Don’t Let Your Fire Die

Thoughts on being a 28 year old man

Lately I’ve noticed a trend in friends my age wanting to do more with their lives.

Our conversations that were once plans for shared experiences —

“Dude, we should totally get the guys together and check out this brewery”

— have turned into admissions of personal aspiration —

“Dude, wouldn’t it be great to start our own brewery?”

  • Start a company.
  • Change jobs.
  • Learn to rock climb.
  • Get really into CrossFit.
  • Move to another city.
  • Get married / start a family.
  • Get really into a hobby or collection that no one really understands but obliges to listen to and nod their head during conversation.

All things I’m sure you — or another 28 year old man you know — have done or said recently.

Upon turning 28, something deep inside of us — something inherited from our distant neanderthal brothers — sparks and tells us to create, to build, to provide value and purpose.

We’re no longer the 24 or 25 year old, bright-eyed young men who were content slugging through the work week in order to hang out with as many friends as possible on the weekend.

We’re now men who can see 30 on the horizon and feel the need to prove ourselves to the world lest the world writes us off. We want to put our name on something great.

Personally, I love this feeling. The tension of possibly being on the edge of something HUGE. It’s exhilarating.

It’s like every day is Usain Bolt approaching the starting line.

That said, it can be stressful. The weight of feeling like you haven’t contributed yet — or are still attempting to live up to your potential — can cause a lot of people to buckle at the knees.

Which is why I assume some 28 year old men take the easy way out and turn to tight t-shirts, misogynistic tendencies on dating apps, and drugs and alcohol to numb the tension, or tackle it head on (and subsequently get thrown out of bars).

But worse than the ill placed aggression is the self-neutering tendency to feel the spark and to ignore it.

It’s so easy to fall into a 9–5, work out twice a week, watch Netflix every night before bed routine, and feel like you’re doing it right.

You’re not bothering anyone — you’re getting by — so who cares?

But really you’re doing a disservice to yourself and your community/friends/family.

By letting your fire die — not exploring that hobby, not learning a new language, ignoring and not cultivating your personal relationships — you’re robbing someone else of something that could be truly great.

You’re trading the potential of founding the next industry defining start up…for studying fantasy football stats?

You could start a really awesome family, with the coolest wife and kids…but you’d rather try to beat Call of Duty on Veteran?

The Next Great American Novel is at your fingertips…but you’d rather catch up on Game of Thrones?

The opportunity cost is too high.

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” — Howard Thurman