“OMG, you’re turning 30… how do you feel about that?” I’m asked as though the moment I go from age 29 to age 30 that I’ll magically be transported into some state of infinite wisdom that I can bestow upon my younger friends. Or way less glamorous than that: I’ll be in complete and utter devastation. I’m not sure if it’s just me, but turning 30 has been oddly unceremonious. This could be due to the fact that, as I keep telling you guys, I feel like I’m still 17, and this denial tactic has served me perfectly well throughout my 20s. But the truth is that in my experience, there has been no grandiose moment. No marching band, no confetti falling from the sky. Just another day, a mild hangover and slight back pain. To be honest, the most daunting realization is that I’m officially twice the age of Cher Horowitz and definitely just as clueless.

The thing is, my twenties flew by so damn fast, that I didn’t even really have a second to prepare myself for a time when they’d be no longer. That in and of itself is indicative of the naivety that I am yet to grow out of in this journey I call life. I heard it in songs or from episodes of How I Met Your Mother and even Ferris Bueller himself said that oh the time moves pretty fast, but just how fast is something that I am still overwhelmed by. I feel a bit betrayed by pop culture — the first real love of my life — because nothing could’ve prepared me for that. No one wrote this side of the story, the one where the dream job or dream boy took longer to arrive than it should’ve, or the one where you realize that, even as an adult, for some as parents, or for others in positions of authority, you still don’t really know what the eff you’re doing.

I recently told a story about how my oldest nephew was complaining to me when he didn’t want to do his homework. He’s six. It was probably only three sentences, but at that at age it feels like a hundred. He asked me, “Hey, Aunt D, this is so hard, will this ever get easier?” “No,” I said, “but you’ll get better. You’ll get faster. You’ll be stronger. You’ll know a bit more.”

And the same is true in my own life. As my twenties have gone by, I’ve been surprised that as more challenges and failures have arisen, as I’ve made more consequential decisions, gone on various detours, and experienced disappointment, I’m in awe at how graciously I’ve handled it all. I’m still alive, aren’t I? The crazy part about going through hard stuff is that without it, I’m not sure how solid my character would be today.

You need life to be a bit hard, you know? Those are the character building, life-defining moments where you really get to know who you are, and what you’re made of. We need conflict, we need friction, we need traction, because without that, we may just slip and fall. I know in those dark moments of my life that have taken me completely off guard on a number of paths that I would not have chosen for myself, I’ve often been guided into places, toward people, and through lessons that I otherwise would not have gone to. And more times than not it was the best possible thing that could have happened. I’ve chosen to trust that when life guides me into those places, that something exceedingly good is in store for me, and I’ve been proven right time and time again.

And looking back over the last ten years, I’m in awe of all I’ve accomplished, a bit perplexed and definitely relieved that a lot of it is over.

I graduated from university.

I went on a mission trip that changed my life and where my love affair with tacos el pastor began.

I told my best friend that I loved him more than just as a friend in spite of my better judgement.

I lived in different cultures and ate food that is definitely not legal in North America.

I fell in love in a deep way with my parents as people, as loving, wise, and beautiful people who I aspire to be like one day.

I discovered that I could write and that I could sing, and that was only by an encouraging word from a friend who said I should just give it a shot.

I walked away from love that I knew wasn’t right for me.

I ended some unhealthy friendships that I desperately wanted to hold on to, only to be blessed with the best friendships I could have ever imagined.

I spent an unreasonable amount on concerts and shows and festivals and would do it all again just to see my favourite artists live for a second time (or if it’s Jay-Z, for a fifth time).

I traveled to many new countries and met so many amazing people who I will know for the rest of my life.

I learned (and continue to learn) that letting go is often the only thing you can do to make it through.

I disappointed friends, I’ve broken hearts, and I’ve made questionable decisions, all with the intention of trying to do my best, even when I fell completely short.

If there’s one thing I know for sure it’s that I have learned to love the skin I’m in. Slowly but surely, I have found a way to make peace with the person that I am, the person that God has made me to be and the path that I am walking through life on.

Okay, so perhaps this is more of a disclaimer; a PSA for all you young bloods about what NOT to do so you don’t end up a calamity, but the truth is that in spite of the misadventures, I can’t honestly say I look back and think, ‘wow, I wish I had done this or that thing differently’. This is the woven fabric that is my life. I’ve learned that happiness is a choice and that it’s important to stop and realize that something as simple as the sun coming out each day is a miracle, and that’s what makes life so beautiful… even when it’s reeeally shitty. Many of the things I’ve been through I never imagined I would’ve. More times than not I think, here we go again, another lesson-learning season, another battle to conquer. But I’m better. I’m faster. I’m stronger. I know a bit more. And I truly believe that no matter what life throws my way, I’ll be perfectly fine.

So OMG, I’m turning 30… how do I feel about that? I’m both petrified and excited for all that my thirties will bring. And no, I don’t have all the answers, but my skin has never looked better, I’m travelling the world and I’ve finally found workouts that I actually enjoy, so there’s hope for me yet. Goodbye to my twenties means hello to the future I’m continuing to carve out for myself, with all the hope and assurance that life really is good and that the best is always, always, always yet to come.