As I sit in a rare pocket of silence, I can’t help but entertain my true feelings around the milestone which was my recent 30th Birthday. Never usually one to linger on trivial notions of aging; I am suddenly intrigued at my desire and need to equate such time to collating mental data on my self-definition and worth to date.
In my 20’s, success seemed to be attributed to my ability to afford a plane ticket home at Christmas, a job title that boasted promise and direction, and an on-trend wardrobe that both empowered and impressed. Attending meetings with a latte in hand and a leather diary under my arm was a desired uniform – having valuable input and receiving praise in turn was beyond encouraging. Playing the corporate game in the big city was like sniffing my complete Sex and the City box set – I was chasing flickers of opportunity, seeking out rare finds on a budget, and living in a romantic state of mind; ever expectant of big magic.
What is big magic? To me it was an occurrence or event so incredible that you’d liken it to winning the spiritual lottery. I wanted something to write home about (or email); an achievement so rare and coveted that I’d spend years reflecting on it with gratitude and wonderment. The only problem was I had no idea what I wanted that big magic to look like, how I wanted to introduce myself to it, and questioned whether or not I’d be ready for it if and when it happened.
I worked in a unique pattern which was hard for some to contemplate. I chased a feeling or an ideal state of being over a pay rise or practical career path. Frustrating for those close to me, I was often skipping through my young adult life (post university success), waiting for life to find me…it never occurred to me that it was happening, and that I was one of millions of dreamers playing hide and seek alone.
Much like I imagine an actor would entertain different roles, I danced between occupational tags based on theories of how these roles might make me feel, or how they might make me appear to others. I wished often to be that girl at the party who had recently become a Doctor or an Accountant in a top-tier firm dead on the city grid – instead I was the up and coming ‘temp’ who dabbled in a puddle of multiple paid jobs, fearful I may never discover my true passion.
Time moved me on, and I became a Mum to my gorgeous (now two-year-old) son, Percy. Flicking watermelon seeds off my shirt became a regular occurrence, as did weekend baking and craft with my toddler whilst listening to smooth jazz. I started becoming aware that my big magic was living alongside me every day, and I needn’t wait to savour or enjoy it.
Parenthood is multi-faceted like a cut gemstone. Some days are bright and filled with moments to behold, other days are riddled with inclusions we struggle to see past – the silver lining being that our topical perception can change in a heartbeat. The moment I realised I had everything I needed to be happy, the rest became white noise and I was able to create joy in each new day for myself and those I love most.
I’ve watched ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ with Bert Newton in the Green Room, helped safely build the Queensland Children’s Hospital, acted in international cosmetic campaigns and Australian TV series’, pioneered an Engineering award, and most recently had my children’s rhyming picture book published (to name a few career highlights) – the best by far however has been turning 30, and relishing my family.
Voltaire affectionately shared his notion of acquiring value by saying; “appreciation is a wonderful thing. It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well” (1694 – 1778, France). Ultimately what I’ve come to learn and practice is that the state of feeling ‘successful’ is different for all of us. Some anchor their feelings of success around a high-paying job, a career title, or perhaps a lifestyle and/or acquired assets; others believe the health and wellbeing of family along with the ability to be good partners and parents bears the same weight. When I woke on my birthday this year, I didn’t look at the physical changes gained in the previous years; but rather chose to contemplate my human worth – who would miss me if I weren’t around? Who relies on me daily? Who loves me? What can I do better? How can I continue to make a difference?
However you feel about milestones, success and aging; it’s best to keep in mind that often times the greatest gifts are found in the present.