I turned 30 in October. While I am not one of those who lament the aging process, I am trying to get my mind around everything that is turning 30. Whether you are right there with me, well past it, or approaching it, won’t you join me in rationalizing this glorious yet confusing milestone?
Here goes nothing…
I thought once I got out of my 20’s I would feel like a real adult. Boy, was I wrong. 30 is a dangerous age. On the outside, I’m a card-carrying adult who people, on most counts, seem to take seriously. That doesn’t, however, leave me any comfort. On the inside I feel like I’m pulling off the biggest scam the world has seen. Why would they listen to me? I’m just a ki…nope…not anymore. I’m old enough to know what I’m doing, young enough to feel like I don’t, but too old to fall back on any youthful excuse. Playtime is over. 30 is dangerous.
At 30, I can run some startling numbers. I’ve been out of high school as long as I was in K-12. By now, I could have gone through college 2 more times. I can now, with a firm memory, look back on certain things and say “That was twenty years ago.” Who knows? I might be saying that to a 12 year old kid, to whom I can logically say “I’m old enough to be your father.” Shocking.
Now, in my neither green nor ripe age, I’m already starting to say old man things I feel too young to say.
“Rain must be comin’. My knee is acting up.”
“I can’t eat donuts. They give me heartburn… No, not even one…I SAID I CAN’T EAT DONUTS.”
Just today I snapped the car radio off while a new country song was playing and remarked to my wife, “It just sounds like a bunch of hollering to me.” She laughed and told me her dad had uttered the exact same words when she was a teen. I didn’t care. It DID sound like a bunch of hollering.
As a lifelong student of music, I have probably spent an inordinate amount of time thinking about the great musicians over time–Hendrix, Lennon and McCartney, Cobain, Mozart–puzzled at how they could exude the kind of brilliance they possessed. How could they revolutionize their craft and create their most stunning work mostly in their teens and twenties? I’m starting to think, now that I’m out of my twenties, that maybe artistic excellence relies heavily on both genius and the bravado of youth. I don’t think about it as often now.
There are some upsides of turning 30. It seems now I don’t really care that much how I appear in public. I don’t feel the need to look, sound, or act cool. My swagger is fading. I don’t think I’ll miss it. I just want to get some sleep and to be left alone.
In public, I used to feel the same irritation toward college kids that I felt about high schoolers while I was in college. Now I just ignore all of them unless I’m in a store and want to know where the nearest bathroom is. At 30 I always want to know where the bathroom is.
So what is 30? It’s a dangerous middle ground. I’m not a kid anymore. But I feel like it. I’m not middle-aged. But I feel like it. Right now, for me, 30 is the place to be.
How about you? Thirtysomethings sound off! 40 year olds (and above), does it get any better? Does each milestone present its own challenges?