A Checklist For Turning 30

January 22, 2013

Pardon any typos/grammar errors/logic fails…I’m a bit buzzed and getting drunker as I type this.

My new (temporary) 22-year-old roommate reminded me that I’m turning 30 in a few short months, and she just finished school. This depresses me. I’m doing my best NOT to think about April 25th, 2013, because I haven’t yet mentally prepared myself for what will be the first day of the third decade of my life. And I’m hoping to delay that inevitability for as long as possible.

Last night while perusing different news websites to help write the Weekly World (W)news post, I came across an article called “19 Things To Stop Doing In Your 20s.” It reminded me that my twenties are nearly over, and if I hope to attain “normal, functioning human being” status by the time I turn 30, I might want to check my own behaviors against those described on this list.

If you missed last night’s post, I addressed two points from this list:

“1. Stop placing all the blame on other people for how they interact with you.” What? Ugh. This is already too mature for me. I don’t want to think about how I interact with people and what I do or do not expect from them in terms of respect or treatment. No thanks. “5. Stop allowing yourself to be so comfortable all the time.” Ha! As if that could ever happen. Just because someone turns 30 doesn’t mean all the O.C.Dl, all the neuroses, all the anxieties suddenly DISAPPEAR. Yeah right.

So, what about the rest of this list. As a 29-and-9-months-year-old, I should be pretty well versed in things you’re supposed to stop doing in your 20s.

“2. Stop being lazy by being constantly ‘busy’.” Trust me, I’m not busy enough to put anything off, especially cleaning or cooking or hanging out with friends. If anything, those are my distractions from the realization that my life is going nowhere.

“4. Stop trying to get away with work that’s ‘good enough.'” Fair, but I think this is a statement that could be directed at anyone between the ages of 15 and 30. Then again, since this is a list of things you’re supposed to STOP doing before you turn thirty, it makes sense. I often find myself falling into that predictable behavior where I let myself do everything half-assed because I’m smart enough and personable enough to get away with it. And the only person that suffers because of it is me. Because I know I can do better than “just good enough.” Wah. Okay. This one actually makes sense.

“6. Stop identifying yourself as cliche and –” no, that never happens. I’m about the furthest thing from a cliche. You read this website with some regularity, right? What on earth do I ever write about that’s cliche? Are those dating stories cliche? Is my taste in music cliche? Yeah…not even close.

“7. Stop expecting people to be better than they were in high school — learn how to deal with it instead.” Yeah, I’m well aware of the fact that high school is just a pre-cursor to the real world. In fact, I think in your 20s people are worse then they are in high school. It’s as if people got out of their hometowns and realized what assholes everybody else was, and then they somehow convinced themselves that THAT was the way to get ahead in life, so they’re trying to replicate it, only they’re older and a tiny bit wiser (sometimes) so it comes out in a metastasized kind of way that is way worse. Does that make sense? Am I drunk yet? Hoo boy.

“8. Stop being stingy.” I can’t. I’m Jewish and my annual income is low enough that I could apply for food stamps if it wouldn’t be so soul-crushingly embarrassing.

“10. Stop blaming yourself for being human.” Really? That happens to people in their 20s? I thought that was something only 11-year-old girls do.

“12. Stop seeking approval so hard.” Again, I was not aware that this was something people in their 20s cared about. I mean, I stopped seeking approval once I graduated college. Who would I even seek approval from? My parents? Uh, no. I don’t live with them anymore, I don’t really care whether or not they approve of my choices. Also, I’m a reasonable adult human being so I don’t think any of my choices would be points of contention for anybody else. Also, it’s not worth seeking approval from superiors at work or bosses because, well, the average person changes jobs seven times in their lives so it doesn’t really matter whether or not your current employer or manager or whomever approves of whatever it is you do for them.

“14. Stop rejecting the potential to feel pain. Suffering is a universal constant for sentient beings. It is not unnatural to suffer.” Yeah, no shit. Have you traveled outside of the States? Everybody is suffering these days. You don’t even have to go that far. Go drive through downtown LA and admire the tent city that is Skid Row. That’s human suffering, and you don’t have to go more than a mile or two from your front door to come face-to-face with it. Pain and suffering are both universal. The sooner you learn this, the better. If you’re that naive about the world once you turn 20 you’re pretty much a lost cause.

