I had a thought this morning. Let me rephrase; I had lots of thoughts this morning—but there was this one thought, this one note-to-self that really stuck out. I can’t remember exactly what it was, but the gist was this: my whole 29th year has not felt like being 29 (whatever that feels like) but rather, like being “almost 30.”

I realized this morning that since the fall, every time someone has asked me how old I am, my answer has been some shade of “almost 30.” But that’s not even a number. It’s an anecdote. “Oh, I’ll be 30 in November.” They didn’t ask what I’m doing or what my plans are for autumn, but there I am, telling them anyway. It’s almost like I’m preempting their judgement: “Did you say 29? You mean you’re almost not in your 20s anymore. Don’t try to sugarcoat it.”

It’s strange, because the other post-20-somethings in my life have always told me they love(d) their 30s. They say, if there were one age they could replay, it’d be 30. Sometimes even mid-30s. I can see it. For many, myself included, the third decade of life is when you finally have it down. This whole life thing. Not everything, but a lot. You’re finally old enough to know better and do better. You have a job you (mostly) like, you make decent money—or at the very least you know how to make it last longer than a lap around the mall—and you kind of even like you. Even if other people don’t. Someone you barely know but who happens to live in the same building doesn’t talk to you? You don’t have the latest strappy sandal? You stay in on a Saturday night? It doesn’t matter. None of it!

So why then, does it feel like I have to justify reaching the big 3-0? I’ll admit, when the hubs and I decided to do the ditty in October of 2014, I found myself counting on fingers and thinking, “Cool. That way, I can say I was married at 28, way before I turned 30.” Umm…what? (Read: That in no way influenced our decision. At the time, I was pushing for a 2015 date, when I’d be perilously close to D-Day.) Why should that have registered even the faintest flicker of brain activity?

Sometimes it feels like I’m packing for a camping trip with the destination unknown. Did I pack the marriage? Yup. Degree-related job? Check. Nice car? Thankgod yes. What about the plan on when to have our first baby? And while we’re at it, when to have the second. Are we going to have a second? Do we want the first? And how about the house, that’s gotta go in here somewhere. We won’t survive a day after 29 without one of those.

With all the preparations, I don’t know if there’s any time left over for you know, living. Being 29. Being young and married and kid-free and renters and, well, satisfied with it. Because no matter where we’re going, we’re not there yet.