Ever since I hit 26, I feared the big 3-0. I was officially on the losing side of 25.
In grad school, I worked for a local police department doing research. The Chief became a mentor to me. He is seven years my senior and became an older brother I never had. We had lots of great times, partied and went through some tough stuff together. He was always somewhat jealous of my “youth”, stating that when he turned 30, he took a week off and cried. Somewhere in between is the truth but quite honestly, it gave me an unhealthy case of anxiety.
I’ve been 30 for four months. I wanted to wait a few months to see if there was some magic event or quest, like getting my Hogwarts letter or into some club or something and then write something about it because I am an anonymous internet writer. I’m told that’s what you’re supposed to do when you hit a life milestone that ends an era. I guess for many, 30 is the age you’re supposed to “have your shit together”.
What’s supposed to be different? I’d been in my twenties for as long as I could remember. You figure ages 0-10 are inconsequential and you don’t remember a lot of it. Between 11-20 is a big gap that features fun life events such as puberty and the unremarkable drama that comes with thinking everything is the end of the world, driving a car, going onto whatever events happen after high school, which for me was college and moving six hours away and a host of other events that aren’t relatable to what is now 30.
To get used to it, I’ve been saying I’m near 30 since 28 and claimed to be 30 at 29 to dull the alleged pain of closing the “young and fun” chapter of my life. Just last night, my buddy whom I was a groomsman in his wedding this summer let our friend group know he and his wife are attempting to have a child.
“WHAT THE FUCK MAN YOU JUST GOT MARRIED! ONCE YOU HAVE A KID, WE’LL NEVER SEE YOU AGAIN!”
This is hardly the first conversation I’ve had with friends regarding having kids and never seeing again but it’s much more frequent. I understand its part of life but it’s a reminder that in roughly five years, many of the people I see frequently will be lugging diaper bags and wiping shitty asses. I’m not sad or angry, it’s just part of life. People pick their wives/husbands over their friends and there is nothing wrong with that.
I’ve been a best man and a groomsman four times. Three have kids, one is trying and I have no idea on the fifth as his now wife is completing her PhD. Many of my college friends are starting to crank out versions of themselves. It’s a stark reminder that just because you dropkick a fire door in college, shattering what we found were $1500 doors, doesn’t mean you can’t “settle down” and be an adult.
I play in three hockey leagues and one travel team. This year has been rough in the injury department. As a youth, I acquired ~25 stitches playing, sometimes during games in which I’d get a quick butterfly stitch and head back out. I never missed a game to what should have been a game ending injury. I missed quite a few games this year due to injury and you can bet your bottom dollar I blamed it on being 30. We claim to be getting older, yet 30’s are prime of life. For me, it’s a coping strategy.
We go to school from 5-18. Life is regimented. I bet our high schools looked very similar. Bell and clock tell you where to go. In college, you had classes to go to and it was up to you to go. There were still consequences with not going, like failing out, but there was some choice. The other day, I dropped something in the parking lot and some college age girl saw it and chased me down, saying, “Sir, I think you dropped this.” That was a cinder block to the head as I identify with being not that far out of college. It hit me that it’s been 12 years since I started and nearly 10 since I graduated.
Things I have noticed are that hangovers last longer. I don’t drink as much as a used to which means I’m not used to feeling shitty and rebounding. I can’t eat whatever I want anymore. Now, I have a chocolate shake, my ass jiggles for like a week. I’ve become a pop culture dinosaur, as my prior sentence’s reference is an Adam Sandler movie that came out before 9/11. Speaking of which, I am friends with people that were not alive or were too young to remember 9/11 as a reference point. I hate the shitty robot toilet noise music that kids listen today. I am slowly on my way to old man.
The biggest revelation I’ve had is that events and setbacks, like my prom date ditching me (she thought that some other dude she liked was going to ask her out but he never did and she went solo) or getting drunk and breaking a fire door (yes, it was I that broke it) were going to send me off to the clink, are no longer even on my radar. Things that were life shattering then are now negligible. I would venture to say things that are issues now, like spending my entire savings on dental work, will not be a big deal when I’m 40. It seems you must survive and advance to get that real-life experience points and level up.
Being 30 is nothing to fear. Everything in life is largely an incremental change. Your 30th birthday is a random day signified by a socially acceptable calendar of the Gregorian persuasion to signify you’ve lived through 10,950 rotations around the sun. Like celebrating January 1st, as my friend Bono once and many times has said, nothing changes on New Year’s Day.