I turn 30 today guys! 30 I can’t believe it! 30 and ready to….I’m not sure what.
I have such mixed feelings about turning 30. Part of me sees this as nothing different from any other birthday. Like, I don’t feel 30. But the other part of me is dreading the fact that I am no longer in my twenties. Being 30 sometimes makes me feel ancient, while at the same time, I know that I am not that old. It is a strange dichotomy. Sometimes I feel like Joey from Friends when he turned 30. Other times, turning 30 is no big deal.
I feel like I might not have dreaded (even if it is ever so slightly) turning 30 so much if I already had at least one child or at least been pregnant by this time. I always wanted to be a mom by 30, and it just was not in the cards for me. However, I have accomplished a lot before the age of 30 and a good amount of it happened in the last 10 years.
A Trip Down Memory Lane
I thought I’d share some important events that happened to me over the last 10 years. This is a great way for me to share more about myself and remind myself of everything I have to be thankful for. Some “bad” things happened to me over this period, but even those negative experiences taught me a lot and helped make me the person I am today.
I turned 20 in 2010. At 20, there was not a whole lot of BIG things going on, just many little things. At 20 I was attending community college working towards my BS and was inducted into Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society (for people attending community colleges and maintain a 3.5 GPA or better). I did eventually transfer to Liberty University to work towards my BS in education and I was taking courses online. I was taking 6 classes per semester (18 credit hours).
At that time, I was also inducted into Tau Sigma Honor Society (students who transfer from community colleges into four-year institutions and maintain a 3.5. GPA or better)! The decision to attend school online was definitely a good one for me. I was able to balance my schoolwork out to be able to travel with my parents or take trips of my own.
At this time, I had already been dating my hubby for two years. We were in a long-distance relationship and I made 2 trips to visit him in Las Vegas and he also made two trips to Texas to see me.
At 20 my grandparents (my dad’s parents) made their first trip to visit us in almost 15 years. With us moving so often, we were usually the ones who would visit them. During our military moves, we would always make the route take us through Mississippi to be able to see them. So, it was nice to finally have them be able to visit us and see our home and tour around Texas a little bit.
Unfortunately, my grandmother (my mom’s mom) died that year. She was living in a nursing home in Florida and was struggling with dementia for quite some time at that point. We knew that she was not going to be with us for long at that point and we just were not able to see her as often as we would have liked because she was so far away from us. To those asking or thinking why she was in a different state, we followed her wishes. She absolutely did NOT want to be a burden to us, so she stayed in Florida even though we tried to get her to live closer to us or with us.
Life was definitely getting more interesting once I turned 21. In that year, I had become legally of age to purchase and drink alcohol. And to be honest, that was not a huge deal to me. But on my 21st birthday I was FINALLY able to go to Warped Tour! This was an event that I had wanted to go to for many years. Hubby even took leave and flew over to Texas so he could go with me.
I also traveled with the hubby to Missouri and Iowa to meet his entire family. It was a two-week trip. When I say I met everyone, I mean I met EVERYONE. His dad was able to get the entire family to come to the St. Louis area to visit. I met all the step siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, and his friends in that trip. We then made our way to Des Moines where I met his mom, stepdad, younger siblings and his aunts and uncle on that side and his grandmother. I was also able to tour around both cities with his family and it was a lot of fun. I lived in Missouri as a kid, but never went to Iowa before.
During that trip up north, hubby proposed too! So, it was an incredibly good trip!
After that trip, I did my student teaching at a local middle school and then graduated college with my BS in Education shortly after.
The rest of that year, I was planning our wedding and looking for work. The wedding planning seemed to be a breeze. Finding a job as a new graduate was not nearly as easy. The state of Texas requires public school teachers to have a state certification. My program was from an out of state school and only gave me a certification for private Christian schools. There were no openings at the time at any Christian schools nearby. So, I was working towards earning the certificate through an alternative program too. However, none of the local districts were accepting alternative certification. So, I had to find work outside of the school districts.
Twenty-two was a big year for me. After about seven months of searching, I finally found a job and accepted the job offer a week before our wedding. My first real job after college was at a preschool. I was hired to be a lead teacher for the school’s four-year-old class. It was a brand-new location of an already established school system and was not at full capacity yet. The administrator of the school thought it would be perfect for me so I could learn to apply my skills with a smaller class and gain experience and confidence in myself before being overwhelmed with a larger group of kiddos. It seemed like the perfect job.
Then, the next week, I married the man of my dreams. It was an amazing day and was incredibly happy with how everything turned out. There was a bit of drama, but not so much that it overshadowed all the good that there was with it. We had a simple ceremony on base and then our reception at a honky-tonk. It was a lot of fun. Honestly, it was the best decision of my life to marry my hubby when I did. I honestly love that we married young. I will talk more about that on another post.
