What proceeded out of my and Rod's mouths was nothing short of frantic vitriol being spat into Gina's face about how she should just stay in her 20's if at all possible because once you cross that threshold (and here's where one of my favorite Rod quotes is uttered) you enter a "downward spiral into oblivion."
Here's the thing. Rod and I LOVED our 20's. Being Goldfish Poodles, everything was so shiny and new and exciting. And everything felt like an accomplishment. Mom, I got a job! Mom, I have my own apartment! Mom, I decided not to eat the inside part of Oreo cookies for breakfast each day even though I totally can.
I started worrying that nothing I did would ever be seen as an accomplishment again, because I assumed that once you are in your 30's, people just expected everything. Of course you should have degrees. Of course you should've been promoted by now. Of course you should be able to keep a house plant alive....
Rod had similar fears. He felt like his major accomplishments all revolved directly around age. He won honors and held leadership positions for things that you age out of. He was always the youngest to do this or that, so he too feared that his best days were left in his 20's. Our best days were still somewhere using plastic crates as furniture and wearing Forever 21 outfits to the office. (Ok maybe that was just me. ...and maybe I still occasionally shop at Forever 21...but you get the point.)
And before you start judging us: yes, he and I both knew we were being uber dramatic and First World Problem-y. But it was fun to commiserate and there really was some tiny level of apprehension around our 30s. (Tiny level of apprehension meaning - I literally woke up panicking in the middle of the night more than once during my 29th year. I should switch to decaf and get a life, I know, I know.)
Oh! oh! And the other thing! For females, I feel like this whole getting older thing is even more pressure-filled because we have those baby-producing expiration dates and all that. And we are bombarded with stories of men who only want "younger models" etc. I just felt like my "value" for marriage was decreasing like a car. A really fun sporty car that splashed through mud, but still. And yes, I know I could've just settled down with someone in order to check off the whole Marriage box if I really wanted to, but I physically can't stay with someone just to check a box. I actually really need to love the dude. UGH. ANNOYING.
Anyway, Gina is laughing in our faces by this point while Rod and I are nearly making stoic suicide pacts over our chicken salad. At some point, Gina suggests that maybe Rod and I are climbing ladders of "success" based on wrong assumptions. That maybe we haven't reached the top of the ladders of our potentials, like we feared, but that we actually just need to find a new wall to lean the ladder on.
Ok, I explained that really poorly so if anyone reading this has a psychology degree, maybe you can help elaborate.
Regardless, it helped. Sort of. Rod and I pondered the possibility of New Walls and in the end, he ended up making a very personal/potentially career altering announcement in a very public forum, and me?
I JOINED THE MILITARY.
Well, I'm on my way to joining, anyway.(!!!!) A couple things need to take place first, but I was selected for something in the Navy Reserve.
And yes, I'm absolutely going to yell "YOU CAN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH!" every time I put on the uniform. I know that movie was about Marines, but yelling "MY EGO IS WRITING CHECKS MY BODY CAN'T CASH!" is not as rewarding...
So -YES! That is the thing I've been keeping from you (...and also my mother). The thing I went after like a spider monkey. The thing that had me running around the Pentagon frantically.
It's such a long story as to how I arrived at this goal, but I'm just thanking the Lord for the journey because it's been amazing on many different levels. I'm sure I'll have more to share (just imagine the embarrassing possibilities awaiting me in a world filled with physical fitness tests, uniforms, and weaponry...). But you know why I was selected? Because I had years of experience behind me.
AKA -- I likely wouldn't have had the slightest chance at this if I were still a fresh little 22 year old. Take that, Past Dana! With your wrinkle-free face!
So, OK, fine. Maybe there are a lot more things to be done even after your 20's. Maybe there are higher walls that I didn't even realize existed when everything seemed so new and shiny and I still felt cute and naive enough to get away with anything.
I'm now trying to look at 30's more the way Olivia Wilde talked about them in Glamour (yes, I just quoted a Hollywood actress and referenced a fashion magazine. I may be joining the U.S. Military, but I am not turning in my Superficial Girl card, child please.) - "Saturn has now orbited the sun once since you've been alive; make this next go-round whatever you want it to be. Consider your baggage (bad boyfriends, job setbacks, body issues) lost by the airline of life, leaving you empty-handed at your new destination with only one choice: Go shopping."
I think I'll do just that, Olivia. Uniform shopping. (...and maybe some new stilletos...)