I'm seriously (or not so seriously) turning 30

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In less than a month I turn 30.

I realize I’m supposed to be freaking out about that, but I’m not. I’m actually kind of happy about it.

When I was in my early and mid-20s, I started looking forward to turning 30 because I thought it would mean people would take me more seriously.

But what I realize now was that no one took me seriously because I hadn’t done anything serious.

And perhaps I took myself a little too seriously.

But then, when I was 24, I got raped. I easily could have been killed. Rather unsurprisingly, that kind of changed my perspective on things.

I found a focus – writing – and stuck to it. I promised myself that by the time I turned 30 I would have published a book (or at least have a book deal).

I started working on a memoir about my experience, using the format of a crime mystery, who-done-it sort of story. I went to an artists’ retreat in the south of France on the side of a mountain and finished writing the book. I sent it out to agents. One actually responded and was willing to work with me on it if I made some major changes. I decided I wasn’t crazy about her suggestions. I decided to rewrite the book.

In the meantime, I got a job writing for a small weekly paper while I was teaching English at three local community colleges. After writing and teaching writing all day and night, it was harder to come home and write.

Then I got married to the most amazing partner I could ever have imagined for myself.

Free time became even more precious.

And I started working here, at The Forecaster, where I was encouraged to do more investigative work, which utilizes – but also saps – my creative energy.

So, a week after I turn 30, I’ll accept an award in New Orleans, La., from the Society of Professional Journalists, Sigma Delta Chi, for investigative reporting for my coverage of therapeutic restraint in Maine’s public schools.

It’s not a book or a book deal, it’s not my personal story, and it’s not what I imagined I’d be doing when I was in my early 20s. But that makes it all the sweeter.

I’ve always loved surprises and life has always been quick to provide them, probably because I’m a little impulsive (OK, a lot impulsive) and more than a little willing to embrace change, sometimes faster than it would happen on its own.

I’m excited to turn 30, not because people will take me more seriously, but because things just seem less serious now. And that makes everything somehow more important.

And more fun.