youth gone wild

As I hurtle ever closer to 31, I’m starting to get a little… panicky. Unlike others, who on their milestone birthdays may have dry-heaved a bit into a paper bag before collapsing on the sofa with a cold damp washcloth over their faces, I had no problem whatsoever turning 30. Age 31, however, sounds dreadfully, heart-stoppingly critical. That’s, like, what? Practically as old as the pyramids, right? Do they even teach you kids about the pyramids anymore these days? Or do your ancient world history textbooks begin the day Steve Jobs was born?

Well, that joke was in exceedingly poor taste.

God, I’m old.

Thirty-one. It just makes me feel, like, a bunch of numbers superimposed over a picture of some buildings.

Here’s the thing, though. 31 is not actually — stay with me here, just hear me out — that old. No. I know! It sounds outrageous. It’s like I’m typing in a nonsense language. Bleep bloop bleep! Rah rah ah-ah-ahhh, gah gah OOH LA LA, want your youthful thirtyness! I think MTV actually believes that people over the age of 30 are eligible for Medicare. But I’m here to tell you that it’s simply not true. I applied and they told me I had to wait until I was 35.

ZING. I am knocking them out the park today, friends.

Listen, though. Let’s be genuine for a moment. I want you to look me right here. Right in the middle of this here blog post. I am gazing into your eyes. My eyes are laser beams burning a hole through your computer screen. Sorry about that; hope your computer’s still under warranty. I am virtually gripping you by the shirt now. I am so close you can smell the cherry bourbon on my breath. I have no concept of personal space. I am slurring slightly. I’m also kind of sweating. Sorry about that. But it’s important, what I have to say. I have to get close enough so that you can hear me over your Pandora/Spotify jukebox. Because I really need to tell you:

I love you, man.

But no, really, wait, seriously. Seriously. I’m being serious now. Like, super serious. Real. For real. I’m being for real when I tell you:

I have been in my thirties for nearly a whole year now, and I’m actually pretty happy about it.

Cross my heart. Hope to die. Stick a needle in my eye.

Except minus the needle and dying part.

Even though I’m less than one tenth of my way through my 30s, so far this squeaky, eking little tenth has somehow been better than all of my 20s combined. You know why? I like myself better. This is the best I’ve liked myself thus far in my life. How rad is that?

So I might be a little skeered of aging right now, true. It’s sometimes hard not to be. I mean, when you sit down and write 31 on a piece of paper, if you gaze at it long enough you’ll come to realize that 3+1=4. Right? And what does 4 do? Well, you stick a zero on the end and that turns straight into 40! And if you double that it doesn’t take you long to understand that pretty soon — probably tomorrow — you’re going to be 80 and waking up every morning wondering if today’s the day you’ll die.

But wait! Here’s the thing. If I’m this rad at not-quite-31, imagine how awesome I’ll be at 80? I can’t even fathom. By then I’ll probably have developed the ability to control objects with my mind.

I’m still a month and a half away from my next birthday, but to make myself feel better about turning 31 I’m going to take the time to list out all the incredible things my 30s has that most of my 20s didn’t:

