Sunday Advice Column #40 (is the new 30)

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The proper way to enter your 30s is like an action hero casually walking away from a massive explosion, like it doesn’t matter. That disastrous set of events that almost killed you is behind you. Now is the time to defeat your enemies and get ready for potentially lucrative sequels.

I’m deep into my 30s. They’re almost over. Fortunately, my whole life has building towards an awesome time in my 40s and 50s. Lots of people peak early, but I feel like I’m hitting my stride. I certainly wouldn’t have been mad at some earlier success, but you can’t work on the past, so you just have to accept it.

A good friend of mine is turning 30 this week. This post is going to mostly cover the strangeness of entering your third decade.

Historically, this was the end of the road for most humans. By this age you probably would’ve been stomped to death by a mammoth or eaten by an enemy band of neanderthals. Before modern dentistry and pediatricians, humans were pretty fucked as they aged. Thanks to Western civilization, we are able to live in relative prosperity as long as there’s a CVS nearby.

My own 30s started off pretty awesome, but went south within months, before slowly climbing upwards. I graduated and got married around when I turned 30. Those were phenomenal events. Unfortunately they happened in 2009, when the economy was in flames. I foolishly thought a college degree was going to change my life, but it didn’t. Thank god I saw through the scam of student loan slavery and found another way to get through school (the secret is be poor, work hard to get As, and fill out every single financial aid form ever made).

On to your questions.

What’s better about being in your 20s than 30s?

Experience, mostly. You will have seen enough things with your own eyes to make better decisions. You will know what is appropriate for you. You will have enough data to make informed decisions about who and what to keep in your life.

Your 20s are all about trying things. The stakes are higher than when you tried things in your teenage years. By 30, you should have a pretty good idea of what you’re looking to get done.

The real secret to happy 30s is editing. If you’re in a job you hate, leave it. If your partner is lame, cut them loose. Not living where you want to live? Then leave. You’re an adult, you get to decide what’s right for you. In olden days, this was stuff you’d figure out by 17, but we live in the adolescent post-modern age of adult toddlers.

Better late than never.

What’s worse about being in your 30s?

30 is a great age to get super serious about health & fitness because any biological advantage you had over your peers will slip away rapidly. 30 is when stuff starts falling apart, physically. But beware, it happens slower than you think until you’re about 35, then you have to work really hard to maintain what used to be your reality when you were being lazy. It’s a major bummer.

What do I need to start doing immediately? 

If you don’t already have biological kids and you want them, you better start trying. No matter what the “you can have it all” girl power industrial complex says, biology is a motherfucker and IVF is really expensive. If you want to pump out a unit without paying a fortune, get to it.

If you aren’t putting money away for retirement, you better get aggressive. 30 isn’t too late, but you’re missing out on years of compound interest. Learn about basic retirement accounts and get on that shit, otherwise you’re going to be a government dependent with a fixed income rapidly eaten away by inflation.

I have a week left of my 20s, what should I do? 

Mourn your youth, celebrate you’re impending death. Just kidding. But not really.

If things are going fine and you’re happy about your life’s trajectory, just go out with your close friends to a few places you like. Relax, have fun and trust that whatever was good about your 20s will probably stay that way for at least another 16 months.

This week can function as a magickal act where you set intentions for the future. If you wanted to get more into playing music, splurge on a new instrument. Buy fresh pens if you’re an artist. Get yourself something you can look at and remind yourself, “that’s what I’m supposed to be doing right now.”

Stay accountable to your dreams.

If you’re feeling trepidation about the future, get yourself some new clothes and an updated haircut. It’s the only thing I really did for myself at 30 and I think it actually helped. Just looking at a different version of yourself in the mirror is helpful sometimes.

How do I remember what it was like turning thirty? 

I don’t know, maybe you have some pictures? Or an exceptionally bad hangover to recall?

I’m super looking forward to turning 30.  Society frowns on this standpoint. Can you give me advice as to why it’s effing great to be turning 30? The things I’m being groomed into thinking I’m losing I either never had in the first place or are not valuable to me, such as “youth”.

Ultimately, there are no true universal experiences. When the dial rolled over to 30 for me,  I was convinced that I would suddenly have an easy marriage and a great career. The most helpful thing I learned at this time is no one is coming to help you. You have to make do with what you have and get to it.

In some ways, 30 is a time for realizing you do not have infinite possibilities. You have to make real decisions that will effect how happy you are when your body starts hurting and your midsection responds less to exercise.

But that doesn’t mean it’s over, it just means you have to pick something to pursue and use your three decades of experience in your meat form to make it happen.

Edit your life.

What is one sentence you remind yourself of in order to stay positive in your 30s? 

If I die, Mrs.Lott will have a harder time paying the mortgage.”

How do you handle weirdos? 

With kindness and merriment, while simultaneously increasing emotional distance from them.  Never give them your number or let them know where you live.

What are easy ways to tell if someone has integrity?

Do they tip at least 15%? Do they hold doors for people? Do they resist talking shit about people? Do they show up?

That last part is particularly worth talking about. I grew up as a shut in and have a hard time committing to social engagements. My couch, quietness, and a book are almost always more compelling than whatever someone has invited me too.

However, that is a bad way to live. I always regret flaking on people, and I always have fun when I go somewhere. It’s a major thing I need to work on.

When Christopher Hitchens died, one of his long time opponents wrote a very kind piece about him. What he wrote that stuck with me the most was something like: “no matter what you might want to say about Hitchens, he showed up. If you invited him to something, party or protest, he would make time to be there.”

I think that’s what made him such a good journalist. He didn’t sit behind his desk scouring the internet for clues to cobble together in to coherence. He was in the world, mixing it up. He was talking to people. He was experiencing life.

Hitchens is a good model for how to live. Not the smoking and such, of course. But he lived. Even when he was dying of cancer, he wrote and debated and loved and talked and drank and lived.

Be like that.

 

 

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