Nov. 13, 2012 — Thirty. The big three-O. As one might guess, I recently had a milestone birthday. I turned thirty and honestly, the prospect was simply terrifying.
I know it is just a number and I honestly don’t feel any different than I did a week ago, but it’s just the idea of being in my 30s that kind of freaked me out a bit.
The number just seems so big. I’m sure all the old-timers reading this are chuckling to themselves, thinking 30 seems so small, but this is still new to me.
I got many opinions on 30: some helpful, some not. My colleague, Debra Moore, told me her 30s were the best years of her life. This was encouraging, since I was viewing the milestone birthday as the end of my life.
My good friend Samantha told me the 30s is when boys find their man strength and truly become men.
My friend Adam, who is a week behind me, gave me advice that probably spooked me the most.
Adam said the 30s is when you leave your fingerprints on the world. He said he was going to dedicate his 30s to making his life everything that his teenage self dreamed it would be.
This resonated with me for some reason. What kind of life did I imagine having when I was a teenager? Was I truly more idealistic then? Have I grown into a bitter old curmudgeon?
I sat down and tried to remember what I thought I would be doing by 30. I couldn’t remember what my plans and ideas were, so to speed up the process I looked for clues in my old high school yearbook, to see what others wrote.
Several people wished me luck in Hawaii, where I was planning to move after high school. I was going to move there for a business opportunity, but it never came to fruition.
Most of what people had to say dealt with silly songs I wrote, or cartoons I drew. Lots of inside jokes were mentioned. I also noticed that I was listed as class clown.
Though I’m still awfully goofy (some things will never change), I feel I can discern a little better now when to be serious. I no longer feel that life is one big joke and the world is its punch line.
I started remembering more and more what I was like as a teenager. I approached my teens and certain years of my 20s blindly. I never thought about what the future held and embraced only the moment.
To be honest, it was a lot of fun. I traveled all over, met interesting people and got myself into crazy situations. Lots of interesting opportunities tended to follow me.
I performed with a Vietnamese boy band and even wrote a song that made the top 10 in Vietnam.
I met a cannibal in Thailand who headed up a crazy cult in India.
I hiked around the Andes, Alps and Himalayas. I stumbled through these places with no plans for the future.
It was a great way to live those years, but boy was it exhausting. Though I had some amazing experiences, living that way closed me off to many more.
I wasn’t able to build and nourish important relationships, for I was all over the place. Once I got to know someone, I would be off to the next adventure.
For my 30s I have some big plans. I also have more responsibility and others to think about now. For example, I doubt my wife would like it too much if I started acting like a selfish teenager again.
My teenage self had ideals, but no concrete dreams or plans. My 30-year-old self feels more competent and able to accomplish long-term goals.
As far as turning my life into everything my teenage self dreamed it would be, no thanks. I’d rather my future self make those types of decisions.
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