  1. INTELLIGENCE. Right now, I am the smartest I’ve ever been in my entire life. And through the rest of my 30s, I’m just going to get smarter. [Sidebar: thanks, internet!] I’m not exaggerating when I say that I was a total dumbass throughout a giant chunk of my 20s. You want to know how stupid I was? No? Okay! For one, I almost married someone I wasn’t remotely attracted to and didn’t actually even like! That was such a great plan! So awesome to waste four and a half years of my life like that.
    For two, I once spent two entire days customizing my MySpace page. Do you remember MySpace? Show of hands if you remember MySpace… anyone? Okay, well, this is already uncomfortable. Anyway, I recall that as part of my profile I was able to pick a song that would play automatically whenever someone viewed my page, and after careful consideration I chose DJ Assault’s “Ass-N-Titties.” It was funny! I thought, because it was incongruous! It was so funny! I was the funniest person ever! I had to show them! All the people looking at my page! I needed to show them how hilarious I was, because otherwise they wouldn’t know! That’s what the profile was for, you see? OH MY GOD I’M FUNNY PLEASE LOOK AT ME.
    I could go on with other examples — approximately 3,963 of them would be crimes against fashion — but you get the picture. Let’s just say that if I could go back in time, I’d walk up to my 20-something-self, grasp her firmly by the shoulders, and say, “Oh, honey. No.”
  2. CARING. On a caring scale between Desperately and Obsessively (10) and Honey Badger Don’t Give a Shit (0), over the past ten years I’ve gradually slid from about an 8 to about a 2. Which is to say, I mostly don’t care anymore. About how cool I look, about what people think of me, about how many comments I may or may not get on my blog posts. Sometimes I slip up and do care, but that’s what the rest of my life is for. Eradicating the urge to care completely. I figure by the time I’m 80 I’ll have probably achieved the advanced caring level of Chuck Testa Nope! (-17) and I’ll be actively making people question my sanity.
  3. IMPROVED RELATIONSHIPS. From, oh, roughly age 10 to roughly age 26, I did not get along very well with my mother. Something about growing up made us understand each other more.
  4. BETTER BOOZE, FEWER HANGOVERS. As Courteney Cox said1 in her role on Cougar Town: “I have better wine than this at home, and at this time of night, all I want to do is take my bra off.” TRUTH. The fact that I no longer want to go out to bars doesn’t make me feel old, it makes me feel like I finally found the special VIP room, and it’s located inside my house. I don’t miss my friends, either, because our weekends are usually spent huddled inside each others’ homes, braless, fixing delicious and extravagant dinners while sucking down our drinks of choice made exactly how we like them. Then we all collapse in our own beds for a full night of sleep. It is a beautiful world, out here in my 30s.
  5. ENHANCED LIVING. Time was when my grocery list consisted of white rice, canned beans, I Can’t Believe it’s Not Butter spray, a box of Little Debbie snack cakes, and a bottle of cheap flavored vodka. Now the beau and I routinely make dishes like cambozola-stuffed and proscuitto-wrapped figs and gorgonzola watermelon salad, and wash it all down with a bottle of red or a nice infused scotch whiskey. I know way more about good food, and I eat (and drink) better than I ever have in my life.
    I’m not too bougie to look down my nose at a box of macaroni & cheese, though. The only way I’ll ever look down my nose at macaroni & cheese is if I’m in the midst of shoveling it into my mouth via fork.
    Or hand.
  6. MORE HUMILITY. The smugness of my 20s was a flimsy cover for my insecurities. I may still have strong opinions, but I’m not as quick to judge. I find that my anger tends to melt quickly once I uncover my eyes and let myself look at the human being standing behind the wicked spectre of my perceived enemy. I also find that I’m much more likely to cry at any television programming that involves sad puppies, tearful goodbyes, surprise reunions, shows where they rebuild the homes of people affected by natural disasters, and any episode of The Waltons.
    Sometimes I do this at the gym. Do you know how hard it is to exercise when you are trying not to sob?
  7. THE KNOWLEDGE THAT SIZE DOESN’T MATTER, AFTER ALL. I’m wearing a size L dress right now. Let me tell you something: there was a time in my 20s where putting on a size L dress would have killed me. This wall, this tidal wave would have drowned me in guilt and shame. I would have beaten myself up for not being good enough, why can’t I just be good enough? I would have landed blow after blow of mental punches: Oh god, I’m totally huge and I already have cellulite on the backs of my thighs and I’m totally uncool and I don’t care what my MySpace page says, I’m not even remotely funny.
    Here’s the thing, though. You know how I’m wearing an L? Well, yesterday I wore an XS. The day before that I wore an M. Which is to say: the tag is worthless. Well, and that the clothing industry is batshit insane. But mostly that the tag is worthless. Whatever it says is utter shit. I can’t believe I let a letter or number control me all those years. The clothes should conform to my body, not the other way around. I can’t understand why something so obvious escaped me all of those years.

