The positive and negative perceptions of turning 30
In exactly two months and two days, I will reach a milestone in my life. While this milestone is simply numeric, and really has much less significance than so many other things that have or will happen in my life, turning 30 feels like a pretty big deal.
With this “event” fast-approaching, where I have been, where I am going, and where am I now in my life has been on the forefront of my mind. Over the next two months, I will occasionally share some of my thoughts and experiences as I approach the big THREE-O.
Sure, somebody, somewhere in the world turns 30 just about every single day, but as individuals, it will only happen to each of us once.
Responses to hitting this number are varied. My friends and acquaintances that are younger than me, especially my gay male friends, seem to look at 30 as sort of the end of life. They can’t fathom being such an age and sometimes speak about my turning 30 in sort of a friendly “I feel sorry for you” type of way. I’m not ready to join the AARP just yet.
People I know that are older than me, typically those about 40 years and up, tell me that I am “just a baby” and I enjoy hearing their varied recounts of being 30. They tell me that their 30’s were a great period in their life and that they would love to be “30 and flirty” again!
Then there are the people that are currently 30 or in their 30’s. These are the ones who are touting the line of thinking that “30 is the new 20.” I think this is just “our” way of holding onto this idea of “youth.”
The other day I was giving a tour of Hillcrest to some college freshmen in SDSU’s LGBT student group. Someone asked me how long I had been hanging out in Hillcrest, and although I was born in Hillcrest (UCSD Medical Center) it was not until I was about 17 or 18-years old that I really started frequenting the place. In a matter of seconds, I calculated the length of time in my head and stated that I had been hanging out in Hillcrest for about 12-years. There was a collective “woah!” in the group, as 12-years seems like a really long time for an 18-year old. I quickly explained that it is simply a testament to how fast time flies and it certainly does!
Once the 21st birthday marker passes (another “milestone” number in our lives that has been totally blown out of proportion by the legal drinking age) time seems to speed up into high gear. Other than being able to rent a car without the pesky “young driver surcharges” at age 25, there seem to be no more birthdays that people really look forward to. The anticipation of turning 21 is so great for so many people that it seems like an eternity before that day comes. I don’t remember ever saying phrases like, “my, oh my, how time flies!” until after I turned 21 (although I don’t recall ever saying any phrase that included “my, oh my!”).
I enjoy still being “young” but also being able to recollect on over a decade of being an “adult” and the experiences that have come with it is a great thing. I have created a bank of memories that I cherish, which will also only help me succeed in the “next chapter” of my life.
Other than the fact that I will have to completely change the way I move my lips when someone asks me how old I am, I’m not too freaked out about turning 30. It’s an excuse to throw a big party, claim that I’m entering a new chapter of my life, and write columns like this where I can reflect on my life.
Here’s to the final months my 20’s and to being on the edge of 30!
Ben Cartwright is SDGLN's Higher Education & Nonprofit Liaison and has been a campus and community activist in San Diego for over 10-years. His community involvement began as a student at SDSU and from there he launched into a number of other community activities. He has written for a number of local publications including Update, Hillquest, and GLT. Cartwright won the Lambda Archive's 2007 "Community Hero Award"; 2008 Nicky Award for "Outstanding Community Activist"; and a 2009 Nicky Award for "Outstanding Writer/Columnist".>