When I Turned Thirty

by: faith losey

When I turned thirty a few years ago, I panicked and wore black for a week. However, the fear of losing my youth was not what kept me up at night, but the disappointment that I was still living an unsettled life. While I watched my friends and relatives live the societal ideal of graduating college, building a career, getting married and having kids, I was still trying to find myself.  As my birthday drew nearer and passed, I became obsessed with one question: Had I wasted my time all these years?Five years earlier, I had finished graduate school with a master’s in international relations and thought my future was bright and going somewhere. I was twenty-five then and made arrangements to return to the same east coast city I attended college. The plan was simple: I would move in with two old college friends who were co-habituating, quickly find a job in a humanitarian NGO or nonprofit and start living a fabulous life.

Predictably, my life did not go according to plan. I moved to the city after September 11 when most charities and nonprofits were implementing hiring freezes and facing shrinking budgets. Outside year-long paid internship with a publication, I spent two of the next three years either unemployed, temping, waitressing or struggling to make ends meet. During the periods of unemployment, I spent most days sitting on the couch, with my roommates’ cat curled up next to me, watching a corny, melo-dramatic, Lifetime movie where Joanna Kerns was being beaten up by her alcoholic husband.

I would allow myself to become absorbed in the predictable plotline to avoiding crying over: the 100 resumes I sent out which received no replies; the rent due in five days which I couldn’t afford; and fielding daily phone calls from my mother lecturing me about “networking;” and not being hired by a prospective employer because I was “overqualified.”

Socially, my life was not progressing well either. Although I enjoyed spending time and going out with my old college friends, drama and conflict was common place. A week would not go by without an argument breaking out. Also, I was perpetually single and seemed only to attract odd male specimens, perfect guys with no chemistry, or dysfunctional guys with chemistry. This probably would not have bothered me so much, except I was living with a relatively, happy co-habituating couple and it seemed like everyone around me was getting engaged.

After three years, I reluctantly made the decision to move back to my home state and in with my parents. Logically, I knew this was the right decision because my career was going nowhere, and my social life had grown stale. At the same time, I felt like the ultimate failure: I was twenty-eight, unemployed, single, had $300 to my name and all worldly possessions fit into my parents’ truck.