Getting married was the biggest thing to happen to me in my entire twenties. That decision was a catalyst for so many other things in the following months and years.
Shortly after our honeymoon, I started work at the preschool. My first job after school started on a good note. But, unfortunately, I had to quit that first job a few months after starting. The school just had so many growing pains since it was a brand-new school. They weren’t fully furnished when we opened and didn’t have all the curriculum or tools for teachers to use to be able to teach the kids effectively and I just didn’t have the skills yet to be able to handle not having everything I needed. They were also struggling with the ability to be able to pay their teachers and pay for supplies.
At the time, hubby was a full-time student and while he got a stipend from his GI Bill, we could not deal with my not getting paid like I should have. I also was not supported well enough to be a good teacher. I was kind of thrown to the wolves. They wanted me to do certain things, I tell them that I do not know how to because of lack of experience and requested assistance and then did not get that assistance.
So, I decided to leave that position because I was not doing those kids any favors by staying there and it was causing me too much stress. But, because I quit, that led to me being unemployed for several months to look for another job.
I also became an aunt for the first time! Our oldest nephew was born in October and there was an instant connection. I was kind of like Monica from friends when Ben was born “I will always have gum”. He is almost eight now, but he will always be my little britches (he loved Jungle Book when he was itty bitty).
A few months after quitting at the preschool, I was able to get another position at a daycare. I was more of an assistant teacher in this location and was told I would be given a lot more support to help increase my applied skills. I was excited at first, especially with the amount of training they made me go through before even stepping foot in the classroom. Well, that was all a façade. Almost instantly I knew that this location was a horrendous place to work. When you finally look at the building besides the quick tour they take you on during your interview, you realize how filthy it is and how little everyone cared for the kids. But, I stayed because I wanted to work, and I stupidly thought I would be able to make a difference there.
I was working with four-year olds again. Even though I was an assistant teacher, the lead teacher would never show up to work on time, so I was dealing with the kids alone from 6 a.m. until almost noon some days. Some of the kids were angels, but others were something else altogether. I still have scars from one kid who thought it would be a fun idea to carve his nails into my hand and another kid punched me in the face when I was crouched down to try to talk to him.
Then the admin tore me down at every chance and never did anything about the lead teacher not showing up to work on time. This school also thought it was smart to take preschool aged children on field trips every two weeks. Despite having a class full of kids who did not listen to me and other discipline problems and no other teacher for support, the admin thought my kids were capable of going on these field trips despite my constant protests.
I ended up getting fired from this job. They said it was because I broke some regulation. I personally think they were looking for some kind of way to get rid of me. They fired me two days before my health insurance was about to be activated and they fired the only other teacher with a teaching degree (she was a public-school teacher for over 30 years) a week before me.
Horrible Mental Health
Getting fired from that job put me through the ringer. It made me question most of my choices and took all my confidence in myself away. I was so distraught for quite some time. Even though I know I worked hard and always did things to the best of my ability, I would go through scenarios over and over again to try to figure out what exactly I did wrong that would get me fired. It took me years to be able to talk about this situation without getting emotional about it.
Despite all of that, I needed to work still. That is when I found a position as a substitute teacher for the local school district. The work was not regular, but I was at least paid for the days I was at a school working. But, I HATED it. I hated every minute of it. The experience I had at the daycare just took every ounce of motivation I had to ever become a teacher again. That was another thing that just bothered me so much too. I felt like I had made a horrible decision in college majors and I needed to figure out a way to work but actually do something that I genuinely loved doing.
I got fired from that daycare job about 10 weeks before my 23rd birthday. So, I started that year in a very dark place. I actually developed severe anxiety from the experience and would end up on anti-depressants for nearly two years because of it. After that time, I finally found a decent primary care physician who looked into my symptoms and found that I have stress induced anxiety and can have problems with circumstances that can cause over-stimulation (e.g. large crowds, movies with too many special effects, etc.). But again, it took two years to figure that out.
Despite struggling with anxiety, I applied to Liberty University to start graduate school. I got accepted into the program and started courses late in the summer. I knew for a fact that I could not ever be a teacher in a classroom setting and work with other people’s children anymore. Liberty also had a new program specializing in counseling within the military community. I felt like that program was made for me. It was an easy decision to make.
I did not return to substitute teaching the following school year. But, I did land a job at the local community college as a tutor for the writing lab. Of all the jobs I had (all 4 of them *eye roll*) this location was my favorite. I was still teaching in a sense because I was helping people with their writing assignments. It was interesting because I was working with students straight out of high school as well as returning students of all ages. I worked with people from all around the world and a lot of veterans and it was extremely rewarding. I liked the people I worked with, which was a first for me.
