite this I do feel like I am a little wiser than I was in my twenties and so even with my reservations I decided that I did want to write something down, if only to have a few words to look back on in years to come.
The feeling of being wiser boils down to three main things that I've learned and that have helped me find peace in my life, I'm sharing those three things here. They are personal so forgive me for exposing some of my deepest feelings, being open and honest takes courage.
Learning To Forgive
The following isn't news, I've touched upon it before, it has even informed my art work. In order to explain what I've learned I have to tell a bit of a story. My parents separated when I was seven, my dad left to live with another family. My brother and I continued to see our dad and we continued to live in the house with our mum that he paid the mortgage on even though he wasn't there anymore. Years later when my brother and I had reached adulthood he decided to sell the house so that he could forge a new life by buying a property of his own. I took it hard. When you feel like you're being pushed out of the home that you spent nearly 20 years in, where all of your childhood memories are, it hurts deeply. Upset turned to anger and I didn't speak to my dad for a long time. Even though there was rationality to what he was doing, I couldn't see it. I was annoyed that while he was using the house-sale to fund buying a beautiful home in an idyllic part of England, my mum, brother and I had to move from a village into a small house in an estate location in town. It felt unfair, like we were going backwards. My resentment was painful, it ate me up. I hated not being able to talk to my dad but at the same time I couldn't forgive what he was doing, all those heavy feelings from childhood came flooding back and the only way I could deal with it was to ignore him, to stay silent when he was there, to avoid him altogether.
We moved into our new house and some months later dad came round to say goodbye as he was moving to a new home in a county over four hours drive away. As he turned to walk out the door my emotions got the better of me, tears welled up and I couldn't take it anymore. The bitterness that I'd lived with for years was too much to bear, I decided there and then to forgive him and to work at having a father/daughter relationship again. It wasn't easy and there are still times when I think about how different our lives could have been if we'd stayed together as a family but I try not to let those thoughts interfere with reality. Broken families are so normal that it's heartbreaking and my story is similar to so many. When feelings are hurt and lives are changed it can be easier to block out the emotions and ignore the problem but in my case it made me too sad. Life is too short to hold on to grudges and I feel much better having a relationship with my dad. In my case learning to forgive has been freeing.
My Own Path
Deciding to be an artist, to travel and to do things my own way has not been easy. When I was younger I thought I would do certain things by a certain age; mortgage by 28, child by 30. I didn't anticipate that I'd take a year out to study a Fine Art MA or that travel would make my heart sing so much that I'd go on two long backpacking trips. Mortgages and children take sacrifices and I was too busy enjoying the freedom of not having those things. But living life this way did make me question myself, no one else in my family had done this. Was I doing life the wrong way round? It seemed like adult life should follow a set route; marriage, a mortgage, then children, then once the mortgage was paid and the children had grown you could start enjoying yourself. But personally I was too impatient and worried that I wouldn't make it to retirement age, a little morbid but that's just how my brain works. What if I spent my life working and paying bills only to keel over before I got to see the world and enjoy pottering around? I had worried that I was being left behind in the life stakes, with friends and peers owning homes, having good careers and making family plans before me. But I came to the realisation that I wasn't doing anything wrong, neither were those living life the opposite way to me. With time I realised that we're all doing what we think is best for us, we all want different things out of life and we all have our own ideas about what makes a good life too. I'm moving into my thirties feeling happy and content with what I have achieved so far and excited for what's to come.
Shyness, introversion and being overly sensitive. All me, and all things that I've found painful growing up. Being an INFJ personality type who is also shy and a bit socially awkward is something that I've beat myself up over in the past. I've told myself to try and be more outgoing, to go and start a conversation with that person, to 'get out of my shell'. But I like my shell, I like my own company and quiet moments to think and daydream. Rather than try and change my whole personality I decided to embrace it. Reading up on what introversion means and finding similar souls on social media has definitely helped. I will always be that shy freckled girl, hiding away at a party, letting everyone else talk. I will always be the listener, the quiet thinker who doesn't always feel comfortable in groups of three or more. That's alright, if you're happy with yourself even if you are a little different then brilliant, don't try and change.