“Thirty was so strange for me.
I’ve really had to come to terms with the fact that I am now a walking and talking adult.”
My father turned 60 earlier this month. I know he won’t mind me saying so because he wrote an entire blog about it. For my Dad, “Sixty Ain’t No Big Thing” but still, we tend to give pause for birthdays that end in “0.” I turned 30 earlier this year and I’m happy to say that for me, thirty is a good thing.
If anyone reading this is under 30, you probably have some conception about what your life will be like by the time you reach the beginning of its fourth decade. Maybe you even have plans, goals you want to achieve, logically and chronologically organized on your “Things I Have To Do Before I’m Thirty and It All Goes Downhill” list. If this is you, you have my sincere admiration. I admire your ambition, your hopes and your ability to dream. Don’t ever lose that. But if I may, allow me to share with you the one thing I wish someone my age had told me when I was your age:
Don’t get too attached to your visions of the future.
I truly don’t mean this in a cynical way. I don’t mean to imply that your dreams can’t come true or that you can’t achieve your goals. I simply mean to say that being overly attached to a single vision of your future makes you rigid and immutable, and you’re much too young to create such an inhospitable environment for an open mind.
My wise young friend Amanda didn’t miss anything – no one tells you what it’s really like when you’re unceremoniously dumped into adult life and have to navigate without a map. What’s amazing to me is that at 24, Amanda is already aware of something that eluded me well into the past decade of my life:
“The part that I completely missed about adulthood, the part no one told me, is I am now the person responsible for my own happiness.”
I took some unexpected turns in my 20’s and I got lost a lot. Maybe you will too, but don’t be afraid of not having a GPS to guide you turn-by-turn through this part of your existence. As it turns out, you learn a lot by being lost. You grow a lot by having to start over. You learn to challenge yourself – not just by achieving the socially accepted milestones of young adult life, but by questioning your preconceptions of the world around you and the people in it, by having the courage to change your perspective and by accepting that you’re not the center of the universe.
And here’s another thing:
Don’t listen to anyone who says it all goes downhill from anywhere.
My life at 30 bears almost no resemblance to what I thought it should be when I was 20. But I’m a much happier and a far better person at 30 than I was ten, five or even three years ago. I used to think that I would have it all figured out by now, but the only thing I’ve figured out is that that magical point never actually arrives. And why would we want it to? Why would we ever want to reach a point in our lives and wonder “What if this is as good as it gets?“
Like my father, were I to summarize my 20’s, the final sentence would read “it ended well.” But I’ve also learned from him that life is about moments, not years and that it can’t be measured in decades. The advancement of one’s age does not, in and of itself, bring about happiness, even if the two appear to be correlated. It’s our responsibility at any age to find our own happiness within the passing moments.
Here’s to the moments after 30 – may I be grateful for all that there are.