In conversation a week ago with a good friend of mine who just celebrated her 30th birthday, I found myself musing about being 30 again. Immersed in my memories, I was startled when I heard her say she was planning to purchase copies of my memoir for all her friends.
My tongue rose to the roof of my mouth and I swallowed as the crown of my head lifted towards the ceiling. I gasped:
“Do you mean your thirty year old friends?”
“Yes,” she said, “my 30 year old friends.”
I blinked. My breathing quickened. “Why?” I asked her. “This makes me extremely happy but why?” I sat back to listen.
She is a Millennial, she explained. People she knows who classify themselves as Millennials, herself included, make self-care a priority because they have witnessed how lack of self-care and lack of self-reflection play out in their parents and grandparents lives. “Sometimes,” now she took a turn at musing, “older generations believe practicing self-care or self-reflection indicates they are selfish.”
According to her, Millennials don’t like what they see when they observe the older generation. Their desire is to be different. “We know what it’s like,” she said, “to be with someone who doesn’t take care of themselves,” and she continued:
“Nicky, when I heard you say that your book describes your experience in therapy,” (I didn’t correct her that it was analysis not therapy – close enough I thought – she’s buying books!), “I knew that I wanted to read it.”
My body reacted to this news by sitting up even straighter. Deciding to use my analyst’s line I asked: “Can you tell me more?”
She seemed eager to continue the conversation and told me that my book would act as a trusted mentor. That it would offer her and her friends tools she could use to design life so she would flourish. That transitioning from her twenties to what she thinks of as real adulthood in her 30’s, means she will be making hard decisions about marriage, kids, careers and needs to know how to manage and develop her inner world. Reading how someone else navigated these changes would be helpful.
Then she confessed that she shares a characteristic with one of her friends: they are voyeurs. They would love to know what happens in a session between a professional psychotherapist and her analyst. She practically rubbed her hands together in anticipation of having such intimate, real information.
Later that day, I dug out the picture of me at thirty you see above and felt fondness toward this a curly haired brunette. At that time, I had just given birth to my third son, was attending classes at Des Moines Area Community College, and had primary responsibility for two other sons. I wish I would have known then one thing I have learned in analysis: Feelings are not ridiculous.
What do you wish you would have known when you were 30?