Why 29 is Worth Rocking

By July 23, 2012Purpose

Have you seen the life rings on a Redwood or Sequoia tree? Each small line represents a year in that tree’s very long life. Humans carry marks of their own lives too–wrinkles, tattoos, freckles, scars, piercings, etc. We also carry those younger parts of ourselves inside us. With every year or layer we add on, it can be difficult to remember that our 5-year-old self is still inside us somewhere, as is our 16-year-old, or 21-year-old, or 40-year-old.

While I was biking home today, I had this uncontrollable urge to ignore my usual right-hand turn and continued riding, all the way to the ocean. My friends and family know that I crave motion, and I love to go fast. So I rode. The fog was rolling in through Golden Gate Park, as is customary on July nights in San Francisco, and I was overcome with joy, as I sped towards the beach. The 24-year-old version of me whispered, “See! Don’t you remember how fun this was? We used to do this all the time in China–just take off and ride for hours.” The wind blew in my face, and I could hear it and feel it all around me.

My bike in China (Hong Long 红龙 “Red Dragon”)

As I rode, I reflected on my 3 years in China. 4 years ago, I was working for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and I can’t believe it’s already time for London. I found my courage in China and an incredible determination and strength. Most importantly, China and its people opened my heart to another way of being in the world. Those stories live inside me, but I’m no longer there.

2008 Beijing Olympic Games

Last week I turned 29, and I’ve been giving this age a lot of thought. From what I’ve observed in the past, many 29-year-olds seemed stressed about turning 29 and being only a year from the dreaded 30, and they spent most of that year fearing 3-0. From my vantage point, they wasted it. 29 is a great age — you’re the seniors of the twenties class. You’re still young but you have the wisdom of nearly a decade. I’ve decided that I want to rock my 29th year and slide into 30 saying, “Wow! What an awesome ride!”

Photo by Vanessa Hellmann

I’m working on making some significant changes in my life right now because it’s time. I’m grateful for all the layers that live inside me and remind me to eat ice cream cones (the 5-year-old) and ride to the beach to see endless horizons. I’m also glad that I get to live in the present and choose what to take with me and what to leave behind.



Join the discussion 19 Comments

  • CeCe says:

    Love the idea of our many layers. I didn’t realize how much I did my 29th year until reading this post, I spent my 29th year taking a helicopter over the Grand Canyon, buying a house, partying in New Orleans, hiking in Yosemite, and traveling to Europe (it was exciting up until the last minute, even getting robbed 2 hours before my 30th!). Hope you have a fantastic 29th!

  • Kathy says:

    Happy Birthday, Jackie!

  • Devina says:

    Happy birthday Jackie! (or a belated one?) A long time ago I’ve made up my mind on not shrinking back every time someone asks my age but the way I see it 30 isn’t old to be, it’s another thing approaching 40 😀
    With age comes knowledge and many people only see the number of rings on their trees, but the things learned whilst the storms and sunny days raged go unnoticed, not marveling on how remarkable it was that their roots withstood those long years. I hope you’re one of the gals that sport their greys proudly, I look forward to mine!
    One common thing I’ve read and heard older people saying is that life’s too short not to be wild, spontaneous and awesome. You’re only 29 and you’re making every year count.
    Rock on, Jackie!

    • Jacqueline says:

      What a wonderful comment, Devina! Thank you! You’ve written very wise words. It’s hard to believe you’re only 16, right? But of course, that’s a age myth too — that you have to be older to be wiser. Funny you should mention the greys. I have no idea what I’ll do when I get to that point. Haven’t even thought about it…I’ll get there, when I get there. 😉 I’m still trying to cope with my fine-line wrinkles that have started appearing. ::shocked face::

      I especially loved this part of your comment: “One common thing I’ve read and heard older people saying is that life’s too short not to be wild, spontaneous and awesome.” Really appreciate all your encouragement–rock on as well, Devina!

  • Sriprae says:

    Happy belated birthday! May your 29th year be insightful, exceed your expectations and be absolutely marvelous.

  • Jen says:

    Happy Birthday! I hope 29 brings you lots of adventures and joy. =)

  • C Ohara says:

    Very well put. I’ve turned 27 this year and I don’t feel any more that I can pass off telling people that I’m 25. Perhaps I should just embrace it all! 29 – top of the class. The last couple years of high school were definitely the most fun. I’ll look forward then. I’m collecting wisdom as I go!

    • Jacqueline says:

      Thank you! I’m all for embracing it all! My grandmother always said that her favorite age was the one she’s at because she’ll never be that age again. Age is a state of mind, and it’s only a restriction if we let it be. With all that said, it’s easier said than done not to buy into all the societal constructs we’ve developed around aging.

      That’s why I’m taking a different approach–top of the class, indeed! And with all your travels and adventures you’re abroad, you’re definitely living more than most!

  • I remember freaking out on my 40th birthday. I thought it was all over, I was old and decrepit and no good to anyone. Ten years later, the day before my 50th birthday Princess Diana died, and the day after my birthday, my faithful dog died. At that point I realized that birthdays were of no importance at all in the grander scheme of life. They are just numbers.

    • Jacqueline says:

      Thanks for the reminder, Vicki! I think it’s awesome that you and your husband are seeing 40 places for your 40th anniversary! Life is definitely what you make it! 🙂

  • Phil Echols says:

    GREAT post! 29 is a great age. 28 wasn’t too bad either. I’ll be 34 in 16 days and the mid 30’s aren’t so shabby 😉 Life is what you make it. Cheers!

  • Priya says:

    I love this! Never thought of it as layers. Embrace 29 and rock it, girl!

  • […] year ago, I wrote: “I want to rock my 29th year and slide into 30 saying, “Wow! What an awesome ride!” […]

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