A few months ago, my phone rang unexpectedly and broke the silence that usually surrounds me as I write. The caller – the Director of a Play I had auditioned for – bare incredible news.
“The lead role is yours if you want it…” he said calmly.
“Really?!” I replied unable to hide my overwhelming surprise. My heart skipped a beat, my stomach filled with butterflies and a gigantic smile lit up my face. I never thought this could happen, not for one second. This was it: my big break, the one thing that would change everything, the start of a new chapter!
Once the contract signed and the rehearsals scheduled, I couldn’t contain my excitement and started breaking the news to everyone around. I was going to be on stage for my birthday! The day I had been trying to ignore about for as long as I can remember – the big 3.0. and all the questions, responsibilities and pressure that follow – was now around the corner. Never mind, my dreams were coming true! Every night I pictured the upcoming evening when, after yet another heartfelt performance, I would hold a giant bouquet and bow in front of a room full of friends and family.
These positive thoughts followed me around for a few weeks and I began to trust life, the future, fate (or whatever you’d like to call it) until my phone rang again and – this time – disrupted my illusory bliss. The Director and the Producer had been arguing for weeks. The Director had enough and walked out of the project and so, just like that, the play was cancelled. My heart sank at the news.
I felt sorry for all involved – myself included. What would I do now? A couple of days later, I ended up opting for what I do best: escape, run away, travel! I booked a three and a half week trip to Laos and Vietnam. Somewhere along the upcoming journey, I would have to enter into a new decade… So what?
Why was it such a big deal?
Couldn’t I just embrace it?
Was it so insurmountable?
By 3.0. I thought I would:
- Be successful [What does “successful” even mean?]
- Have it all figured out [What’s “all”?]
- Know what I actually wanted [Is chocolate an option?]
Instead, I sat there staring at a “Before I’m 30 Bucket List” on which half of the items remained uncrossed. The reality hit me like a violent slap in the face. I was not where I wanted to be or thought I would be by 3.0.
My life seemed to be a no man’s land of uncertainty in which I floated crippled by doubts and overwhelmed by all the questions I still couldn’t answer. Would I ever settle down and, if so, where? Did I want to have children? What about my career?
Everyone around me said it would be ok. 3.0. wasn’t a big deal apparently. It was only 29 + 1. Sadly, their reassuring words didn’t get through to my cluttered brain as I spiralled further and deeper. It is praying for time to freeze that I desperately counted down the days separating me from the ultimate fall into adulthood.
On 3.0. Day
My alarm rang and as I got dressed for yoga class, waves of gratitude rippled through my whole being. After spending some time in one of Ho Chi Minh’s hospitals a few nights prior for acute bronchitis, I was glad to be alive, glad to be on Phu Quoc island, and glad to have the chance to spend time with my wonderful parents.
The three of us met for breakfast, went for a lovely hike to a nearby waterfall and walked along the beach for a while. Back at the hotel, we sip on a few cocktails and reminisced. Listening to their memories of the day I was born made me feel young and old all at the same time. Would this be the way I’d always feel around them from now on? I wondered.
My phone kept buzzing as I received lovely messages from all over the world. There I was, having a true Birthday Beyond Borders: one for which you get more wishes virtually than in person! That night, after a delicious surprised vegan cake, I fell asleep content, relaxed and smiling. Perhaps turning 3.0. wasn’t that bad after all.
A recent photo reveals little wrinkles around my eyes. I love them! They are the kind that makes people look constantly happy 🙂
Time is showing on me.
Time is ticking endlessly.
Time is my best frenemy.
Once again, this is what happens when I don’t know what to say or how to say it. Verses replace sentences. Perhaps in a year’s time, I will be able to tell you what it feels like to be 3.0. Hopefully, by then I will have come to terms with it and answer some of the questions that simmer away in my bubbling brain.
~ ~ ~
What about you, dear reader… How old are you? What does the big 3.0. mean to you? Have you spent a Birthday Beyond Borders? I would love to hear your story. In the meantime, cheers to another decade! May we all become older, wiser and “beyond borderer”…
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Lovely article. Remember, 30 is just like 29 but BETTER. I just spent my 32nd birthday beyond borders in Thailand. 🙂
Thank you! Thailand is amazing 😉 So glad to have spent my birthday weekend with you xxx