I’m hitting a milestone soon.
Crazy to think about it, really.
When I was young and stupid, I would joke that I would never make it to 25. Obviously, my idiocy regarding my own mortality takes on a new type condition of inappropriate in the world of the global pandemic. No question there.
But I also used to live with the idea that you live fast and die young. It’s an immature thought, but it is also one that I lived by for a number of years.
And here I am, approaching 30 very quickly and unable to really express what 30 means to me. By all accounts, I really wasn’t planning to get here. That’s not a statement that is self-destructive or self-harmful. I mean that I don’t think anyone really plans their life-path to correspond with certain milestones. I didn’t. Why would I?
I was moving through life, like we all move through life. I was trying to find stability, to learn, engage, and grow. I didn’t set a deadline for myself that by 30 I needed to have reached a certain set of milestones.
However, I have learned a couple of things in these years that I think are a culmination of my maturity.
First, I don’t care anymore. Again, not self-destructive. I’ve written before about my need to break free from societal judgement. I come from a place of self-consciousness. I’ve had a history of caring far too much what people think of me.
For the most part, I think I have wiped that out. I still have shades of those characteristics and I probably always will. Right now, though, my obsession of what other people think of me has been nearly wiped out. I’m comfortable with myself. I’m a dork. I like weird “nerdy” things and I’ve accepted that my interests are okay. As long as you aren’t hurting anyone, who gives a shit.
Second, I’ve learned the significance of being aware of others.
I think my partner is complicit in this paradigm shift. But I used to be very individualistic. I wanted to get mine before anyone else. I think some of that has to do with coming from a lower-socioeconomic background. When you don’t have much, what you do have and what you can get becomes amplified.
But I also think some of it is associated with selfishness. I have been and, at times, continue to be selfish. I’m more aware of it than I have ever been and trying hard to root that out of me have become very important.
I’ve worked very hard to have a degree of success. I can pay my rent and student loans and not feel crunched. We can furnish our apartment and afford to vacation (not that we’re doing that in the pandemic). When you scrap and scrimp for years with less-than salary, you start to realize that it is hard to scrap by and that success really isn’t granted. It’s earned (sometimes against near impossible odds). And, most importantly, you learn that you can give back to others to help.
So, service has taken a new place in my world. Volunteering and donating and using some of that success to help other people. It’s not something that I would have thought of in my late-teens and early twenties. I was too selfish then.
So, 30. I guess this is the decade where I have the opportunity to refine myself and to give back. It’s the first time I’m economically stable enough to really do either.