Decade Three: Complete

Two days hence, on Thursday, I shall turn thirty years of age. Since I will finally be a white male aged 30+, the world will start taking me seriously and listening to what I have to say.

. . . That was extremely difficult to type with a straight face.

Everyone says a switch flips when you turn thirty. You see life differently. Values and priorities change. You lay aside the wild child years of your twenties (did I even have any of those?) and settle down. The onus of adulthood finally crystallizes, becomes real, and presses against your shoulders as if to say, “Welcome to the real world. I’m here to stay.” Or so they say, at any rate. I honestly can’t imagine much of a shift in things aside from the slightly-wider eyes of small children who ask me how old I am and receive the response, “I’m thirty.” All I have to say to that is, “Those kids don’t get any birthday cake.”

Yup. That’s the mature, adult response, all right.

I suppose there’s an element of truth to those sorts of caveats, though. After all, I’m in the final throes of my twenties, and I didn’t accomplish half the things I had set out to do during the last decade.

  1. Graduate college — CHECK
  2. Get master’s degree — CHECK
  3. Get doctorate — Do I even still want this? Maybe?
  4. Get married — I don’t even have a girlfriend now. Zero points.
  5. Have at least one child by 30 — Since #4 didn’t happen, this would have been a pretty bad idea.
  6. Get job — CHECK
  7. Get own place (so long, parental units, and thanks for all the fish) — CHECK
  8. Become a superhero (no capes!) — Despite a number of spider bites and an affinity for bats, this one didn’t pan out, either. But hey, at least I didn’t become a supervillain, thus defying everyone’s expectations!

Alright, so I guess I managed four out of eight, which is exactly half. And to be fair, some weren’t realistic anyway. (And I wanted to be a superhero, too.)

All told — and in all seriousness — the last decade was pretty solid. Despite some genuinely rough patches, my twenties were good years. I found my passion in life. I found my calling. I made the best friendships of my life — I even managed to make friends out of my parents, which is something Teenage Chris never saw coming. I discovered I can be at home halfway across the country, and I affirmed the simple life is the best one. I learned I’m stronger than I look, both physically and emotionally. I grew in faith, wisdom, knowledge, and love. I grew closer to God than ever before, and that’s all you can really hope for in the end.

But I also learned about the faithfulness of God in times of adversity. My grandmother died the night before I graduated college, and so I learned how to celebrate even in the hard times. I was faced with the task of disposing of an engagement ring after my then-fiancee decided she didn’t want it anymore. I grew to know how to handle anxiety attacks when faced with a job that paid the bills but made my soul shrink inside me. I learned humility by going through extended periods of unemployment, moving back in with my parents, and having to ask for money no employer would give me in exchange for a day’s work. I discovered firsthand how differently grief can affect people, as the love for a grandfather which drove me to conduct his funeral also forced my uncle to demolish my grandparents’ house. There was sadness and pain and anger and despair. But every step of the way, God was there to see me through.

All of that to say: my twenties were great years, even if they were horrible at times, too.

But that’s life, isn’t it? Ups and downs, valleys and mountaintops. My thirties will be no different, I suspect. I don’t expect to feel ancient and withered by the end of them (or when I awake Thursday morning), nor do I expect a bed of roses for the next ten years. I expect reality. I expect work to be done. I anticipate joy and sorrow, hope and regret — sometimes at the same time. I’m looking for a challenge, and I’m looking to God to make me equal to the task.

So bring it on, thirty. Break out the black balloons and the “you’re so old” jokes. Because the way I see it, I’ve only finished around a third of my life, and the best is yet to come.

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