11 Reasons Your 30s Kick The Crap Out of Your 20s

I turned 30 nine years ago tomorrow.

When I was 17, I did what people told me. No, wait. That was Janet Jackson.

JJ.

When I was 29, I didn’t want to leave my 20s. I loved that decade. But with one year left in my 30s, I can tell you that this set of ten years has been far superior to my last set. Here’s why:

  1. You care more and more about less and less. You’re focused. This is because you know what you don’t like faster. Food, parties, people, drinks, Bruno Mars — you don’t waste your time pretending to fancy something. Man, this is so true with dating. You can quickly deselect and move on. And this is all because you know yourself more.
  2. You’ve grown into your body. Did I always love being short and bald? No. But it’s part of my identity now. And hey, out of the three, I’m certainly more Soul- and Mind-centered than Body-centered, anyway. Maybe you don’t have the tightness of your 20s, but if you’ve taken care of yourself, you still look good and at least your body isn’t preventing you from doing the things you want to do. Oh, and you need less sleep than you’ll need in any other decade.
  3. You’re more spiritually settled. We’re always searching, but by this point, you’ve had enough experience in meeting various people that you know what you think about things. You’ve either embraced your own belief system or you’re embracing of others’ — or both. Or neither and you’re on your way to being Archie Bunker but at least you know who you are.
  4. You’re over your quarter-life crisis. At 35, you’re no longer a young person. (Yes, even if you live in LA or NY.) It’s official: you check the 35–44 different box on surveys. But the quarter-life crisis is real. My theory on it is that, around 25 years old, you realize how many celebrities are younger than you. And the “OMG, what have I done with MY life?” feeling sets in. But by 30, you’re over it and you use a different stick to measure yourself — that of your parents, your mentors, your peers — the people you truly respect.
  5. You know your parents better. It’s fun going home with no consequences. You get a lot more rights with very few responsibilities. Sure, you want to help your parents. And sure, you want to respect them — more than ever, as you pass through the age when they had and raised you. But if you come home at 4 am, what are they really gonna DO? Kick you out? They’re overjoyed to see you. All kidding aside, I’ve gotten to know my Mom and Dad as actual people, not just authority figures. And coexisting with them and my two brothers, all of us adults, is a fun dynamic.
  6. You’re a better person. You’re working through your issues. At least hopefully. My 30s have been dedicated to pursuing my dream of comedy. I’m eternally grateful. Having said that, it’s been very stressful. And as I look back, I don’t think I realized how much. A friend once asked me whether I lost all of my hair in two years due to stress. I’d never thought about that — maybe. For most of my life, I’d fly off the handle from time-to-time but this problem exacerbated the first half of my 30s — and my friends diagnosed it as my not being happy with where I was in life. I denied this for years and not because I was being dismissive. Deep down, I just didn’t believe it — or didn’t want to. But it was true. After years of therapy, yoga, meditation, and open dialogue, I’ve calmed down a lot, embracing where I am yet still holding on to the fire that burns within (the source of my creativity) but channeling it in a more productive way. “Fitter, happier, more productive, comfortable, not drinking too much….”
  7. You can’t drink like you could in your 20s and maybe that’s a good thing. Almost everybody I know has a better relationship with alcohol. I don’t mean that their romantic relationships are better due to alcohol, although I guess that’s another way to read that sentence. I mean that we don’t quite need it as much as we did last decade. This has a lot to do with the fact that we know who our true friends are, so we don’t have to drink to make them more interesting. Well, maybe with some of them, let’s face it.
  8. You’re married, on your way to getting married, or on your way to finding happiness alone. Whitney Houston was right: “Learning to love yourself is the Greatest Love of All.” Anybody who’s spent seven seconds with me knows how much I love myself. It’s been a decades-long affair that’s likely to continue into old age. (And the great thing is that I’m always with me. How could somebody get so lucky?) In your 30s, you’re either fortunate to find somebody (maybe multiple times) or you’re learning how to make it on your own — and it’s not so bad after all.
  9. You have more money. As you look back… dude, we were so broke in our 20s. Student loans, car loans, etc. I wouldn’t say I’m exactly condo-paid-for-no-car-payment Biggie Smalls but the idea of actually paying off my house is within sight. It’s not gonna happen tomorrow but it’s not this soul-crushing amount anymore. It’s also a lot more fun going to dinner with a friend, when one of you just picks up the check because you both can.
  10. You’re in-charge. Remember in your 20s when you couldn’t really take a long lunch because your dickhead boss wanted you back for a 1:00 pm meeting and you couldn’t do anything to move it? Well, now if a friend comes to town on a weekday, we can take a two-hour lunch, because we set the meetings. We’re now those dickheads.
  11. You’ve actually become a man/woman. Not in the Bruce Jenner sort of way. I remember our Fairfield High School T-shirts for sports: Men’s Tennis. Men’s. Cute. People mature at different times but I’ve never met an 18-year-old man or woman. In fact, I’ve met very few 29-year-old men or women. But in your 30s, at least for my gender, males become men. It’s pretty awesome. You learn to be an actual adult: you don’t give unsolicited advice. You start conversations with the end in mind. You’re not as emotional and sensitive if for no other reason than the impracticality of it. Trust me — people still piss me off just as much as ever. I just don’t have the time to get into it with them.

To anyone younger, don’t dread your 30s. (And to anyone older, forgive me if my list above sounds naive. I’m sure 49-year-old Rajiv will join you in laughing at it.) At 29, I recall thinking, “When I was a teenager, I just always thought I’d be farther along by age 30.” Then it occurred to me: why would a teenager know more about being 30 than a 30-year-old? Just remember, that for most of us, one of the tragedies of life is: we always feel old but we never feel young.

So, to anyone younger or older, embrace your age. Age. It’s just the way you make me feel. No, wait. That’s Michael Jackson.

MJ.

Originally published at www.rajivsatyal.com on March 6, 2015.

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