So I turned the big 3-0 today. What can I say? No big deal. I’m not in my twenties anymore so in the minds of some I’m probably “old” now. But I’ve stopped caring about age since two years ago. And I’ve never felt more free.
For most of my twenties I’ve put so much pressure on myself in correspondence to my age. I’ve always felt slower than most people my age that I start to subtract five years from my actual age because I feel what I’m accomplishing or doing has been done by average Canadian kids who are at least five years younger.
When I first got my G2 driving license I was 22. Most other people my age got it when they were at least 16 or 17. I didn’t have a “girlfriend” until I was at least 18. Nearly all of my friends had some type of love interest way back when. I didn’t move out until I was 29 and that’s behind the mid-twenties of the majority of Canadian youth I perceived. Point is: I was behind by five years in most what I did and that made me feel a bit “special” in both a good and bad sense. But this isn’t really what made me feel like sh-t.
What made me feel like sh-t was always thinking to myself I could have it all by the time I was 30. I would have a full-time job on a salary with benefits, I’d have a girlfriend, a stable set of friends and a fairly ho hum life. The classical “white picket fence” American dream of sorts. Since I was a teenager I’ve sort of pictured that’s how my life would be when I’m 30 not considering the facts that our reality has drastically evolved and competition has become so intense that all of that was more of a pipe dream than a realistic vision.
I graduated university when I was 23 and I was so indifferent to it thinking “oh hey, I’m going to get a job now and that’s that”. The first day out of school was the first day of my actual life. It’s when I metaphorically was popped out of the womb of the “spoiled entitled life” and into the harsher realities of “you ain’t sh-t, kid”. It’s like death by a thousand cuts. You’re in a fight and you’re not getting knocked out by haymakers but instead you’re slowly but surely getting beat down until at some point you can’t feel anything more.
Of course, I’ve only been living a few years beyond the sense of entitlement—beyond that sense that I mattered or that I was special. I never really adjusted my expectations to match the lower stage I found myself at. My abilities and drive didn’t even match my expectations. “You can’t catch a dream at a walking pace”. But that didn’t really dawn on me as I started to settle in a retail job.
Retail is one of the sh-ttiest jobs you can have. But the one great thing about it is I got to meet other kids who were just like me. They had similar interests, similar views on life and most importantly, were stuck in a rutting stage of life like I was. I found solace knowing that but it also kept me further from chasing my expectations as it got easier to accept my lowly place. There were so many talented and intelligent people working with me and I kept wondering why they couldn’t get jobs.
I alternated between working around 20 to 30 hours a week to partying to screwing around and to making a lot of bad decisions while still leaving with my parents. The sheer amount of influences had a confusing effect on me. But no matter what I did or where I went or who I was with, I could never shake off the feeling of anxiety and discontentment. And it tied in once again to my expectations of having to be at a certain point at a certain time.
Eventually, I would outgrow the retail scene and with some help I would land a full-time (but contractual) desk job. I was about 27 at this time and what’s funny is this sort of just happened. So I settled here for two years now until I started getting the itch again. That feeling of discontentment and having to be somewhere else. My expectations have now started to change but still revolved around stability and security.
Then I sort of had a mini mental breakdown: which is a longer story (will blog about it later) but long story short: I began to pursue my original passion again: writing. And I moved out of my parents’ place.
I wrote for a site that didn’t pay but what mattered was they gave me that chance to start. I parlayed my experience from this and got more writing gigs including one that actually paid and one with a prominent media outlet. I expected these at some point but I became so focused on that whole American dream bullcrap that I lost sight of this. But at least I got here. I’ve moved out on my own in a pretty good location.
At the end of it all, I managed to sort of get portions of what I was expecting out of my life. Am I stable? Of course not. The whole age thing just went out the window. Times are continually changing. You can’t hold on to expectations that can easily become dated and unrealistic.
Now that I’m 30 I had to go recollect all of this and see how I got here. There is no big change at all. It’s just a number. If I look back and ask my 23-year-old self if he would be content where I am now I really don’t know or care what he says. My mind’s finally changed with the times. But having a full-time job, living on my own and pursuing my passion are all parts of the expectations on myself and I got here without really knowing how. It just happened.
If I’ve spent the last seven years confusing myself and undergoing several facelifts to my psyche and still end up around the ballpark of where I expected to be then hell, why the heck should I care how old I am now? Putting a subjective value on age is limiting yourself to preconceived notions of a portion of of life. And from what I’ve learned all these years is to shut that idea up. Life happens. Don’t have too many expectations. Just live.