Falling With Style: Deadlines, Avoidance And The Looming Big Three-Oh

Helen Laroche uses her last blog entry of the year to purge some neurotic thoughts.

The end of the year has always been a rough, anxiety-ridden time for me.

Why? For all the familiar reasons: holiday-related family pressure, seasonal depression, {sugar, caffeine, insert-item-here} addiction, and pre-resolution last hurrah-ing (gotta get in as many cookies as possible before I resolve to lose 10 pounds).

But the end of the year — December 31, to be exact — is also my birthday. This year I’ll be 27, which is a completely unremarkable age in every way except for the fact that it is one year closer to 30.

Throughout my 20s, my decision-making process has been governed by one major philosophy: avoidance. Present Helen partied while Future Helen got stuck with the bill. And as the Big Three-Oh deadline looms larger and closer, I am realizing how often I have used the following bargain in my head: “It’s ok if I do [x] now as long as I am doing [y] by the time I’m 30” — a phrase so cliched that it’s referenced in A Chorus Line.

Some of the things I’ve been expecting will happen “by the time I’m 30:”
–I’ll become a mom.
–I’ll make at least $70K at year in the arts.
–I’ll figure out how/if acting fits into the larger lifestyle I want to live.
–My skin will stop breaking out.
–I’ll be a published author.

I am not particularly close to completing any of these things, and on December 31, I’ll have three years left to hack away at them. But there is some hope, because my 26th year contained something that my previous years did not: a practice of chipping away at my goals, and (more importantly) a willingness to forgive myself and get back on the horse when I inevitably fell away from that practice. And I wish I could explain how I did that — wish I could write it down, steep it in hot water and sell that potion — because it’s changed not only my art but my life. But “life is long, so quit being such a jerk to yourself” sounds facetious.

In any case, I have hope that in the upcoming three years I’ll set myself up for some success with my “By 30” list. And I have hope that on December 31, 2015, I’ll have the patience to forgive myself for the things that have not yet come to pass.

Just as long as I’m doing lead roles with 3 kids and a $100K salary by the time I’m 40. That’s still doable, right?

Helen will return next year with more Falling With Style. Meantime… Happy Holidays!