Monday, March 20, 2006

The Dread of Happiness

Any day that I wake up is a good day, really. It's better than the alternative, so far as I can see. And in less than 100 days I will be turning 30 years old. Thirty.


When I was a kid, I used to love every year that I got older. And until a year or two ago, I was still unashamed of my age. In all fairness, I should still be happy, elated with each birthday. Not everyone makes it this far. Had I been born in a third world country or in some other far less fortunate situation, I may have died in infancy or y'know ... lost my adult set of teeth by the time I was 23. But I'm healthy and I live in the wealthiest nation on the planet. Thirty isn't just attainable, it's expected.

But I'm dreading it. I dreaded 20, some. Not like I dread this birthday, but ultimately for the same reasons. I have not accomplished what I thought I ought to have. This time what scares me is that not only do I feel like I have not accomplished what I thought I ought, I fear I have not accomplished what everyone else feels I ought. I'm going to be thirty years old, and I've only ever held entry level jobs. I'm an expert at being a "go-to" "do-this-for-me" assistant. I'm smarter than that, but frankly I really don't know how to promote myself beyond that. I don't know how to thrust myself higher. Sadly - though I do feel like my current job is a step in the right direction for me and will open other doors - I worry sometimes that I lack the confidence it takes to move beyond entry level assistant type positions. The only thing that I've done that everyone else (y'know, social expectations) supposes I ought, is gotten married.

The grand irony of that is that that is the one thing that at 20 I never anticipated I'd do - at least not before I was 30. Frankly, marriage is one of those social expectations I decided to ignore by the time I was 16. Who wants to be defined in a society solely by her relationship to a man? Men are no so defined. Why should I be. The only reason I am married is because Honey and I are positively silly over each other - even when we want to kill eachother. Had Honey never emerged in my live, I suppose I'd still be single and probably okay with that. I'm okay with being married. I'm okay with being childless. I'm okay with being a grad student. I'm not okay with reaching 30 on my nominally third or fourth entry level job. I'm scared. And I'm embarassed. Embarassed mostly because this part of the country requires that you have a career plan and that you be defined by it and motivated only by it. Scared because I do want a career, but my motivations are ... just to be happy. And how elusive is that?

I will be happy to have reached 30, but God do I want my 30s to be far more productive than the last decade!


Virginia Gal said...

Molly - I have said this before, if you were Indian you would be vastly successful, because you are married. I feel ununtterably a failure because at 29, I may have traveled the world but I'm stinkingly single. What juxtaposition we create, no?
We will have to discuss this over dinner on Sunday. Gotta go, people breathing over my neck!

JoeinVegas said...

But you're still a student - complain when you hit 50 and are still a student (unless you are a student again)