“16. Stop meeting anger with anger.” On the other hand, there’s this. I would say it’s nearly impossible to put “thoughtfulness” before range-induced reaction. Think of every married couple that has ever had an argument. Think of the divorce rate in America. It’s the 6th highest in the world as of 2012. You know what that means? It means a lot of angry people. A lot of people who meet anger with anger. Even the author’s own justification for this behavior hints that he or she understands its pernicious and all-encompassing grasp on us. “TRY to suppress this reaction.” That’s how we’re supposed to stop getting mad when people make us mad? We’re supposed to TRY? By being thoughtful or not responding if we don’t have anything nice to say right away? Yeah, that doesn’t happen. It doesn’t happen in our teens. It rarely happens in our 20s. If we’re lucky, it might happen by the time we turn 50 or 60 and we don’t have much to life for anymore. But for everyone else, anger is as human a response as pain. You can’t turn it off.

“18. Stop ‘buying’ things you know you’ll throw away.” Why the scare quotes around the word buying? If I was writing this list I’d say “No, seriously. Don’t buy things you’re not going to use. It’s a waste of money you could be squirreling away for retirement or your children’s education.” Because nobody in their 20s has any money saved up these days. At least not anybody I know. Whether they’re successful or not. Instead the author here implies that ‘buying’ involves “investing in friendships that aren’t parasitic, spending time on things that aren’t distractions,” etc. etc. Yeah, no. This isn’t nearly as important as literally saving money. Friendships change over time. People constantly get distracted by hobbies that have no concrete redeemable value. I’d rather invest time and interest in a ballsy business venture (a “fleeting opportunity”) than not. Because there’s always the chance it could work out for me. Worst case scenario, what happens? I’m about a be a 30-year-old with a shitty job and no money and a healthy social life. It’s not THAT bad.

Which pretty much sums up my response to this article about the “19 things you should stop doing in your 20s.” You don’t have to stop doing these things. Any one of them isn’t going to ruin your life. Any one of them isn’t a sign that you are headed down a bad path. Maybe if you’re guilty of ALL 19 you might be in a bit of a predicament (and in all likelihood you’re mentally deficient and you live at home and need constant supervision so it’s not like shit’s going to work itself out for you anyway). But for those of us who might be guilty of three, four, six of these sins? It’s not so bad. And it gets better. Hell, there are people out there twice your age who haven’t figured this shit out. That’s what life is. It’s a learning process. Not all of us have it under control by age 30. Sometimes it takes until you’re 40, or maybe even 50…some people never figure it out. The point is, you try, and then when you DO figure it out, once you’ve stopped all the bad and only allowed yourself to do what is good and right, you die a day or a week or a month later. You don’t even get to savor it. That’s the fucked-up little joke of life. So enjoy it while you can, and fuck up along the way, by the time you learn to stop fucking up it’s over.


I’m sooooooo drunk right now. This is embarrassing.

Lil B – Black Flame [MP3]

1 comment

  1. |

    yeah man, turning 30 can be a pretty traumatic event… wanna hear something even more depressing? you’re actually entering your — wait for it — fourth decade of existence… the few months leading up to it were when i spent most of my freak-out currency, so it actually wasn’t too bad on the day… your final paragraph is sort of poetic in a john hughes-ish kind of way (i thought you’d find that more complimentary than ‘diablo cody-ish’), but i feel like we actually know what we should do much earlier than just at the end… the problem (problem doesn’t seem like the right word) is that we seem to be more capable of applying these figured-out philosophies the older we get… we don’t need a list to tell us tenets to live by, we know them instinctively… our guts are fucking brilliant… we don’t make bad decisions because of naivete, we make them because we willingly ignore what could (and usually would) be a better decision… my sitting here on the toilet responding to this post at 5:52 in the morning is the result of a number of willingly bad decisions… but in truth, a bad decision should only be considered a bad decision if you regret it 10 years later… everything else is just living life…

    i disagree with your thoughts on anger, but — fuck it, dude… i’m 30 and i’m thinking of ordering “royal rumble” on sunday… i obviously don’t have all the answers…

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