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Leaving my baggage on doorstep of 30

In exactly one week I will turn 30-years-old. I realize that in the grand scheme of the world, this is just another tiny blip on the calendar - hundreds of people turn 30 every day. But I don’t turn 30 every day and it is kind of a big deal for me.

My friends and I still need to figure out where the “big party” will be but other than that, I have mentally prepared myself and am ready.

A wise friend of mine gave me some good advice recently. He told me to leave all of the baggage and mistakes I made in my 20’s at the door to my 30’s. He said lose it immediately and enter to the new chapter of life fresh.

He reminded me that while all of life is a constant mistake and learning process, our 20s are particularly prone to mistakes. But by entering into the 30’s with a clear head and recognition of past missteps, the next phase of life will be so much easier.

I have sort of considered myself “on vacation” as I have enjoyed the final months of 20s. As the year began, I solidified the break-up of a relationship I had been in for 4 years, moved out of the beautiful house I had been living in for some time, and ramped up a new relationship with someone very close to me.

A lot of changes have occurred in my personal life over the last few months, and as I adjusted to the changes, I took somewhat of a break from some responsibility.

Sure, I have continued to maintain my dedication to my career, writing, family and friends; but also I took some time to enjoy spending my money, I eased up on school a little bit, and missed a few events here and there that I had committed to.

A few days ago, I got angry at myself for the amount of money I had spent on things like eating out and clothes this year, but then realized I deserved it. I was operating in a bit of a burn-out mode and needed to put more focus onto myself.

Although I didn’t make the most responsible choices ($50 dinners for two people four nights a week isn’t the best way to beef up my retirement fund), I enjoyed every last piece of salmon, filet mignon, pizza, and dessert that I consumed. I am 29, have worked hard up to this point and deserved to take my own version of a four month vacation.

Throughout my 20s I made a lot mistakes. I screwed up some relationships and friendships, and did not always maintain the highest level of financial responsibility (don’t ever pay a credit card late – it follows you for way too long!). I sometimes made unhealthy eating choices and drove my car a little too fast. I procrastinated far too many times and told some lies on occasion. I didn’t always treat everyone with the respect they deserved, and probably should have read a few more books.

This is all OK though. There is no turning back, because the minute May 3 arrives, I am 30. I have no control over this and I am now looking forward to the next phase of my life.

I will take my friend’s advice and leave my baggage behind. Of course, I didn’t have to wait until I was 30 to realize this, but overall, I am very proud of what I have accomplished in my first 29 years and will bring these positive things with me.

It is never a bad time to reflect on what you have done, where you have come from, and where you are headed. Numerical markers like a 30th birthday are good symbolic points, but take some today to reflect on yourself. You can make change today and let go of any negativity in your life. It is a great feeling.

Sadly, I got two traffic tickets in February, and those will carry over into my 30th year. I don’t think the court system would let me say: “Hi judge, I’m letting go of the baggage from my 20s, so please excuse these tickets.” Court is next week.

30, I’m ready!

Ben Cartwright is SDGLN's Higher Education & Nonprofit Liaison and has been a campus and community activist in San Diego for over 10-years. His community involvement began as a student at SDSU and from there he launched into a number of other community activities. He has written for a number of local publications including Update, Hillquest, and GLT. Cartwright won the Lambda Archive's 2007 "Community Hero Award"; 2008 Nicky Award for "Outstanding Community Activist"; and a 2009 Nicky Award for "Outstanding Writer/Columnist".