Today, I turned thirty. So naturally this was cause for self reflection – the good, the bad, and the on-the-way-up experiences that make me excited for this new chapter in my life and even more so to reach this milestone in Paris. To keep this succinct, I came up with 3 reasons for this upbeat outlook on the birthday, one for each decade:
1/ A firmer sense of self and a solid groove in the city.
Nine years ago, when I officially settled in Paris, I didn’t have a creative outlet, I didn’t know what each day would bring let alone an entire post-college career and I was perpetually doubting my choices. In hindsight, that seems par for the course. In our early twenties we barely understand ourselves as young adults and are, in many cases, grappling with the anxiety attendant to transitioning from four years of a familiar routine. I couldn’t count the number of times I questioned what I was doing in Paris, particularly as former classmates took to Facebook (the only widely-used social platform at the time, if you can believe it!) to broadcast their new jobs. On top of that, I hadn’t yet formed my own network of friends and acquaintances and relied heavily on C’s built-in group.
Grad school kicked things into new gears, as did this blog which I launched after graduating. From there, the city became my playground and I connected with others in the process of finding their way in an adopted home. It took years of nurturing, refining and pushing myself beyond my comfort zone but it is this experience that has helped harness my understanding of who I am in the world and, on a smaller but no less important level, in France. My interests and expectations from my environment and my friends have also evolved in the last decade and I am thrilled to see how they grow in the next.
2/ It all gets better from here
I distinctly recall conversations with women considerably older than me prior to arriving in Paris (a time when I was fraught with angsty, late adolescent anxiety about everything) in which they would assure me that personal greatness and self contentment and assurance lay ahead in my thirties. They insisted that all the insecurities and unhealthy self-flagellation would ease and I would start to appreciate myself, body and mind. I’d tackle the future less by blind enthusiasm and energy but with directed fervor. And by the time I turned 28, that truth finally began crystallizing. I feel liberated from what was once paralyzing doubt. It should be said that Paris as a landscape when you’re transitioning into adulthood and womanhood is as terrifying as it is exhilarating, particularly if you’re a woman uneasy in her own skin like I was. I wish I had had faith in the wisdom imparted by older women but I suppose I had to arrive at the realizations myself. And now, I’m focused on paving my own route with my own voice and vision, less interested in comparing myself and my work to others who share similar core interests. It’s upward and onward from here!
3/ The next journey
Where the unknown is less petrifying and far more exciting. My forthcoming book will certainly, hopefully, be part of that unknown and I look forward to seeing where it leads me! And as always, I keep myself open to where this city will take me. A voir….!
Any thirties wisdom you can impart as I begin this new journey?