Last week was my 32nd birthday. It always amazes me how I keep getting older yet I feel like my mindset is still so young. On paper I am an adult — I have a full-time job, pay my bills on time, have a husband, take care of three animals, clean my house, etc., etc. Yet in my mind some days I have a hard time believing I’m actually 32. Thinking about having kids still blows my mind but I only have a limited number of childbearing years left in my arsenal.
It’s like marriage. Since we got married people have been asking us “how married life is?” Oh, it’s completely the same as our life before we got married, except that I have a different last name. It’s really weird how something so significant in your life can feel so completely ordinary.
My birthday falls toward the end of the year so I get a chance to reflect on how the previous year went and what I want to do differently in the coming year. It’s like a bucket list and resolutions all rolled into one neat December package. This past year I got married, which was wonderful and crazy at the same time. Next year’s goals include buying a house and possibly starting a family.
I also like to think about what I’ve learned in the past year as well. Something about getting wiser as you get older or some old cliche like that. The most significant lesson I learned in my 31st year of life: it’s okay if something doesn’t go the exact way you want it to. I already knew this lesson but boy did this past year really test my knowledge.
I’m a planner. I plan everything. I make lists. They are my life. Look in my purse and you’ll find at least ten scrap papers with lists on them, two notebooks with lists, and a planner with more lists. My phone also has lists in it – in the form of text message drafts. Currently there’s a list of baby names my husband and I like, a list of books I want to read, a list of websites I want to visit at some point in life, and a list of items I need to get at the grocery store. And I just realized that my previous sentence was basically a list of lists. I guess I never realized how deep the addiction goes.
But I digress. My point is, when I plan things, I have a certain vision in my head of how they should look or how they should go, and I have a very hard time deviating from that vision. The ultimate test for this affliction of mine was to plan a wedding. Almost nothing went the way I pictured it in my head. I had to either suck it up and have a good time anyway, or let it ruin my entire wedding experience. So I sucked it up and had a good time anyway. And now that my brain has had enough distance from the stress and craziness of the wedding, I realize that I did have a great time. No one died because we had to hold the wedding inside because of rain.
I had a chance to test my newfound coping skills recently when I wanted a plaid shirt dress to wear to my birthday dinner. I went to ten stores and couldn’t find a plaid shirt dress that I liked, so I was forced to find something else. This usually would have resulted in me panicking silently in Old Navy, thinking that if I had to wear something other than what I mentally pictured myself in, my birthday dinner would probably be ruined, no one would show up, and I’d be sad for the rest of my life. But instead I just picked out some new sweaters and moved on with my life. When I got dressed I didn’t have a mental breakdown, I just got dressed. And I’m sure my husband was grateful for that.
Emily Campbell is a perpetually single, 20-something girl-around-town who loves Shakespeare, old movies, Natty Boh, and of course, long walks on the beach. A sales manager by day and freelance writer by night, she was recently forced into a life of involuntary celibacy when her last relationship fizzled out over a text message. She’s tired of settling for second – or tenth – best, and she’s ready to find Mr. Right. Or, Mr. Nearly Right. No one’s perfect…which she has learned the hard (but hilarious) way.