This morning, I was texting with a friend from college and jokingly bemoaning the fact my 30th birthday now looms on the horizon.
“I do not like the idea of being 30,” he said.
With the calendar of my life turning over to its 28th year today, it’s a reminder I’m closer to 30 than 25. If anything, though, it’s about no longer feeling young, than it is feeling old for me.
No matter how much you try, it’s hard to put into perspective how fast time goes, especially as your years of experience grow. Popular culture puts so much emphasis on your high school and college years, but they’re rapidly retreating in my rearview mirror. I’ve been out of college longer than I was in college — in fact, I’ve now worked at the Transcript Bulletin as long as I was a student at Rochester Institute of Technology.
The late 20s seem to be the doldrums of early life. You’ve put the youngest years of your life behind you and while many are lucky enough to have decades ahead, you start measuring your accomplishments.
All of those as-of-yet unaccomplished life milestones, postponed travels and unachieved personal goals start gnawing on the corners of your mind. It makes things like watching professional sports, where 22-year-old multimillionaires play games for living, take on a different feeling. Don’t even get me started on college sports.
For me there’s bucket list items – the book I’d like to write, the races I’d like to run — which feel a bit more urgent. It’s an age where you’ve possibly hit a rhythm in life, but don’t feel invincible and timeless like you do in your early years.
Again, though, I don’t feel old. Sure, it’s fun to joke about, but I don’t fear my 30s. I’m not even worried about my 40s or 50s, either.
A lot of that comes from seeing my parents transition gracefully into middle age. They’re as active as ever – and in the case of my mother, likely more than ever.
It was certainly reflected last spring, when I ran a half-marathon with my dad when I was nearly exactly half his age. It certainly gives me a rosy outlook on where I can be at that point in life.
Those are comforting thoughts as I notice the ever-increasing number of white hairs cropping up on my temples.
It’s just easy to find yourself creating a checklist of where we imagine we’ll be in life by certain milestones, and 30 looms large in that regard. It’s easy to forget the people who didn’t really peak until much later in life than that.
Take actor Samuel L. Jackson, who didn’t reach national prominence until the early ‘90s, when he was in his early 40s. The late, great Stan Lee and Jack Kirby of Marvel Comics fame didn’t create the Fantastic Four — which launched the brand to success — until 1961, when they were 38 and 44 years old, respectively.
Julia Child is renowned for bringing French cuisine into American households but didn’t have her break until she was 50, with the premiere of “The French Chef” on Boston’s public television station.
For a more local connection, Harland Sanders didn’t franchise his first Kentucky Fried Chicken, located in South Salt Lake, until 1952, when he was 62 years old.
This is essentially a long-winded way of saying there’s so much more we could all look forward to in life. There’s more success, love and happiness to be found in this world, if we have the opportunity and attitude to look for it, whether you’re 28 or 74.