Happy birthday to me!
Today, I’m 29 years old. Wow, where has the time gone?
Oh wait. That’s not right. Let me try this again.
Today, I’m 39 years old. Yes, that’s better. Thirty-nine.
You can understand why I’d be confused though. Because, 30s are the new 20s. And 40s are the new 30s. And 50s are the new… Yeah, you’ve heard this before. I recently caught myself telling my 81-year-old grandmother that 80s are the new 70s.
If this theorem is true, are 20s the new teens? Is 21 the new… 11? Sweet baby Moses, I hope not. Judging by the number of 20-somethings who call themselves entrepreneurs, who are starting non-profits, speaking out and speaking up, who are shaking up their industries, and who are making art that will change the way we think about everything, I think we can safely say no. Sure, we all know a few 20-somethings who are lost beyond belief. But I would hazard to say, we all know a few 30-somethings – even 40-somethings – who are as well. So there’s that.
Our culture has shifted in such a way that young people have more options, more freedom from convention, and far more trailblazers to whom we can look and say, “Well, shit. If they did it, so can I.” Thank you, Adam Braun. That does not mean that I, er… we, spent the whole of our 30s finding ourselves. I knew myself pretty well at age 30, thank you very much. And I’d like to think the detours I made were a result of turning away from things that didn’t feel right and turning towards things that did. They were adventures born only from knowing myself really well.
To boot, claiming the 40s are the new 30s suggests that the 40s are in some way undesirable, that getting older is icky. As if, it’s better to relive an entire decade than to own the place where we are right now. The saying becomes a consolation to anyone leaping into the next decade without their life totally figured out.
If 40s are the new 30s, then I have another 10 years to find my place in the world, to sort out my baggage. Phew!
Well, how about this: we are where we are, and we are exactly where we should be. We will always be figuring out life. Let me say that one more time. We will always be figuring out life because that is what we are meant to do. What’s the fun in figuring it all out in your 20s? You might as well just cash in those chips because GAME OVER.
Life is learning and growing. It’s developing hard edges and then softening. It’s noticing when something is not right and doing something about it – whether you’re 21 or 81. It’s like David Bowie said; it’s being quite aware of what you’re going through. We’re always trying to change our worlds. May we never stop.
So, to those who might have wondered when I’d grow up and grow out of it, I’ll say for the final time, I’m not. I’m 39, not 29 and there’s nowhere I’d rather be. I’m figuring this life out, just like everyone else. I think that’s a pretty darn great place to be – detours and all.
Happy birthday to me.
I created a little worksheet to help you feel really good about where you are in your life right now. No matter where you are, unless you’ve spent your life in a box, you have led a rich life. The things you’ve done have impacted the lives of others. And you’ve learned some valuable lessons. But you’re not done. Take some time to reflect on how far you’ve come and recognize your achievements, no matter how small. Let them be stepping stones to something greater.Yes! Gimme that worksheet!
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