The one thing that you gain when you are laid off is time; time to think, time to look for a job; hours of unending solitude and resume writing. Each day looks and feels the same. Mondays are no longer the dreaded start of the week but just the day when the rejection emails start to come in. I can’t believe it has already been eight months since I walked away from my desk and into the unknown world of unemployment. Each tic and toc of the clock reminds me that I am moving slowly towards an uncertain future. Clearly there is light at the end of this tunnel, but it is still very bleak in here.
The expression “Time Flies!” doesn’t even begin to explain it.
All I have is time, and I spend most of it on the internet, job searching. Every couple of hours I take a break to check my social media news feeds and I was surprised to learn that it was full of articles that list the things you should have under your belt by the time you are in your thirties. “Things to do before…” slideshows bombarded me with images of places I needed to go to or things I needed to complete before reaching this milestone, which I already had passed by the way. No wonder my younger counterparts are so depressed, anxious and sad! Who in their right mind thought articles telling people how to take stock of their lives were a good idea?! Some of the lists had sound advice but there is not a fit all, serve all approach to managing your goals and dreams. Plus some of these lists discount items you may value that are not mainstream, like completing an epic D&D story. (That’s Dungeons and Dragons, an in person role playing game, in case you were wondering.)
The media makes it sound like nothing is more fun and exciting than being twenty and in love with yourself but somehow, at the struck of midnight on your 30th birthday, you are to ditch all that for a white picket fence and 2.5 children. You are told your career is not enough for us to think you are truly fulfilled. Does society really expect us to stop being ourselves and conform to their standards of happiness and success on a deadline? Furthermore, do they really think people stop having fun in their thirties? It worries me that this is what my counterparts in advertising are selling to the younger generations, especially when we have been told to be unique and follow your dreams all our lives. Halfway through my thirties, I can’t seem to conform to the respectable boring adult society expects me to be.
Let me tell you something, #1 there is no set of milestones that one needs to complete before turning thirty like getting married or becoming CEO of a Fortune 500 company and #2 age is just a number. Don’t get so caught up in the hype of growing up that you forget that maturity requires experience, and experience comes with risks and opportunities, not necessarily with age. If you don’t get out there and let life happen to you, you will learn nothing. Don’t wait until you are a few days away from the big 3-0 to examine your life especially when you are figuring out which countdown list can match your countdown clock. Hitting 30 didn’t automatically make anyone more respectable as a professional or a better role model for humans everywhere. I was the same person I was the day before; young and hip, but with the knowledge of many years of failures and successes. Strangers did address me as madam and my professional opinion carried more gravitas, but at the end of the day I still felt like the little kid that sat by herself reading a book while the other kids played with their toys. No one said coming of age was ever easy.
Somewhere along the line, others expect us to stop ordering pizza and play beer pong, but I haven’t found a law that says you have to leave your 20s behind to be considered an adult. As long as you pay the bills and shower once a day, no one cares about what you decide to do with your life; you are free to make your own choices. Your lifestyle doesn’t automatically change because you have a few gray hairs. The thirty something police doesn’t come for you in the middle of the night and replaces your wardrobe and earthly possessions with serious and expensive brand items. The only thing that will be different is the length of time it takes to recover from a hangover and that some of your friends will have curfews because they want to tuck in their children at night, especially during the weekend. Trust me when I say this, it feels like we are kids raising kids, even though some of my little nephews and nieces are a decade old!
Geez, this acting thirty something can be so confusing!
When I think back on turning thirty, marriage wasn’t my end goal (although I had managed to check off that box in between my Bachelor’s and Masters Degrees at age 27), nor did I expect my friends to have their ducks in a row. Maybe I was blessed with a social media free upbringing, or I just didn’t get a memo on how to make my peers sad because they weren’t on top of the world. It sounds cruel to reduce a person’s worth to such a small number of goals. Love shouldn’t come with an expiration date and neither should your dreams. There’s still time to have fun and be serious later.
At my “age” the idea of exercise shouldn’t be just dancing like a maniac in the middle of my living room and singing in the shower, but I don’t see myself joining the tri-athlete craze any time soon. If you must know, I still play video games non stop and will lock myself indoors for days just to finish a book before other people beat me to it. I never grew up or out of my childish ways and I think it makes the other adults jealous when I take myself to the arcade, to Disney World or to the batting cage whenever I feel I need inner peace. Taking care of me is the only grown up thing I do.
My advice to y’all is this: Walk tall, head held up high and strut your stuff. Show your ID proudly at the door when you arrive into this new and uncharted territory; thirty is not what it used to be especially now that you could last well into your eighties. I promise I won’t expect you to be boring, if you promise me you won’t expect me to become boring either. Last time I checked, you only turn a particular age once, and it is a blessing to reach each double digit in good health and great spirits. Turning thirty is not that special.
Forty though is a whole other story. 😉