Twenty-four was more of a quiet year for me. I was still working at the community college and working on my graduate studies.
I was still struggling some with my anxiety and had gained a lot of weight. That was especially heartbreaking since I had lost over 100 pounds just a few years prior after getting off of meds for my nerve pain. I would not say I was depressed at this time, but I was just existing. I was rolling with the punches and getting things done. But I was not exactly living my best life at this point.
Despite still struggling, I was able to finish grad school and earn my MA in Human Services Counseling-Military Resilience and couldn’t wait to find opportunities to volunteer and work that would let me help the military community.
My grandmother (my dad’s mom) passed away two days before my birthday.
Everyone was rather sad on my 25th birthday. But we were still able to celebrate, just differently.
I spent the entirety of this year looking for a different job. However, I had a few opportunities to volunteer with Soldiers’ Angels but was not able to find full or part-time work to apply the education I had just received.
I had just celebrated two years with the community college. But even though I loved the job so much, I unfortunately had to resign from that position. During this time there were too many family emergencies that were happening, and I got really sick for a while. I had been struggling with chronic pain and fatigue since high school and something happened that just put it into overdrive and I was missing too much work. I wasn’t sure in just how quickly things return to normal and my co-workers were getting tired of me having to change my schedule or call in to work.
Leaving my job at the community college hurt me a lot. It felt like my supervisor just dropped me like a sack of potatoes during a time that I was struggling and made me question a lot of things. It especially hurt since my co-workers and I would cover for her a lot at the time when she was dealing with personal issues herself. I got a similar feeling from my co-workers too. I thought I had fit in rather well there for so long and those last few weeks changed how I viewed the environment there. Despite the sour ending, I still look back at my time there fondly.
I was quickly able to find a job that let me work from home as a tutor. I was able to set my own schedule and work it around everything else that was going on at the time.
At 25 I was able to get off of the meds that were meant to “help” with my anxiety. Turns out, they were making everything worse. After that experience and what I learned in graduate school, I now know that while medication can be helpful, it should NEVER be the first tool used to help with many mental health disorders. I would still struggle with anxiety at times, but I learned about what triggered it and was able to work through it or avoid situations that would trigger it. Because my anxiety is stress induced, I also learned how to handle my stress in a healthier way.
The last time I saw my brother and his kids was when I was 25. My brother has always been a bit of a prodigal son. He has a pattern of leaving for years at a time for one reason or another and then want (or need) to come back home and act as though nothing has ever happened. A lot happened that led up to his decision to cut himself off from us again. It always used to hurt, but this time was the absolute worst because he took his kids with him. This is after them regularly coming to the house for family meals. I would take the boys and watch them when he and his (now) wife needed a break or had appointments. I was so close to them. My brother has a little girl now that none of us have ever met before.
I have so much more to talk about with this, but that will come in another post.
Twenty-six was another quiet year. But this time, I was definitely in a better head space. We went out and did all kinds of activities during this year. My husband also graduated college during this year and we definitely celebrated his achievements.
No Luck With Work
I was still looking for work in the field I went to graduate school for. After 18 months of searching, I finally got a call back from an organization I applied to. Turns out, the reason why I was struggling to find a position anywhere was because of two different things. First, many organizations want therapists and psychiatrists rather than counselors. They want psychotherapists and doctors who can prescribe medications rather than just talk therapy.
Second, organizations want actual veterans as counselors. My training gave me skills to counsel others, lead group and couple counseling sessions and offer advice. I was also trained to be an advocate for people. This means I can connect people with organizations that suit their needs or offer advice with how to deal with certain situations (e.g. helping a veteran apply for disability benefits). Also, I can understand that only another vet can understand what a vet has gone through, especially in combat. But, I always sold myself as a counselor/advocate for the spouses and children. They struggle with their mental health as well and need assistance; especially if their service member spouse/parent is struggling with PTSD. And secondary trauma and stress are real issues that need counselors as well. But, there just weren’t positions for me available.
I was unemployed again at 27. The company I was working with changed their policies and made it difficult for me to get clients. I tried to tutor on my own through sites that helped students match themselves with tutors. I had no luck there either. Not many students are willing to pay for writing tutors. If they do, they want to pay English majors.
Hubby had been out of school for a year at this point and had not found a job. The work he was trying to get into required a security clearance but the one he got in the Air Force expired when he was in school. None of the organizations were willing to pay to have his renewed. So, it was a struggle for him. But, that meant we were both unemployed at that time and we had to depend on my parents for absolutely everything. We hated that for so many reasons.
Despite the struggles, I was starting to take my health a little bit more seriously and lost about 55 pounds. I was feeling better and definitely looked different than previous years.
