Sunday, April 3rd, 2011...11:36 pm
Me @ 30
Last week I turned 30. When I’m asked how it feels, I reply that thanks to all the celebratory ice cream cake, nutella S’mores, banana boats and black label my overwhelming sensation is that of chest burning acid indigestion!
But we all know that making a lame heartburn joke is a cop out for an answer. (So is saying I’m going to get a tatoo when I’m too afraid to pull the trigger.)
It’s interesting how in our 20′s we start off eagerly anticipating and wildly celebrating our birthdays (21 shots!) but that unbridled enthusiasm gradually turns into stressing and self-reflection contemplation as we get closer to 30. This does seem to make sense. Aging is mandatory. No matter how much you’re killing it, you have one less day to kill it in life than you did the day before. So the number 30 is certainly daunting. Heck, it was enough pieces of silver for Judas to betray Jesus (Matthew 26:15). One of the rallying cries of the 60′s was “Don’t trust anyone over thirty”. You can’t even watch adult content (XXX) without thinking about your roman numerical value and that you are indeed now an ADULT.
So I would be lying if I said that turning 30 isn’t at all intimidating. It is. But I believe that angst should go away as easily as a TUMS alleviates acid indigestion.
The thing is I do feel like a full-fledged adult these days. In both my professional career and personal relationships I’ve sensed my life perspective gradually shift over the last few years. I now, more than ever, recognize what I want to accomplish in life. That’s a good feeling. To know what I want. I spent much of my 20′s trying to figure that out. The NY Times writer David Brooks once wrote an article about the Odyssey Years as a stage in life. At the time, it helped me make sense of where I was in life. Now, while I’m still searching, seeking and learning I also feel like I know who I am and I know what I want more than I have ever before.
It’s always been important for me to understand myself. I’m wired to be a bit counter and I tilt more towards the independent and unaffected side. I never cared much about grades in school and set my own standards on how much time I spent on studying and homework. So I’ve just used that as a defining example of my ethos. I never thought much about how others perceive me or what I should change about myself….until recently. As I mature, I try to better understand myself, especially my weaknesses in my personality, values and views. Instead of wishing I can change who I am, I try to be more aware of how I can compensate for my shortcomings to improve my relationships with others and reach my goals in life.
I’ve developed an interest in learning and reading about emotional intelligence. In a nutshell it studies how a person perceives, uses, understands and manages emotions. I naturally do some of this stuff really well. I’m also naturally horrible at some of it. I like recognizing that and knowing when I’m falling short of my own expectations. FYI, my friend Evil Roy Slade has the highest level of emotional intelligence of anyone I’ve ever met and someone who I love learning from (even withstanding his west coast wedding speeches! jk)
It always made total sense for me to work hard at figuring out what I want out of my life. That might sound dandy but it’s sometimes tough to do especially when some of my desires go against the grain. I’ve struggled with this at times. I’ve questioned why I sometimes make things harder for myself. If I kept it simpler would it be easier? But I’ve learned that if I want to be happy and satisfied it’s become more evident what I should do in both everyday decisions as well as larger life choices.
I’d like to think in my thirties I won’t make as many decisions but rather react to life based on who I know I am. But as soon as I think I figured out one phase of life I realize that just means a new phase is about to begin. As college was ending, I remember worrying that my post-college life was never going to be as fun. I couldn’t even picture myself in this new life. But then I went out and lived life and had all these new and rewarding experiences. Maybe they weren’t as fun but in many ways they were better and made me happier. Now when I look to my next phase of my life I think about all the things that will happen with my career and my family. I see many of my friends already in this phase of life (or will be starting April 6th) and they love it. I have no idea how I’m going to be the business leader, husband, brother, son, friend and father that I envision for myself. Unlike at the end of college, I can picture all of it for myself. That feels great. It makes aging something I can casually blog about instead of stress about.
As my birthday approached, I unexpectedly found myself quite relaxed. Instead of trying to plan some kind of amazing big to-do I invited some friends and family over to my apartment to come out and playayayay. We ate dessert, had a silly string sneak attack, awarded each other trophies, and watched the college basketball slam dunk contest and the movie The Warriors (starring Neal Gold!). It was exactly the kind of thing, hanging with my favorite people, that I most enjoy doing with my free/social time these days. Just recognizing that that would make me the most happy is a level of comfort and maturity that I am enjoying.
One of my favorite historical baseball players is the Negro League pitcher Satchel Paige. He pitched well into his 60′s but may be best known for his memorable sayings (which I sometimes tweet out). Old Satch once said “How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you were?” I’d like to think I would still be 30.