I skidded into my 30th birthday last year feeling pretty low. Not so much because I was leaving my 20s behind, but because I was struggling with how far I’d let myself fall personally. I had every reason to be happy. A kick-ass job, awesome house, amazing family. For those things I am thankful, but it wasn’t enough. I didn’t feel right with myself.
Working at a couple radio stations, going to school full-time and throwing another full-time job into the mix all at the same time in my early twenties left me little time to focus on my health. Working a zillion hours cost me about 70 pounds, and I struggled with trying to be rid of them for the better part of my third decade. I was miserable, though I think I did a pretty good job at hiding just how much.
About a month after I turned 30, things changed. I changed. It’s going to sound like a corny cliche dipped in cheese… but truly, art saved me.
It was a ridiculously hot August afternoon in Minneapolis. Some friends and I headed downtown and settled into the balcony at the Orpheum Theater. A map of Oz hung over the stage and I thumbed through the playbook as we waited for the show to begin. I had no idea what was about to hit me.
The trophy song from Wicked ends the first act.
Elphaba (aka the Wicked Witch of the West) decides she isn’t going to hide anymore after a life of suppression and feeling like an outcast.
The lyrics build an amassing of emotion, swelling to a moment of truth when she lifts above her persecutors and declares she is defying them all. Defying conformity. Defying gravity.
Two words have had such a profound impact on this thirty-something. I was absolutely moved in that moment and that song still stirs my soul.
There have been days this past year when the last thing I wanted to do was get on the treadmill or hit the trails. Days when my old self-doubting ways tried to lure me back into their destructive pull and attempted to convince me that I was okay with giving up again.
But I’m not okay with it. And I haven’t caved.
I tend to find things well after they’ve hit their height of popularity, whether it’s a musical, movie, album or what have you. I’ve always said I unearth things exactly when I am supposed to, when they help me discover insight into my life at that particular moment.
Wicked literally saved my life.
(That may make you roll your eyes or even groan… but it is 100% fact.)
As I turn a year older next week, I am a changed person. I am 52 pounds lighter (update as of 9/23/11: 62 pounds lighter 🙂 ) and am pushing full steam ahead for those last 18 (and then some). I am focused. I am optimistic. I am happy.
Bring it on, thirty-one.