On 30

Every time I attempt to write about what its like to turn 30 I get stopped at the first sentence. I never really know why or for who I am writing but only know that I should be.

Which makes it hard to get to the second sentence. But now that I am solidly into the 4th, things are going more smoothly and I’m settling in. To begin at nowhere in particular, I guess I feel that at this point in my life I should be able to do everything well and expound upon most things with ease. Writing obviously, but also finance, real estate, literature, current events and the state of media, bias and prejudice, demographics, marketing, the major cultures, medicine and drugs, and especially music and technology. I want to feel that as soon as I meet someone new, I can hold a moderately intelligent conversation on whatever that persons job or hobbies might be. I’m not sure why this has become an important issue in my life and why it comes to mind when I think about turning 30. It seems like a good age to finally be able to relate to people and to have a good idea where they are coming from in the most general sense. It feels like the years leading up to this turning point have been filled with an ego-centric point of view. That I have been pre-occupied more with finding out who I am, rather than who the people around me are. Perhaps this is the very definition of maturity (not Websters, go with me here.)

There seem to be two camps, both with conflicting opinions on turning 30 or on turning anything for that matter. One group holds great importance on the date as a milestone signifying true adulthood and the beginning of the transition to middle age. I’ve heard multiple times about the ability to leaves ones tumultuous and uncertain 20’s behind. Which, by default, assumes that the 30’s are an age of stability and confidence, something that fills me with unnecessary anxiety. Its touted as time to build the solid foundations on which the rest of one’s life will stand. On the other side are those that espouse that 30 is just a number, another age that one inexorably turns, “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” They say age is simply how old you feel and act (and more often in this reality-tv driven society, look.) Perspective and outlook overrule any arbitrary celestial event as insignificant as a rock orbiting a ball of gas x number of times. They encourage us to live we wish and to not be burdened by the unhappy souls with their hard and fast rules.

This is all well and good until you realize that nature doesn’t care how you feel about any of it and entropy will have its way with you no matter how you try and ignore it. So attention must eventually be paid to the gradual detoriation of our bodies and the physical limiters that become more and more apparent as the years pass. Its no secret to me anymore that the large majority of NFL quarterbacks are now younger than me. And while the pro-triathletes for the most part are still older than me, they have 10 years of the sport already under their belt. Which doesn’t even take into account the 19 year old pro phenom Andrew Yoder who came in 4th in this years NYC Triathlon with his elders Andy Potts (33), Matt Reed (34) and Greg Bennett (37) right above him.Thank God for Age Groups in these races. Its truly comforting when someone 10 years younger, or actually more often, 10 years older passes me, and I know he doesn’t affect my age group ranking. Us 30-34 year olds are all huddled together in the same boat regardless of experience, wealth, or having our lives together in any passable way.

I can never mention aging and physical milestones without feeling so blessed once again that I am not a woman. They have a whole different understanding of the term biological clock that I thankfully will never know. Which leads me to the glaring and nagging observation that a large majority of my high school peers are now married. Of these, at least half have one or more children. They own houses (mortgages really), silverware, joint bank accounts, possess health insurance, 401k’s, car notes, gone on cruises, joined churches, and have basically become contributing, valued members of society. I’ve done (I hesitate to use the word accomplished, as if these are things to be ticked off on an identical list that everyone has) none of these things. I’m not necessarily jealous or feel left out even, but I can’t ignore the disparity and pretend that I’m not in the minority. These facts though are mitigated by the idea, often trotted out drink in hand at fabulous NYC parties, that no one in the city has these things and certainly haven’t missed out for not taking part. We urbanites pity the suburban drones, chained to their house and car payments, diaper changes, streets with no sidewalks or all-night bodegas. They in turn think we are insane for living with constant noise, light, traffic and the never ending, choking crush of humanity.

What I’m getting at I suppose is that turning 30 is highly contextual. Like our perception of wealth, feelings about age largely depend on who we are surrounded by. Most of my city friends who are close to my age haven’t “achieved” their career goals or know that they are even on the right track. They don’t own anything larger than a bed or more expensive than a flat screen TV. And while some are slowly beginning to get married or settle into serious long term relationships, almost none have children. Perhaps with an increasing variety of life options that a city provides, the more time it takes to sift through them all and make decisions. That being said, my non-city friends lives don’t feel foreign to me. After all, I grew up in the surburbs and it was all I knew of life until I was 18. I see their happiness and contentment, the assuredness they feel in their lives and sometimes find myself wondering when my turn will come. I feel this most keenly during major calendar events like birthdays and new years. I can’t imagine the pressure I would feel if this was a constant state of being especially considering my current occupation. I refer of course to acting, not training.

Acting is perhaps one of the most difficult professions to endure when thinking about one’s age (aside from modeling I suppose.) Us actors are constantly evaluating our professional viability which is often linked directly to our perceived age. That relationship, between our biological age and our perceived age, is fraught with stomach churning anxiety. The best compliment most of us can receive is that we don’t look our age by far. Self-delusion in this area is dangerous and could easily be damaging. Showing up to an audition for a part that is far younger than I can play is one of the largest red flags for casting directors and a sure indicator that the person who should be most aware of their “type” doesn’t have a clue. Its not a far leap from there to wonder what else I don’t know. So I suppose I must tread carefully.

All in all, I am content. Looking back doesn’t cause me anxiety, or remind me of things I haven’t accomplished. Looking forward doesn’t frighten me. I believe I’ve set strong foundations for whatever lies ahead. I am lucky to have the terrific friends I do to look after me and shape the person I am. I’m lucky to have Kristin, who’s love is vast and unconditional and I am lucky for a supportive and healthy family. I suppose if I must turn 30, whatever that may mean, I am ready.