I will start off this post on somewhat of a tangent. I try to include an image in every one of my posts; usually I will think of a word or concept and search within Google Images (it’s fun, try it!) For this one, I was searching “100th birthday cakes.” All these (kind of funny) photos of little old ladies kept surfacing. You know what? I’d feel guilty putting someone’s great-great-grandma in this blog post. But Olive, whoever you are, I hope you had one hell of a party.

Now back to the blog post at hand …

I just celebrated my 31st birthday. I am legitimately unsure how I got here.

I remember at some point in my life (probably college … early college), thinking that my master plan was: married at 24, kid at 26, kid at 28. I also was planning to wedge an extremely successful marketing career with an über cool surf company in there. To sum it up, everything would happen before 30.

Turning 30 secretly terrified me because I felt like I was behind. I had, both by choice and not-choice (fate?), not achieved any of these milestones. I knew for all the years leading up to 30 that it was coming. Yet when the day came, I felt rather blindsided.

I was supposed to “find myself” in my 20s, while simultaneously doing everything that would be considered unforgivable once I turned the decade’s corner. I was expected to have a Plan – have it all figured out – with a tidy list of “next steps” for my 30s. And I didn’t.

Earlier today, a friend was telling me about a meeting he had with his accountant, who has known him since “he was a fetus.” Most likely trying to be well-intentioned (or possibly just meddling), his accountant said, “You’re not getting any younger. Maybe you should think about a career change.”

Seriously? In the seemingly endless list of people who can try to dictate your life’s expectations and/or offer advice, I was unaware that your family’s accountant should be included.

With the advent of each birthday, some well-meaning person always tells me, “Oh! (Fill in the blank) was a great year for me!” This truism is usually followed by some type of generic statement like, “You’ll really know what you want out of your life.”

Well, isn’t that awesome. Because all along, I haven’t known what I wanted? Not so much.

And then along came 31.

You know what will make this a “great year for me?” Not comparing where I am in life to where other people are. Not looking at what I have actually accomplished, against an arbitrary list of  things I should have accomplished. Erasing the mindset that if I didn’t do it by 30, I can’t/won’t ever do it.

Because right now for me, the most important thing is thinking about the next day – the next week – and realizing that (to use another cliché) you’re better off late than never. And if I’m going to be fashionably late to the party, I’m might as well be happy.

“Everybody knows, it sucks to grow up”
– “Still Fighting It”
Ben Folds