There it is. Proof that youth isn’t everything.

How do you deal with aging?

 

1 Not that I’m cool enough to have ever even watched Cougar Town. What actually happened was, I was flipping through Caitlin Moran’s “How to Be a Woman” and this line — which Moran used to illustrate a point about bras — jumped out at me like a gift from the heavens.

20 Responses to “youth gone wild”

  1. A-fucking-men. I deal with aging by being smug, cursing a shit-ton, and talking about things as if I actually know what I’m talking about because I do.

  2. “it makes me feel like I finally found the special VIP room, and it’s located inside my house.”

    THIS. YES. OMG SO MUCH YES.

  3. I don’t like it. I just turned 34. It feels…..moldy.

    BUT. I am really excited to be really old, Like really, really old, when you just let farts rip and look at someone like WHAT. I can’t wait to unintentionally look like Betsey Johnson.

  4. I loved the VIP line too and enjoyed this post!

    And even though I am now so old I am eligible for Medicaid, I would have to agree that I like where I am in life way better now than in my twenties. I am still figuring stuff out and sorting out certain goals and dreams, so it is far from being a static, “stuck,” place. It feels established in a good way, and I feel more confident in who I am and what I have chosen to value in life. It’s like I have built the foundation of my life (probably through the hard work of the 20s) and now I get to enjoy living here and continuing to do some renovation as I grow and change. Plus, I am a much better cook and I eat way better than I did 10 years ago. :)

  5. Cherry bourbon??? I’m skeptical and questioning your cool quotient.

    My 20s sucked, man. 30 is around the corner and can’t come fast enough. I thought I saw smile lines at the corner of my eyes the other day and was positively excited about them. I’m weird.

    We can take the trips we want and as you said, eat nice food and drink good liquor and own that shit. Does that mean I won’t have cheese and crackers for dinner or brownies for breakfast? No, of course not. Why? Because we can do whatever the fuck we want.

    Also, how are you finding the book? Actually, don’t tell me, I haven’t started it yet. Pretend I didn’t ask. I’m too lazy to go back and delete.

  6. Do you know how I know you weren’t really as dumb as you say when you were in your 20s? You DIDN’T marry the guy you weren’t attracted to and didn’t actually like. That has to count for something, amiright?

    To be honest, I have spent my 30s recovering from the mistakes I made in my 20s. Hopefully, I’m just about past the recovery stage and can stop to enjoy them for the little time that I have left before I hit my 40s.

  7. For a few panicked minutes I read that one line as you DID marry a guy you didn’t like, and I freaked out, feeling like I didn’t know you AT ALL because how the fuck did I miss every conversation you ever had about being divorced? Why don’t I ever pay attention? Why am I always saying “wait, what?” “wait, what?” my WHOLE LIFE LONG? I need to know about your divorce! I’ll help you through it!

    And then I read back again and saw that you didn’t, in fact, say that. I need to stop reading blogs with a burrito in my hand.

    Sizes are the worst. I wish I had all the time in the world so I could just try on every size of everything and always get the right one.

    (Oh, and I’m afraid to even say this because it makes me sound like a pompous asshole, but just to clarify to everyone…it’s Medicare, not Medicaid that is age-based. Medicaid is income-based. Sorry. I only bring it up because late-life financial planning is so important!)

    • Ha! When I get divorced, you’re the first person I’m emailing for help.

      Also: SEE? I know nothing of which I speak. Thanks for pointing out the difference; I’ve changed it now in the text. What would I do without you and your burritos?

