This is more of a rhetorical question, but at what point will it sink in that my age now begins with a three? It has been a few weeks since I turned 30 and I am still in disbelief that this age is associated with me.
I don’t mean that in an, “Ew, get this cosmic number away from me” sense. More like, “Where did the time go and how did this happen so fast?”
It’s like when you fall asleep in the car when you’re a kid and then your parents wake you up when you get home. At first you’re like, “Wow, this small arm rest was a comfortable pillow.” And then you start to wonder how the one-hour car ride felt like three minutes.
That is how I am feeling.
I don’t know what a photographic memory is supposed to feel like, but there have been moments in my life where I can feel myself taking a snapshot and almost letting time pass in slow motion, just for a second.
And I kind of look at those moments as checkpoints – things I could lay out as if I’m creating a storyboard of my life.
Ever since my birthday, my mind has been wandering to those checkpoints – snapshots – and I can feel myself reliving them. It’s weird because no matter how long ago they were, or how young I was at the time, they all feel so recent.
But then I remind myself, “You’re 30 now” and it doesn’t make sense to me. If someone were to ask me tomorrow how old I am, I’d probably have to think about it longer than I should.
I don’t know if it’s all this technology we have at our fingertips nowadays that distracts us from the seconds on the clock, but it feels like time moves a lot faster than it did when I was a kid.
Back then, a school day felt like it took forever. I look back and realize we had recess every 90 minutes. That is baffling to me because it always felt like recess would never come. It felt like we were inside forever.
Alas, it was only 90 minutes. I’m still trying to wrap my head around that.
Ten years ago was 2011. Ten years before that was 2001. Welcome to my math class.
What I’m trying to say is: the 10 years between 2001 and 2011 felt like they took twice as long as the 10 years between 2011 and 2021. I don’t know why that is. I have my theories, but it’s not like the clock started moving faster.
Let me be clear, I know I am still young. I am not going to sit here and call myself old.
I guess I just expected 30 to feel different. And sure, it’s a case-by-case basis. There are people my age who are far more accomplished than I, who are married and have kids, and all that lovely stuff. Perhaps their 30 feels more real than mine.
What does it mean to be 30, though?
Does it mean we’ve levelled up on the carelessness metre and unlocked a full nonchalant and flippant, “It doesn’t matter what you think” attitude akin to The Rock, circa 1999?
Does it allow us access to a customer-to-manager interaction with an option to raise our voice?
Does it mean we get really good at writing messages in cards?
I’m going to answer those as: Only if you smell what The Rock is cooking, Please No, and Absolutely.
Honestly, if our bodies kept statistics and printed out final totals when we died, how many hours do you think it’d say that we spent writing messages in cards? It has to be a lot.
Anyway, I’m sure there is a handbook somewhere about what it means to be 30.
Speaking of handbooks, when you’re in your 20s, you somehow find yourself as the captive audience for all the, “Your 20s are for ___” advice-isms.
You know what your 20s are actually for? I’ll tell you.
Your (modern day) 20s are for filling out online personality tests so you can learn more about who are, right before you scroll through social media and pretend like you don’t track the progress of the people you once shared a classroom with, all while slowly realizing that you’re starting to like new things, but actually still like everything you did when you were 12, so you’re going to go back to liking those things again because they make you feel happy, nostalgic, young, and connected to your inner-self.
There. Take a picture, put it on a poster, hang it up, tell a friend.
I think one of my misconceptions about getting older was that we constantly build upon who we were until we become this all-knowing being who is invincible and enjoys phone calls. That’s not entirely true.
Personally, I think I’ve grown, but sometimes…maybe…I’ve grown sideways instead of upwards. Or, other times, maybe a Jenga block has been taken out of my foundation.
I look back at who I was when I was 20 and wish I still had his level of confidence and exuberance. That’s the closest to invincible as I’ve ever felt. Yet, in other areas, that version of me was so naive, unaware, and green.
I remember the first September after I graduated from university. I was at the mall during the day and I just felt so out of place. That was my, “Welcome to the real world” moment. It’s a weird thing to remember, I know, but it just felt so foreign to me. It felt like I was playing hooky and someone would eventually come up to me and say, “You don’t belong here. Go.”
In many ways, I think getting older is just about constantly finding a new place to belong. That’s how I feel. Whether it’s a physical place, a group of people, an online community, or just the knowledge that there are others out there who like the same things as you.
Heck, it could just be finding a new hobby. We’re a bunch of hobby hoppers.
Have you noticed?
Maybe it really is as simple as, “Time flies when you’re having fun.” Maybe the days feel like they’re faster because I’m filling the hours with stuff I like?
That can’t be it. I don’t know. I feel like I’m trying to crack a code that just leads to another code. A door that leads to another door.
Even as I’m writing this, I’m having moments where I stop typing and tell myself, “You’re 30 now” and it still doesn’t make any sense to me.
When I was a kid, my dad would point stuff out to me during car rides like, “That used to be an empty field over there” or, “That restaurant had a different name before and they put the new sign on top of the old one.”
Or, I’d hear about how the Big Mac has gotten smaller over the years. Stuff like that. You know, “the way things were” before I was born.
And now I’m the one making these observations. I’m the one looking around at plazas and housing developments and saying to myself, “Goats used to live there. Where did they goo-at?”
I’m the one looking at foods and reminiscing about how they used to look and taste. I’m the one referencing sports teams from 20 years ago. I’m the one starting stories with, “I used to have a teacher that…”
It is this collection of “used to bes” that keeps expanding with age. Memories that turn into a comparison of the present. Once you start doing that, I think you start understanding the motives and viewpoints of others a lot better.
Because I think it may go back to what I said about us realizing we still like the things we did when we were 12. At least, the framework of that notion. Maybe a lot of people are holding on to their view of the world through their childhood-self and thinking, “It was this way back then, why can’t it be this way now?”
“It was good enough for me…”
The problem is, we’re all 12-years-old at a different point in history. We can’t all have it our way.
Not to bring the word “millennial” into this post, but that is technically what I am. And yet, I’ve been asked many times, mainly on this blog, if I know what a VCR is. No, I was watching Space Jam on a cloud in the sky while laying on my back in the front yard. Very futuristic. Of course I know what a VCR is.
I say that just to make the point that…well…I really don’t know. It seemed relevant. You get the gist. I’m keeping it in. I’m 30 now, I can do what I want.
Ah see, there’s that 30-year-old invincibility slowly coming through.
I can’t tell you how hard it was to write this post. I’ve tried to say these words for weeks and didn’t know how.
People don’t really talk about this stuff. They just say they go to sleep at 9PM and we get the point. Aging is more complex than that, though.
It’s the idea that I’ve looked in a mirror every day of my life (or just about) and somehow changed right before my eyes, but still didn’t catch it.
I’ve always seen Paul. I still see Paul.
You’re 30 now. You’re 30 now.
I don’t see that; I barely believe it.
But I guess it’s like the opening lyric of that Staind song…
“This is my life, it’s not what it was before.”
‘Tis the point, I suppose.