I turn 30 today and I’m actually pretty happy about it. I’m not going to pretend that 30 has no significance, but what does it really change? Yes, I have some grey hair growing in. They’re a weird silvery white and grow freakishly fast. But no, I do not need Viagra, Propecia, CentrumSilver, AARP or any product endorsed by Chuck Norris. So why is 30 significant if on a personal level it doesn’t change anything? Because people treat you differently when you leave your 20s. Turning 30 is supposed to be the moment that symbolizes that final transition from child to adult. So yeah I understand why people get bummed about turning the big 3-0 because it reminds them of all the goals they have yet to accomplish. But believe me there are a few reeeeeeeeally strong advantages to being in your 30s vs. your 20s.
Advantage #1: You’re a lot less stupid at 30. Not necessarily smarter, just less stupid. At 25 the bad decisions I made in high school still hadn’t made any impact. Here is a short list of behaviors that I found acceptable or cool at 25 that as of today I now realize should not be practiced regularly, if at all:
- Lying outlandishly for no apparent reason to avoid explaining myself
- Showing up to work 3 hours late and hungover
- Wearing flat-bill New York Yankees hats
- Slapping friends in the face just to see if they’ll slap me back and then gleefully skipping away when they chicken out
- Staying up until 4am on a weeknight to play video games
Advantage #2: You can be a weirdo. This is the advantage I learned earliest because the truth is nobody ever cared how weird I was, I just thought they did. Now I’m that guy who wears pajama pants in public. When you’re younger you just want people to at best think you’re cool, and at worst not notice that you’re such a goof. Now instead of going for that hard-to-read-standoffish-douche-bag vibe, I’m at the point where I’m honestly just being me 24/7. That means PJ pants in public, not caring if people overhear me singing Lana Del Rey, dancing in the grocery store, using fake Russian accents with waitstaff, etc. etc. etc. It’s all good.
Advantage #3: Things slow down. Kinda. It’s an overstated thing but your 20s really are about getting to know yourself. They’re supposed to be one big party. Young people are not patient, they want instant gratification so they stick to simple choices, and race from one decision to the next because consequences ain’t no thang. 3-4 years ago I could not make plans more than a few weeks in advance because I was too amped and scattered with the immediate plans on my plate. And I can’t explain it but time just passes more slowly when you’re building up to bigger things, like say an epic trip to Napa, or buying a house, or writing a novel, or building a robot to clean my bathroom. It’s a factor of maturity and patience. And patience is a beautiful thing.
Advantage #4: You actually own shit. Ok, younger people can own stuff too, and I’m writing this sitting on a couch I got from my parents, but it is awesome to walk into my closet, or hop in my car, or even pick up my cell phone and know, “yep this is mine.” It’s a simple, shallow pleasure but I’m starting to understand Scrooge McDuck more and more.
Advantage #5: Your opinion has value. It is a mostly-true cliché that young people don’t know anything but are the most confident in their opinions. Adults tell you “just you wait, you’ll see” and “someday you’ll feel different.” You’re 21 so you scoff and you say, “uh Grandpa, clams are gross,” or “there is no way I’ll ever want to get married,” or “Dean Martin sucks.” But guess what, you were wrong and Grandpa was right. When I was ages 17-22 I KNEW I wanted to be a lawyer. Thank god I decided to take a job as a clerk after graduating college. What did I learn in that very brief awful experience? Lawyers are sadomasochists who feed on the blood/souls of the people junior to them for sustenance. Am I saying lawyers are vampires? Yes, yes I am. Anyway, the point is that as a younger person I had just as many opinions as I do now but had no evidence to back many of those opinions up. Now I know to keep my mouth shut if I don’t have enough info to legitimately form an opinion. This is likely the result of frequently making an ass of myself with bold Austin Powers statements like “that’s not your mother, it’s a man, baby!” I stick to what I know and try to rely on experience and evidence to back me up. What this boils down to is that as you get older people will actually start paying attention to your opinion, and in my case that should be terrifying for the rest of you.