  8. Dude, don’t be ashamed of Couger Town. It is the dumbest show ever, that’s what makes it so good.

  9. 2, 4, 5 & 7, big time. Sizes are bullshit, and drinking at home is economical and way more fun! And I may or may not have had kraft mac & cheese leftovers for lunch at work today…

    I’m the youngest of my family and pretty much the youngest among my closest friends, so I’m always the last to face any sort of age milestone; by then, the sting has already been taken out of it. I’m not so much scared of getting older as I am consistently bemused at the fact that my friends and I are old enough to be married/have babies/have endured shitty jobs for several years/have been out of college and/or grad school for so long, etc…

    My mid-20s were challenging to say the least, but so far the lates are treating me reasonably well. I’m 28 now and I hope that by 30 I’ll have sorted out what to do with myself professionally. If not (which is likely), bring on the gerascophobic shame spiral!

  10. These are all good and wonderful things.

    I felt terrible about turning 28 a few weeks ago but that is because I have done so very little because of an illness which consumed most of my 20s. You’ve done lots of things and, as you say, life is getting better.

    I was trying to explain something about age to a friend lately. I associate being old with being without purpose or hope and my life has been like that a lot. In that sense I am older than a lot of people I admire who are in their 50s or even 70s because they are not like that.

    A few years ago I read about a study that included people from all over the world about times i their life when they are happiest. Supposedly we are happiest in our early 20s and early 50s. I ran around to everyone I know saying ‘Really? This is when I am meant to be happiest?’ and everyone pretty much agreed with the study. Personally I think it’s bollocks.

    I can only hope that my 30s are brilliant because my 20s SUCKED ASS as you guys say.

    By the way, your posts are a wonderful length.

    • Hey- A friendly reminder (that actually comes from my therapist) that no time is wasted time, illness or not. You know, you’re learning things and shit. And we all figure things out/accomplish things at different times, and have years that are more productive than others. You can change you life and turn it upside down or start doing things at ANY TIME, and saying that there are a particular set of “happiest years” is total BULLLSHIT.

  11. I’m turning thirty in like 3 weeks. Everything you mentioned here, I have been feeling it gradually shift in the last couple of years and feel like I’ve earned being 30. It feels great, especially the not caring as much. Though I am still working on the ‘insecure smugness’ bit. It’s a terrible trait and I still notice it in myself – but maybe the fact that I notice it means at least I have the chance to work on it? Hope so.

    Also, I think I’m dumber than I was in my 20’s – I used to actually work my ass off. Now I’m pretty much a slacker who drinks a lot more and watches a lot more crap on TV. But I also have a lot more fun, so maybe that is smarter.

  12. Can I get a shout out for “The Waltons” best damn show ever! I would have been to embarrassed to admit that in my early 20s.

  13. 35. That is old. And how old I am. So no matter old you are bitching about being I will always be older and therefore Dismissive of your woes. Nice, huh.

  14. awesome list. i am trailing behind, but ever worrisome that 30 is as awful as they say. you don’t seem to be doing too badly. 😉

  15. Ohhhhhh yes!

    I’ve been anxiously awaiting 30 (10 months to go), and I hope I don’t back down on that claim. My 20’s (especially early and mid) were full of so much DRAMA. Shit hits the fan these days, but it’s a hell-of-a-lot less drama. And, indeed, the food and booze are better. And I don’t spend a couple of hours choosing some horrible slutoutfit (*ahem* please slur that together as best you can) so that I shake my ass, drink a vodka cran, and be groped by a stranger that can’t quite stay vertical. Sweeeeet.

  16. I agree on all counts. I just still need to work on getting along with my mother oh well. What is with the whole crying at the drop of a pin thing? that happens to me to, and I never used to be like this!

    Also just by the way. If you ever started charging people to read your blog, I would totally pay. It’s that good.

  17. Crying at the gym because of some sappy commerical wedged in between football scores and cricket nonesense? Done it. Almost fell off the back of the treadmill. No lie.

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