30 Things I Did Before Turning 30
- Got depressed because my dad went broke, lost our home, and went insane. He’d cry all the time, ask me ‘what’s wrong with me?’ and listen to music until he died.
- Got depressed because the first ten girls I asked out didn’t like me and said no. Two actually ran away before I finished my question. One said “yes” and then the next day told her brother to tell me “no”.
- Got depressed when my mom hit me because I woke up my dad after his surgery. He made me stand in the middle of the room and not move while she came over and hit me.
- Got depressed when the first business I started, CollegeCard (a debit card for college students), went out of business after less than a year.
- Got depressed when I was thrown out of graduate school. The letter cited “lack of maturity”. I had dinner the other day with the professor who wrote the letter. He said that it was Nobel-prize winning economist Herb Simon who said, “why are we letting that guy sit at a desk doing nothing when we could have a student there who is doing something” and I guess he was right.
- Got depressed when a girl I was in love with went home for a few weeks to her home country and her family found a letter I wrote to her. So they arranged a marriage for her within days and when she came back into town she denied we ever were going out. I called a friend of mine on the phone but was crying so much I couldn’t speak and he couldn’t figure out who I was so he hung up.
- Got depressed when four novels I wrote didn’t get published by the time I was 26.
- Got depressed when 50 short stories I wrote and sent out to magazines didn’t get published. All of them got rejected by form letters. Out of the thousands of letters and copies of writings I sent out in my 20s I did not get back one personalized rejection. I worked ten hours a day on writing and nothing came of it in my 20s, with no hope for the future.
- Got depressed when a TV show I pitched to HBO got rejected after we spent a year shooting a 45 minute pilot. The woman in charge of the decision said, “For material like this you need to either show someone shooting their mother while naked or show your neighbors f***ing.” She is now in charge of HBO Family programming.
- Got depressed when a 13 year old little girl crushed me in chess. Her name, in fact, is Irina Krush. I was a strong player and had studied for years. She analyzed the game for me and told me where I went wrong on the ninth move. I gave up playing tournament chess then.
- Got depressed when Amy chose another guy over me. I really fell hard for her. She married him and has a kid. I ran into her a few years ago. I still fell hard for her.
- Got depressed when I liked this girl, Jaimie, and she liked me, but I was always so nervous and intimidated by her that I couldn’t “perform”. One night she literally kicked me until I fell out of the bed and she told me to get out. So that was that.
- Got depressed when I moved into my first apartment by myself. I had only one foam mattress and it was hot and I had a fever and all my sweat soaked thoroughly into the mattress. When I woke up in feverish pain in the middle of the night on top of my sweat-soaked mattress I was covered by roaches.
- Got depressed when I entered a contest for writing a “3 Day Novel”. I finished the novel and I called my girlfriend at the time. I wanted to get together. She said, “I thought we were taking a break”. And that was that.
- Got depressed when I quit my job because I thought my business was going to take off and on the first day full time at my business our largest client cancelled us.
- Got depressed when I jumped off my bed, pretending to be Superman, and I broke my toe and had to wear a cast. Then I had to start a new school as a first grader and I was “that kid” limping with the cast.
- Got depressed when I was ten years old and I was caught stealing football cards at the local toy store. They turned my coat upside down and packs of cards came out. They said, “is that it?” and I said yes. They shook more. More packs came out. “IS THAT IT?” “Yes”. They shook more. More packs…And so on.
- Got depressed when ten minutes later they found my grandparents and asked them to come to the back of the store. The look my grandmother gave me.
- Got depressed when I was 16 and I had so much acne and so many cysts you could barely see my face. I’d hear girls talking about me and looking at me and then look away when I looked. One guy, Yung Shin, told me: just try and smile a lot.
- Got depressed because cysts are purple.
- Got depressed when I cut school because I was so embarrassed of how I looked. I went into NYC and got mugged and my backpack was stolen from me and a bunch of books I wanted to read that day. Later: my mom asking me, “where is your backpack?” and I had no answer.
- Got depressed when I was eight and my dad convinced me to donate all my games to charity and he would give me his tax write-off. I didn’t even know what a tax write-off was but I thought it was a lot of money. I gave him about 20 games (Monopoly, Chutes & Ladders, Trouble, etc). About six months later he gave me a dollar.
- Got depressed the first semester of graduate school when I failed ALL of my courses. Up until then I thought I was smart. But at that moment I knew for the rest of my life I would have to fake it.
- Got depressed when we moved to a new town when I was five. My new friends thought it would be fun to hold my hand on top of a burning barbecue for as long as possible. We moved a month or so after that.
- Got depressed when I was unhappy in a relationship but we were living together and both of us too poor to move out. So I stayed at work and played online chess all of the time. At least 20 hours a day. And she would be upset at me and bang on my office door but I would lock it and pretend I wasn’t there.
- Got depressed when she cheated on me. But I deserved it.
- Got depressed when my college girlfriend and I took Kung-Fu class Freshman year of college and she beat the shit out of me.
- Got depressed when I started a brand new job in NYC and my dad bought me a suit and I was walking to work from the bus station when the woman standing two feet to my right was run over and killed by a taxicab that came up onto the sidewalk. I was depressed but it was worse for her.
- Got depressed on my very first memory. I was in some sort of big crib even though I was too old for cribs. I was screaming. It was early in the morning. Eventually my grandmother lifted me out of the crib so I could play. I don’t think I have another memory until at least a year after that.
- Was very happy the first time I was kissed. It felt like liquid electricity massaging all of the blood in my body.
And this was as bad as it got. Not so bad.
Sometimes I feel like I’m the luckiest person alive.
Related Reading: 20 Habits of Eventual Millionaires
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James Altucher is the author of the bestselling book Choose Yourself, editor at The Altucher Report and host of the popular podcast, The James Altucher Show, which takes you beyond business and entrepreneurship by exploring what it means to be human and achieve well-being in a world that is increasingly complicated.