I also did everything possible to help keep my and hubby’s morale up and maintain a positive attitude. We were going through a hard time, again, but I just knew it was going to lead to great things for us.
Things were starting to come together by 28. My hubby got into his amazing intern program at this time. I was still unemployed, but I was starting to handle that fact a little bit better. I adopted the “bloom where you are planted” mentality and made the best out of my situation.
As a family, we agreed that living in a multi-generational household was going to be the best for everybody (learn more about that here). But with that decision, my parents sold the house we had lived in for 10 years and we all moved into a rental home. The house was sold because it was not going to accommodate three generations living together. Thank goodness our rental was temporary too because that floor plan had a lot of flaws too.
Since hubby started a wonderful new job at this point, we decided we were finally as ready as we were ever going to be to start having kids. So, we went for our annual physicals and took the first steps towards having a baby.
10 Weeks in Mississippi
My husband was required to go to Keesler AFB for training. This was a part of his intern program he is in. The training program was 10 weeks long. His supervisor signed him up for it and he was had to be there the Monday following Thanksgiving. I decided to go with him since I was unemployed, the training was going on during the holidays, and my extended family was nearby. While hubby was working on course work, I was able to hang out with my cousins; something I had never been able to do before.
My parents drove over with us because we took some essentials with us to help us get through the next 10 weeks. We lived in a Residence Inn the whole time. Even though it was a hotel, we had a full kitchen in our room. So, we needed to bring a few appliances and tools to allow me to cook real meals while we were there. Since we were over there during Christmas, we even brought decorations and supplies to let me bake while we were there.
It was the longest I had ever been away from my parents. But it was a cool experience. My parents did drive back over to be with us on Christmas. Sadly, my grandfather passed away about a week before Christmas. His funeral was the day after Christmas. His death affected me the most. I had just visited with him at his house a couple of days before he passed. He was in such good spirits when I was with him and his passing was a bit of a shock.
It was during this time that I came up with the idea of starting the CHO. I designed the logo in that hotel room and started brainstorming what I wanted to write about.
At 29 I am officially a blogger and working hard to make meaningful content as well as entertaining posts. I was working towards earning money with my writing. It’s a lot of work, but so worth it. I really do have so much I want to share with others, and I think (and hope) that it will be helpful for others.
Hubby is working extremely hard, and it has allowed us to be the most financially stable we have ever been in our entire marriage. We can go out to eat and not have to crunch the numbers before ordering a meal and can even order dessert if we want to!
This financial stability has allowed us to buy our house too (with my parents)! It is an amazing house that will be able to accommodate three generations really well.
COVID-19 hit this year and it has changed all of our lives…at least for the time being. While I really do not like this lockdown, it has slowed things down just enough to help me appreciate things more. I am reading for fun more; I am writing more and have had a chance to feel more rested than I have in an awfully long time.
We have not been lucky with having a baby yet. But, just like anything else, I am doing my best to stay positive and do everything I can to make it happen.
Lessons Learned for 30 and Beyond
I experienced a lot in my twenties. This last decade holds the best days of my life as well as some of the worst. Despite all the bad that happened, I wouldn’t change a thing. Each and every experience helped make me the person I am today. These experiences gave me all kinds of skills I can use the rest of my life. The bad taught me ways to cope and pivot as necessary to try to avoid more bad experiences in the future. The good gave me great memories to reflect on and goals to make and achieve in the future.
I feel very much put together at 30 (most of the time) and I am blessed to feel this way. Not everyone feels like they have everything together by the time they are 30. I will still fumble…a lot, but that’s just a part of life. A new chapter has started now that I have turned 30.
I feel very much at peace with myself. This is new since I have never felt like this before. I am very content with the life I am living. A lot of it has to do with learning to accept the cards that are dealt to me. God has a plan for me, and I am letting Him tell me where to go next. Do I still find things I want to change about myself? Yes. Do I still have goals? Yes. But, my priorities have shifted. I focus on the things I can do rather than the things I cannot do. If I fail, there is a lesson in that failure. I wouldn’t know how to live nor feel like this if it weren’t for my experiences in these last 10 years. With this birthday, I start a new chapter. It is a great feeling for sure.
Final Thoughts on Turning 30
I do look forward to what 30 holds for me as well as the entire decade and more ahead of me. However, it wasn’t that long ago that I thought turning 30 was the end of the world. I thought I’d be ancient at 30. While I still feel old sometimes (especially with throwback videos being posted on Twitter and Facebook), I also still do not feel like a full blown adult yet. It is really strange. Maybe 30 is the new 20…we shall see.
Where are my 30 year-olds? How did you feel when you turned 30? Was 30 a hard birthday for you? Or was it just like any other birthday?