Lets face it, by the time you turn the big 3-0 people expect you to have your house decorated like a Pottery Barn catalogue instead of showcasing proudly all of your Voltron action figures and memorabilia. Over my dead nerdy body! It is as if by decree you must become a functioning adult who has a career, a spouse, kids, a house with a picket fence and a dog at the stroke of midnight. Don’t be fooled. This birthday will not automatically turn you into an authority on life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, or boring. You will continue to be who you were and there is no law that says you must act otherwise. So don’t dispose of your graphic T-shirts and dreams yet. This is not an end, it is a beginning. However, it is not unicorns and rainbows either.
Let me explain. Turning 30 is tricky because no one wants to believe that they are in fact getting older. Mentally, you don’t feel old but your body will beg to differ. Since we spent most of our young lives chained to a desk, sometimes staring at a computer screen, our bodies develop aches due to the restricted movements of working with keyboards and mice. (Thanks engineers for touch screens!) You won’t believe this is considered normal wear and tear until your primary care physician confirms that the complaint is normal for your AGE. Ouch! Like any machine, we start breaking so the binging and over indulgence of the roaring 20s is no longer possible without heavy penalties or consequences. Overnight the hangovers are killer and will have you swearing to never to over do it again. But experience will teach you to find a new normal, with moderation. Even food becomes your enemy because many of us were still eating like college kids by the time we hit the milestone. Yikes!
Eating habits, not sleeping enough and lack of exercise can increase the chance that your blood pressure will spike, your cholesterol numbers will be out of whack, and/or your blood sugar will get out of control. The irony is that many of the weekend warrior health nut types may develop these symptoms because of our good old friend genetics betrays them. The body has been replicating DNA commands that it starts to push out more and more mistakes. Some kind of a health scare will be imminent. Adding insult to injury many start to develop allergies, medical conditons and intolerances. This will definitely solidify your worst fears: You are no longer invincible. This brush with your own mortality may usher a need to exercise and to stay fit to make it to 31 and beyond. Ever wondered why your “over the hill” peeps suddenly enlist for marathons or join crossfit? It is because we are all one medical diagnosis away from having to enact permanent dietary and routine changes. If you haven’t hit 30 please pace yourself. The medical issues will hit you like a truck of you aren’t paying attention.
By the time you get to this stage you will have many financial responsibilities. Get good medical and disability insurance. Lift wih your legs, not your back. Safety first folks, because getting new replacement parts is expensive.
Turning thirty can turn into an exercise in humility and understanding too. The chances of going through a few downsizing exercises at work, losing a child/friend/family member or getting fired will skyrocket. During this decade you will most likely lose a job or career, or feel or have the need to start over. This is a normal, a side effect of finally learning, through your daily interactions and introspection, who you are and what you stand for or against. Don’t overburden yourself wondering why things didn’t go as planned or why so and so got promoted. Opportunity and a stroke of luck need to meet up so that hard work and dedication do pay off. Others will say it all comes down to timing. Life is a waiting game that requires lots of patience. Don’t let the fear of missing out or of thinking you are doing things wrong eat you inside. You do you boo. Anxiety and depression can claim the best of us, and if they do there are many ways to address this. Seek help when you are feeling overwhelmed. No one expects you to manage crisis on your own. It can take a village of people to help you. Let them. 🙂
One important caveat: Adulting at this age means that you will have to carry on your shoulders a fair share of the weight of government, policy and social reform. Literally and figuratively the world will be yours to rule. How cool is that! Your duty as a citizen will demand that you fight for your rights and for the rights of others which can be brutal and daunting because if you don’t do it, no one else will. You will become the civil unrest, the bleeding heart, the liberals or even the conspirators, to give a few examples. There will be no more running back to mommy or daddy for help, and in some cases you will notice that they too had limitations and shortcomings as adultier adults. You may not like realizing this but you need to make peace with this undertaking and not shy away. The succesa of present and future generations depend on this.
Even those who proclaim the dirty thirty isn’t a thing to sweat about squirmed a little as their deadline approached. No one is immune. Be it claiming you don’t need an engagement ring before the clock runs out or saying they were happy being single, everyone feels pressured to consider conforming. For the first time in forver you will have enough life experiences to determine what works for you and what doesn’t. Don’t fall for the must do X by 30 trap. Find the courage to break free for the expectations set by your parents and society. Don’t be afraid to be on your own, single, no kids, saving for trips or aspiring to live greatly and not just paycheck to paycheck. Rushing into things to meet a made up deadline is not healthy nor sane. Age is just a number.
20 years ago you were 10 years old. Since then you have learned to drive, have renewed a few licenses and may have even purchased and sold real estate. Maybe even dared to purchase a brand new car. Not bad!
If you are staring down the barrel at 30 or have past it remember, tuning a particular age in no way shape or form defines who you are or who you should become. It only tells others how long we’ve been here. Make 30 yours. The best is yet to come.